PHOENIX — A rookie starting pitcher going six innings, allowing only two runs and striking out nine — all while his team has home field advantage — would seem like a recipe for a win.
But Alex Young’s strong outing wasn’t enough as the Arizona Diamondbacks mustered only one hit — an infield single from Young — and fell 3-0 to the Nationals to start a home series on Friday.
“There’s certain games at certain times that leave you scratching your head,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “This was definitely one of them. We get one hit. Our pitcher scratches out that base hit for us. I’m going to look at some of the at bats, I haven’t yet. I’m probably working through a little bit of our own frustration.”
Young took a shutout into the sixth inning but lost it when a leadoff double by Adam Eaton preceded two straight outs, an intentional walk to Brian Dozier and then a two-run double by Matt Adams.
“I think it was just a cutter I just left over the plate,” Young said. “I didn’t get through it all the way and just left it over there.
“I thought [my outing] was good until the sixth inning. “Just a couple of bad breaks that happened and pitches that I wish I could get back.”
That one mistake to Adams made all the difference in Young’s shutout bid, but the D-backs’ offense failed to produce either way.
In fairness to the offense, five plate appearances through the first three innings were chewed up by walks — taking the bat out of the batters’ hands — as Nationals starter Joe Ross issued a slew of free passes, including back-to-back walks on two separate occasions.
Ross, who entered the game with a 9.85 ERA in 19 appearances this year (one start) went 5.1 innings, allowing now runs and one hit with five walks and three strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches, and Young threw 89.
The rookie Young now has an impressive 2.60 ERA through seven appearances (six starts) this year.
After Young, Lovullo called upon Stefan Crichton to pitch. He went two full innings, and in his second inning of worked allowed a high fly ball that cleared the fence in the right field corner for a home run by Juan Soto. That made it 3-0 Nationals. Greg Holland, who was recently moved out of the closer role, pitched the ninth while trailing. He had a 1-2-3 inning.
“I thought Alex Young threw the ball exceptionally well, just made the one mistake to Adams,” Lovullo said. “And aside from that, the pitching for me was doing their job. It was just a situation where, offensively, we couldn’t get anything going.”
The D-backs are now 23-27 at home.
“I can’t figure out the home field situation,” Lovullo said. “I think two years ago, we had a tremendous home field record. … I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know. I know we’re a good baseball team and we’ve got to protect our home turf. This is our house. And we’re not doing that. That’s showing up a lot more than I’m comfortable with.”
The D-backs now trail the Nationals by 4.5 games in the National League Wild Card standings as Washington holds the second playoff spot. To get back into a playoff spot, Arizona would have to pass the Giants, Brewers, Phillies and Nats.
Arizona has two more games in this series to gain ground on Washington. On Saturday, Robbie Ray will face Stephan Strasburg at 5:10 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.