There was a considerable difference in the quality but not the result.
Diamondbacks’ right-hander Brandon McCarthy, recovering from right shoulder inflammation, turned in a solid performance against the New York Mets Saturday, but had little to show. That’s because Mets’ righty Zack Wheeler was a bit better and bested McCarthy, 4-1 before 42,450.
The loss snapped an Arizona three game winning streak, and coupled with a Dodgers win Saturday over the Rays, dropped the D-backs six and one-half games behind Los Angeles in National League West.
For his effort, McCarthy deserved a better fate.
In lasting seven innings, the 6-7 native of Glendale, Calif. allowed six hits, two runs, threw 97 pitches, and left trailing 2-1.
McCarthy came off the disabled list last Sunday and went only four and one-third innings in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox. In that one, he allowed five hits and two runs but indicated his endurance and effectiveness are rising.
“After a few innings in Boston, I hit a wall, but felt much better (Saturday),” he said. “It was about the sixth inning (Saturday) that I started to tire but was able to push through. Yeah, I feel my endurance is improving and I’m throwing to location. (Against the Mets), I thought I did a good job of commanding the ball.”
McCarthy credited catcher Wil Nieves with calling a strong game and pinpointing location.
“I followed Wil’s direction, and thought he had a good plan,” McCarthy added. “He has controls a game very well and worked well together.”
Trailing 2-0, the Diamondbacks attempted to pick up McCarthy.
First, Aaron Hill homered in the first row of the left field bleachers leading off the seventh. Eventually, the D-backs loaded the bases with two out, but Adam Eaton grounded into a force play to end the inning.
If the Diamondbacks attempted to dig themselves back, reliever David Hernandez did not help. As he has done several times this season, Hernandez imploded and in the eighth inning, he allowed two runs. That put the D-backs into a three run hole and they could not recover.
Overall, the Diamondbacks banged out 11 hits and left 15 runners on base. They left the bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings and that failure produced a strong response from manager Kirk Gibson.
“We had our opportunities, and didn’t make the most of them,” he said. “We knew Wheeler has a good arm and heard about him. But, we did have our chances.”
HERNANDEZ SENT DOWN
After David Hernandez was again ineffective in the eighth inning, the Diamondbacks optioned the right-hander to Triple A Reno.
While he quietly packed a Diamondbacks bag with personal gear, players passed and offered their thoughts. Hernandez also took time for a brief session with the media.
“It’s been a pretty rough year and you have to move forward,” he said. “I’m going down to work on some things and it’s not a high-pressure environment. I’ve been sent down before and came back.”
The move was announced by manager Kirk Gibson after Saturday’s loss to the Mets. Gibson said Hernandez’s spot on the roster will be filled in time for Sunday’s afternoon game with the Mets in Chase Field.
In the eighth inning against New York Saturday, Hernandez threw 27 pitches in the frame, gave up two hits, walked two and two scored. He opened the inning by walking Eric Young, Jr. and Mets eventually loaded the bases. Hernandez then gave up a two-run single to Wilmer Flores, batting .133 coming into the game, and filling in for the injured David Wright at third base
In 48 appearances this season for Arizona, Hernandez was 4-6, a 5.59 ERA and allowed 30 earned runs in 44 innings.
CLOSE TO A SELL OUT
The crowd of 42,450 Saturday was the Diamondbacks third largest of the season.
The D-backs sold out on opening night with a crowd of 48,033 April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. They also drew 45,505 for a game against the Rockies on July 5.
No question, the giveaway of a Paul Goldschmidt bobble-head swelled the gates. Despite the 42,00 plus, the amount of fans in the stands does not equal an increased energy level in the ball park.
“It’s always nice to play before big crowds, but the crowd I prefer is a packed house for the World Series,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Saturday’s game with the Mets. “Sometimes, big crowds are not as vocal but a small crowd can really get into a game and raise the energy level.”