Bullpen gives up lead in ninth, drops fifth straight

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Diamondbacks bullpen

On Monday, Torey Lovullo raised the same point twice, once before the game, then again after yet another defeat: The Diamondbacks may be going through a rough patch, but that’s normal even for the best teams.

The good teams have these days every year inside of a baseball season, Lovullo said.

Although the Diamondbacks lost 10-6 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, they still qualify as a good team for now. But pretty soon they won’t, if they don’t break out of their downward spiral.

As a result of falling to the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks have lost five consecutive games. Since the All-Star break, they have lost eight of ten games.

As a result of all this losing, they owned the second-best record in the National League. At the time, they led the NL West by 2 1/2 games and had a six-game edge on playoffs. As a result, they are four games out of the division and tied with four other clubs for the wild card.

With a week left until the Aug. 1 deadline, their play may also force them to reassess — or at least consider readjusting — their approach to trade deadlines. They used to be clear buyers in need of a starting pitcher and a bullpen arm, but have instead acted as if they needed much more.

Lovullo sounded like he was trying to remind his team that a lot can change in very little time in baseball.

We’re all frustrated, he said. “We know what’s going on. We fight every day. The effort is there. We just haven’t won baseball games like we want to… Tomorrow is our chance. That’s what I’m going to look at.”

While Andrew Chafin got to two strikes on six of the seven batters he faced during the ninth inning, he coughed up five runs, giving up a one-run lead. After giving Paul Goldschmidt a two-strike, game-tying single, he walked Lars Nootbaar to put the Cardinals ahead, 7-6.

“I wasn’t executing pitches well,” Chafin admitted. “I guess you can sum it up in a nutshell as poor execution.”

Moreover, Chafin noted, “It’s the worst time to implode like that. We had the team on the ropes, and I failed to shut it down.”

Tyler O’Neill made it 10-6 with a double off Kevin Ginkel after Chafin left the game.

In five innings against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who had allowed 20 runs in his previous three starts and hadn’t pitched for nearly three weeks, the Diamondbacks scored just two runs.

When Chafin took over in the ninth, the Diamondbacks led by just one run thanks to Evan Longoria’s pinch-hit, two-run double in the seventh.

When the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, Lovullo left Chafin on to face Goldschmidt-Nolan Arenado-Nootbaar.

There’s always the chance to second-guess and think through things a little differently, and I’ll do that,” he said.

As the Diamondbacks left Toronto after being swept by the Blue Jays last week, they talked about their first prolonged losing skid of the year — and what they needed to do to fix it. Despite still being in the same boat, Longoria admitted to noticing a “pretty somber” atmosphere in the clubhouse.

“The challenge is, when things get bad like this, not to blame others, not to look at your teammates and start to single guys out or single groups out and say, ‘Well, I’m doing my job, so-and-so or these people aren’t doing their job,’” Longoria said. “That’s kind of the death spiral of a team. That’s the challenge right now is to not do that. Continue to put faith in and believe in the guys that are going to the plate in front and behind you and the guys that are going out on the mound. That’s really all you can do.”

He said when the club played well earlier in the season, the team fed off positive energy from one player to another, from one game to the next. He said the same thing seems to be happening lately, but in the opposite direction.

In the same way, Longoria said that when a guy comes out of the bullpen or if you’re on the plate and you haven’t hit in 15 at-bats, you can feel the weight of the team. Trying to change that energy, trying to feed positivity, is an everyday battle, but something that we have to be aware of and really focus on in order to try to turn us around.

Piecoro, Nick

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Merrill Kelly set for Tuesday return from injured list for Diamondbacks

Merrill Kelly, one of the Diamondbacks’ better starters, is expected to be reinstated from the injured list to start on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In simulated games against minor league hitters, Kelly has made multiple rehab outings since June 24.

“He’s here and feeling great,” said manager Torey Lovullo. “He threw 85 pitches in his last outing. I saw him for a brief moment today and he was really excited to be here.”

Prior to his injury, Kelly had a 3.22 ERA through 16 starts. He and right-hander Zac Gallen provided a formidable 1-2 punch for the Diamondbacks.

We have 1A and 1B with Zac and Merrill, Lovullo said. “They pump out the innings, make pitches, and keep us in games.” I love the other guys, the youngsters that have been coming out and doing their job and helping us win baseball games, but Merrill and Zac are different every day. Getting him back will be a big push.”

Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno has ‘no timeline’ for return from shoulder injury

Torey Lovullo said catcher Gabriel Moreno landed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday due to left shoulder inflammation, which he had been dealing with for more than a week before the All-Star break.

It explains why Moreno had not been playing more frequently in recent weeks, ceding more starts to veteran Carson Kelly than anticipated.

I know you guys have consistently asked me why he isn’t playing,” Lovullo explained. It isn’t my intention to mislead you guys, but I just didn’t want to give us or the opposition a competitive advantage or disadvantage in any way. He was banged up. I was resting him.

Lovullo said there is no timeline for Moreno’s return, but it does sound like he won’t be back after the minimum of 10 days.

Diamondbacks’ Drey Jameson weighing options on elbow injury

Drey Jameson is “mulling” surgery or a more conservative approach to the elbow injury that sent him to the injured list earlier this month, manager Torey Lovullo said.

According to Lovullo, Jameson has an ulnar collateral ligament sprain. Presumably, the three doctors whose opinions Jameson sought did not agree on how to proceed.

Jameson will still miss the rest of 2024 regardless of whether he has surgery now or in the fall, according to Lovullo. As such, one option could be for Jameson to try the rest-and-rehab route before ramping up in the fall, and then making a decision on surgery at that point based on how he feels.

According to Lovullo, former Diamondbacks right-hander Luke Weaver avoided elbow surgery in a similar situation and still throws a lively fastball.

“He has taken the conservative route and is doing fine and healthy and looks great,” said Lovullo, whose team played Weaver on Sunday.

Piecoro, Nick

What to know about the St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are one of the more disappointing teams in the majors, a club expected to contend for the National League Central title but instead is careening toward the trade deadline as a seller. They have had a couple of hot streaks that seemed to pull them back within the realm of contention but both times fell off again. The first time was in May, then it happened again recently when they won nine of 11 before losing three in a row to the Cubs at Wrigley Field over the weekend, all but sealing their fate as sellers. The Cardinals are sixth in the league with 4.75 runs per game and are fifth-worth with a 4.53 ERA. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, the former Diamondbacks slugger, is having another strong year. He entered Sunday hitting .283/.371/.466 with 16 homers. Those numbers are well off his pace from last year but still place him squarely above league average, impressive considering he is 35 years old. 3B Nolan Arenado has turned his season around by hitting .324 with 11 homers in his past 37 games. 2B Nolan Gorman, a product of Sandra Day O’Connor High in north Phoenix, has 20 homers and 62 RBIs.

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