Nerves got to Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Anthony Banda in the first inning, but that was all he allowed in a 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On his 24th birthday and only his third Major League start, Banda gave up three runs in the first inning and threw 36 pitches.
But, he pulled himself together and returned to the mound to pitch three scoreless innings and only allowing a single from Corey Seager.
The Diamondbacks scored two runs and had two runners on with Banda on-deck. Manager Torey Lovullo made an executive decision.
He substituted Brandon Drury for Banda, to prevent the rookie from batting in a high leverage situation.
Drury struck out on three swinging pitches on the edges, or arguably, on the outside of the strikezone. The Diamondbacks would not tie the game, or take the lead, and Banda would not return to the mound for the fifth inning.
Jake Barrett replaced Banda. He gave up a solo homerun to Chris Taylor on the first pitch. Lovullo’s decision to remove Banda would be the beginning of a long game.
Barrett gave up two more runs before the end of the fifth inning. The Dodgers extended their lead, 6-2.
Jorge De La Rosa relieved Barrett for the sixth inning. He gave up a single, threw a wild pitch, walked a batter and then finally got an out. But, Justin Turner doubled to score two runs. The Dodgers held an 8-2 lead and the outlook for the Diamondbacks was even more bleak.
The Diamondbacks had a little bit of rally in them.
Chris Iannetta gave them a glimmer of hope in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run home run to the Dodgers lead to four runs.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, J.D. Martinez walked and Daniel Descalso singled. Martinez was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, leaving Descalso and Iannetta in scoring position.
Ketel Marte drove both runners in with a line drive to center field. But, the rally ended there.
Lovullo’s decision combined with umpire Rob Drake’s inconsistent strikezone put the nail in the Diamondbacks coffin. Among complaints of bad calls all season long and calls for technology to save the strikezone, Drake had one of the worst.
With the series loss, the Diamondbacks are one game behind the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card race. But, if this is a preview of a potential NLDS matchup, October couldn’t get here any sooner.