The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the biggest surprise teams of the season and are coming off a stellar road trip. But they also are mired in a down moment as they open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night in Phoenix.
It marks just the third time Boston will play in Phoenix. The Red Sox took two of three in 2007 and Arizona won two of three in 2019. Boston has won 13 of the 21 overall meetings.
The Diamondbacks appeared en route to their 30th win in just 50 games on Wednesday afternoon before blowing a 5-0 lead and losing to the host Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 in 10 innings.
Arizona finished 6-3 on a road trip that also included games against the Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates. But seeing that 5-0 lead after 5 1/2 innings get away against the Phillies left some very unhappy Diamondbacks.
"It's great to win this series, but the baseball games you're supposed to win, you should win those baseball games," said Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen, the pitcher given that 5-0 lead.
"I think that's the sentiment for me, just as an organization really if we want to go where we want to go, we have to win the games we're supposed to win. Teams that have been successful the last few years, they just found a way to put games away and found a way to win baseball games.
Arizona won its previous four games, making the loss even tougher to accept.
"This game will rip your heart out," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and Emmanuel Rivera had three RBIs for the Diamondbacks. Also, Ketel Marte extended his career-best streak of reaching base to 24 by going 2-for-5.
Boston has dropped four straight games, including losing three straight in Anaheim to the Los Angles Angels.
The Red Sox have been outscored 20-4 and have been blanked twice during the four-game skid that began after they won the first two contests of a nine-game road trip.
Boston lost 7-3 to the Angels on Wednesday but it had eight hits, including a homer by Connor Wong. The Red Sox had just one run and six hits over the first two games of the series.
"I think (Wednesday) was a lot better (offensively) than the last two nights," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We took our walks and hit some balls hard. Obviously, at the end of the day it's how many runs you score, but I thought the approach was a lot better."
Boston star Rafael Devers hit two homers during a 6-1 victory over the San Diego Padres last Friday to start the road trip, but he has gone just 2-for-19 in the ensuing five games.
Boston left-hander Chris Sale (4-2, 5.01 ERA) will take the ball Friday for his 10th start of the season. Sale has struck out 62 in 50 1/3 innings but also has served up eight homers.
The 34-year-old pitched superbly in his last two outings. He gave up one and three in eight innings in a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 13 and then allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings in a victory over the Padres on Saturday.
In his last four outings, Sale has 32 strikeouts against three walks in 27 1/3 innings.
Longoria is just 6-for-38 with 15 strikeouts in his career against Sale. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is 3-for-18 with one homer.
Right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (0-1, 7.65) will make his fifth career start for Arizona. He has served up seven homers in 20 innings.
Pfaadt, 24, received a no-decision in his last outing when he gave up three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Pirates.
--Field Level Media