PHOENIX — Ketel Marte and Christian Walker remain among the few reliable Arizona Diamondbacks hitters, but it would be a luxury if manager Torey Lovullo could only worry about the offense right now.
From start to close of an 11-2 loss Saturday to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field, the D-backs arms struggled.
Starter Luke Weaver rolled through the first three innings as Arizona held a 1-0 lead, but he fell off from there, allowing six earned runs split between the fourth and fifth innings.
D-backs reliever Yoan Lopez allowed two more runs immediately after Weaver exited, and Taylor Clarke went two scoreless frames before a three-run homer ruined his night as well. The Dodgers hit four home runs off that trio.
Arizona has not been “eliminating the extra base runner,” Lovullo said, which has led to the pitching staff allowing backbreaking innings throughout the 3-6 start to the season.
As for Weaver, it was the second of two starts where his promising stuff unraveled quickly.
“It’s pure speculation — I haven’t had a chance to really talk to him — I think he’s maybe missing in some situations to create some traffic and then missing in the middle of the zone,” Lovullo said.
Weaver said his pitches feel good, save for a cutter that he admitted started missing off the plate on Saturday.
“It kind of starts to build and spiral. We always say try to eliminate the big hit, the big inning. Can’t seem to avoid that right now,” Weaver said. “The positive thing is it’s not like from the get-go it’s sloppy and it doesn’t look good. So I think a little bit of that frustration is (you) kind of wonder where it goes.”
“At the end of the day, I’m going to own it.”
Like the starting pitcher, the offense didn’t get out to a bad start either. With two outs in the first inning, D-backs third baseman Eduardo Escobar fouled off two pitches from Dodgers lefty Julio Urias and then singled up the middle with two runners aboard, scoring Ildemaro Vargas from second — a promising start that wound up as a tease.
Weaver, who was throwing 94-95 in his first start, found himself tossing 96 mph and even one 97-mph ball in the heart of his strong first three innings. But after needing 55 pitches to get through three scoreless frames in which he’d struck out five, the starter began laboring in the fourth.
Dodgers third baseman Edwin Rios hit a 434-foot home run off Weaver after the pitcher had walked Joc Peterson, and Matt Beaty smacked a solo shot off the D-backs righty two batters later to put Los Angeles ahead, 3-1. Weaver got out of the fourth inning after 21 pitches, but the fifth went no better.
Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts walked on five pitches, Corey Seager singled on his first pitch and Justin Turner smoked a two-RBI triple to the center field wall without an out recorded, making it 5-2 Los Angeles.
The Arizona bullpen couldn’t clean it up.
Yoan Lopez allowed an RBI single to Peterson and then a home run to former D-back A.J. Pollock on his first two pitches, putting the Dodgers ahead by six runs.
The D-backs’ next reliever up, Taylor Clarke, also got clipped, allowing Los Angeles to go ahead 11-2 via a three-run homer in the eighth. After Clarke had tossed clean sixth and seventh innings, he got two outs before a walk and a single set up Chris Taylor’s three-run shot over the right field fence to put the Dodgers in double-digits.
Arizona managed just five hits. A number of its everyday starters including Escobar, David Peralta and Nick Ahmed are batting .200 or worse.
“I know it’s a lot of frustration for everybody,” Escobar said. “It’s hard, man. Everybody, my teammates come in here and fight. Everybody here got a good energy, fight, working hard. I still believe in my guys.
“For me, I’m feeling really, really good now. I think everything will be back soon.”
— Ketel Marte was shut down in the bottom of the eighth frame, and Andy Young made his MLB debut at second base with Arizona trailing by nine runs in the ninth inning.
— Daulton Varsho, a catch/outfielder prospect, saw his first playing time in the ninth inning at center field, relieving Starling Marte.