It's worth wondering if the Arizona Diamondbacks are glad to be getting out of town Wednesday afternoon after they were handcuffed by Cole Hamels and Philadelphia Phillies, 7-2. The Diamondbacks ended a 10-game homestand with a 3-7 record and lost all three series -- a three-game set to Pittsburgh, a four-game set with Atlanta and the most recent, a three-game series with the Phillies.
With Wednesday's loss, the Diamondbacks fell to 9-10 on the season. Not the record the defending NL West champions had planned on having, but it's early. Still, the D-backs are missing a few key players due to injury, and the starting pitching hasn't been as quality as it was last year.
"It hasn't been easy for us, and we go on the road, big road trip. Gotta regroup, have a nice day off tomorrow and then get right back after it on Friday in a new ballpark (Miami)," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
Hamels allowed just one hit through six innings, then he finally faltered in the seventh. Three straight hits from Aaron Hill, Justin Upton and Jason Kubel produced the first Arizona run. Then came a walk and error and the D-backs were in business with the bases loaded and one out.
A.J. Pollock grounded sharply to second base, and the Phillies were able to turn the double play to get Hamels out of the inning.
I wondered if I'd seen it all in baseball after the D-backs' WIllie Bloomquist was picked off of second base in the first inning. Give Bloomquist a little credit, he forced a lot of throws back and forth in what turned into a game of "Pickle" or whatever you called it growing up.
The play was scored 1-5-1-4-6-3, Bloomquist tagged out by Phillies first baseman Laynce Nix.
"I have no problem with guys being aggressive," Gibson said. "It's great when it works and it's not when it doesn't... gotta give Hamels a little bit of credit. They got us on that one."
"We have had some obstacles to overcome so far," Bloomquist said. "If you have to lose some guys, earlier in the season is better than late... but we're a team that's resilient. We're not going to fold up shop. This was a tough homestand obviously, but we'll keep grinding. I'm confident we'll figure it out. We have guys in here that care too much not to continue battling."
There were a couple of other strange plays. On a bloop double by Nix in the top of the first, Hunter Pence, who'd drove in the first run of the game, hesitated just a bit coming toward third base. He headed for home and was thrown out on a decent throw by Kubel in left field and a great catch and tag by Henry Blanco to end the inning.
Later, on a second-inning passed ball that Blanco took his time going after, Philly's Carlos Ruiz tried to score from first base. Blanco must have pulled the old veteran rope-a-dope trick, because he waited until third baseman Cody Ransom could hustle in from third to cover the plate before throwing the ball in time for Ransom to tag out Ruiz.
Ruiz had the last laugh, though. He was 3-for-4, and teammate Placido Polanco was 3-for-3 with two walks. The Phillies had 13 hits against starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and relievers Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and Joe Martinez.
"They did a good of fighting stuff off. When I got ahead they kept battling," Cahill said.
Cahill (1-2) took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Hamels ended up lasting eight innings and improved to 3-1. He also helped his own cause with a two-run single in the sixth, when the Phillies scored five runs.