Arizona Diamondbacks: Shaking start dooms Walker
By Mark Brown
Starter Taijuan Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks could not recover from a disastrous first inning.
The wheels began to fall for starter Taijuan Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks with the first hitter of the game. That’s when Cincinnati lead-off hitter Billy Hamilton drew a nine-pitch walk, and Walker immediately allowed a pair of extra base hits. First, National League starting All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart tripled and Joey Votto followed with a two-run blast into the field bleachers.
By the time Walker caught his breath, he threw 27 pitches in the opening frame, down by three runs and the set the course for a disastrous evening.
Lifted after five innings, Walker allowed five hits, including four for extra bases, five runs and tossed 95 pitches. The result was a disappointing 7-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds before 29,806 in Chase Field. Coupled with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ extra-inning win over the Kansas City Royals, the Diamondbacks fell 6.5 games behind L. A. in the NL West.
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With no runs in this one, the Diamondbacks were shut-out for the second time in their last four games. The time the Reds shut down an opponent was June 30 against the Chicago Cubs. The loss was the Diamondbacks’ fourth defeat in their last five games. This is the second time this season for such a streak. From May 3 to May 9, they dropped five of six games.
The early departure after five was Walker’s earliest since he lifted also after five against the Tigers in Detroit on June 14. The short experience was uncharacteristic of Walker, who pitched at least five innings in eight of his 12 starts. That was sandwiched around time on the disabled list from May 20 to June 14 with a blister on his pitching hand.
During the nine-pitch sequence with Hamilton, Walker told Venom Strikes the fleet centerfielder should have been down on strikes. Plate umpire and crew chief Paul Emmel disagreed and waived Hamilton to first. From that point, the three-run first inning disaster followed.
"“I thought I struck him out, but didn’t get the call,” he said. “I need to shake that off and not let it bother you. From there, things got away from me. If I get the first batter there, things are different.”"
Not much Arizona offense in this one. The only threat came in the seventh. After singles from Jake Lamb and Ketel Marte, pinch-hitter A. J. Pollock, with two outs, fouled out to first to end the threat. For the game, the Diamondbacks managed only three hits and left seven on base.
The result belonged the Reds’ starter Luis Castillo, who gained his first major league win with 6.2 innings of shutout baseball. Manager Torey Lovullo, though frustrated with the loss, was quick to give due to the Cincinnati rookie right-hander.
"“We ran into a pretty pitcher,” he said. “His fast ball velocity was up near (upper 90s), and his breaking pitch was good. You have to give him credit.”"
The Diamondbacks go for the series victory in Sunday’s finale. That’s when Patrick Corbin (6-8, 4.81 ERA) gets the start against righty Homer Bailey (1-2, 12.66). Bailey, just off the 60-day disabled list, had arthroscopic surgery to remove small bone spurs from his right elbow just before the start of spring training. This will be Bailey’s fourth start of the season.
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Then, the All-Star break. The Diamondbacks open the second half of their season with a six-game road trip. That includes three in Atlanta and three in Cincinnati, and return to Chase Field top open the second half of their home slate on Friday July 21 against National League East Division-leading Washington Nationals.