The Diamondbacks were beaten in noncompetitive fashion by one of the worst teams in the majors on Tuesday night. Because it is baseball, this is not too shocking; this sort of thing happens – often – in a six-month season. 

But because the Diamondbacks are in the midst of a sort of condensed, do-or-die stretch leading up to the trade deadline, it was hard to view it as just another loss. Their 7-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles felt bad.

Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly was destroyed, serving up three homers and recording just seven outs before exiting in the third. The Diamondbacks managed just five hits, none for extra bases. They did not put a runner into scoring position after the second inning. They hit into three double plays. Their only run-scoring hit came from their pitcher.

The Diamondbacks, at times, appeared lifeless. They looked that way against a team that came into the night on pace for 111 losses. The Diamondbacks’ clubhouse was quiet and deserted after the game. The loss wasn’t especially gut-wrenching, but it felt like a night that could rank among the worst of the season.

“Any loss is a bad loss for me,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I don’t like to lose anything. I know the players in that room feel the same way. Is it a bad loss? Yes. … 

“This is one of those days we have to throw it out because the turnaround is quick. We have to wash this one off as fast as we possibly can so it doesn’t linger into tomorrow’s day game.”

Renato Nuñez and Anthony Santander blasted homers off Kelly in the second, staking the Orioles to a 3-0 lead. An inning later, after Kelly got the first out in relatively easy fashion, the Orioles collected five consecutive hits to chase him from the game, the piece de resistance coming in the form of a three-run homer off the bat of Dwight Smith Jr. to put the Orioles in front 7-2.


Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly posed a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. That didn’t carry over Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.
Arizona Republic

“You hear me talk about giving my team a chance to win,” Kelly said, “and I think the most frustrating aspect about tonight is that I didn’t do that.”

For as solid of a debut season as Kelly has had in the majors, nights like Tuesday haven’t been as rare as he or the Diamondbacks would like. It was perhaps his fourth disastrous outing in his 21 starts, games in which he couldn’t keep runs off the board, struggled to get out of the early innings – or both. His ERA ballooned by nearly a half-run on Tuesday, from 3.77 to 4.23.

“I can’t explain it,” Lovullo said. “Why does it happen once every seven or eight starts? I can’t explain it.”

Lovullo wondered if the Orioles’ offensive explosion sucked the life out of his players. The Diamondbacks had managed to load the bases and score twice off Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy in the second inning, getting a two-run single from Kelly, the first hit of his major league career in his 39th plate appearance.

But Bundy, who needed 65 pitches to get through the first three innings, needed just 24 pitches to put up zeroes in his next three innings.

“I think after the seven runs were scored we got a little flat-lined, no doubt about it,” Lovullo said. “There was a tiny bit of energy and we hit a couple of balls hard and didn’t have anything to show for it.”

Said Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker: “I think he (Bundy) just found a better feel for the zone, to be honest. He threw well. Other than that, there’s really not much you can say about it. He was hitting his spots, nibbling and getting the corners. It was a good outing for him, for sure.”

The loss dropped the Diamondbacks to three games out in the wild-card hunt. It also dropped them into third place in the National League West, a game back of the surging San Francisco Giants. 

With a week to go before the trade deadline, the Diamondbacks, at 51-51, continue to give their front office little reason to believe it should keep the band together beyond July 31.

“The belief that a .500 team is going to win the World Series,” Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen said on Monday, “get through the wild-card format that we have and win the World Series is — I don’t think, objectively, that’s a position we should be staking ourselves to.”