Arizona Diamondbacks: Offense hits three home runs, Walker inefficient

Chris Herrmann is hitting .174. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Herrmann is hitting .174. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Arizona Diamondbacks begin the month of May with a road win over the Washington Nationals.

Catcher Chris Herrmann hit a two-run home run, the bullpen held the Washington Nationals hot offense in check over the final 4.1 innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks claimed the series opener, 5-3 at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

Both starting pitchers were the definition of inefficient. Diamondbacks’ right-hander Taijuan Walker lasted 4.2 innings and threw 117 pitches (61 S). Nationals’ right-hander Tanner Roark needed a career-high 125 pitches (77 S) to finish six innings. Walker issued six base on balls and 12 Arizona hitters reached a full count against Roark.

But, the Diamondbacks’ offense got timely hits from Herrmann and Owings and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa stranded runners at first and second in the eighth. The Diamondbacks improved to 17-11 overall and 5-6 away from Chase Field.

Field manager Torey Lovullo, speaking to Fox Sports Arizona, gave credit to the pitching staff.

"It wasn’t a perfect outing for Taijuan, we extended him a little bit, he handed it off to the bullpen and your right, you hold this team to three runs your doing things right on the mound and they deserve all the credit."

Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, who came into the game for Yasmany Tomas in left field as part of a double switch, led off the top of the ninth with a home run to center.

The insurance run gave Diamondbacks’ closer Fernando Rodney a three-run cushion. Rodney came into Tuesday night’s contest having blown two straight save opportunities. The 40-year-old faced a stern test against the heart of the Nationals’ order.

Rodney, who became a United States citizen Tuesday, struck out Jayson Werth on a 3-2 changeup, got Bryce Harper to fly out to center and closed the door

For Washington, Roark needed 33 pitches to get through the top of the first.  For the game, the 125 pitches by Roark were the second most by an Arizona opposing pitcher in 6.0 innings or fewer. Only  the Giants’ Livan Hernandez (127 pitches in 6.0 IP) threw more on July 26, 2001 at Chase Field.

The first four Diamondbacks (five counting Tomas who led off the second) worked the count full. A.J. Pollock led off the game with a single to center. Pollock stole second but Owings struck out looking. Paul Goldschmidt picked up Owings. The first baseman copied Pollock with a RBI single to center. The hit scored the Arizona center fielder and made it 1-0. A strike-em-out-throw’-em-out double play ended the threat.

Walker needed 28 pitches to get through the first, but the Nationals could only get the equalizer. Washington took a 3-1 lead in the third. Harper walked, Zimmerman singled with one out and Murphy drove both runs in with a first-pitch single on a high fastball.

Still, the Diamondbacks scored three runs in the fourth to grab a 4-3 lead. Jake Lamb led off the inning with a solo shot and Chris Herrmann crushed an opposite field two-run shot after Brandon Drury hit a single.

Owings gave the Diamondbacks a 5-3 lead with a two-out RBI single after the Nationals could not turn a double play.

T.J. McFarland relieved Walker and threw one pitch to get the final out in the fifth. McFarland pitched a 1-2-3 sixth and J.J. Hoover threw a scoreless seventh before De La Rosa and Rodney shut the door.

Diamondbacks pitchers struck out 11 Nationals for the eighth straight game which gave the team a National League record and tied a major league record. The 2014 Cleveland Indians accomplished the same feat.

The Nationals came into tonight’s game leading the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and doubles. The Diamondbacks outslugged Dusty Baker‘s team.

Game Essentials

WP: McFarland (1-0)

LP: Roark (3-1)

SV: Rodney (7)

HR: Lamb (6), Herrmann (2) and Hazelbaker (1)

T: 3:48

Att: 22, 826

Diamondbacks record: 17-11

Nationals record: 17-9

One Note

Before the game, Lovullo announced Braden Shipley will start Thursday series finale, in place of Shelby Miller. The right-hander has pitched ok for Triple-A Reno. In 13 major league appearances, Shipley owned a 4-5 record and a 5.27 ERA in 70 innings.

Manager Torey Lovullo spoke with about the decision.

"“Probably everything you could imagine [went into the decision],” Lovullo said. “We had a lot of great baseball conversations with everybody involved at the proper level that was giving really good advice about what was happening at Triple-A. It just seemed like it was the right guy in the right situation on that day and start.”"

"Arizona Diamondbacks: Chat about the Nationals with District on Deck"

The Nationals went 2-for-12 with RISP and stranded 10 Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks will try and win the series tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. MST. Look for LHP Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.56 ERA) to oppose fellow southpaw Gio Gonzalez (3-0, 1.62 ERA).

To read the series preview click here.

For the Nationals perspective on the series click here.