Wearing a Players’ Weekend jersey with a pair of emojis that depict a box and a hamburger in place of his name, Diamondbacks closer Brad Boxberger entered Saturday’s game to a jovial atmosphere.

But the mood inside Chase Field quickly shifted, as Boxberger allowed two runs in the ninth, blowing the save en route to a 4-3 loss that forced the Diamondbacks into a first-place tie with the Colorado Rockies in the NL West.

Boxberger, the first player in MLB history to wear emojis on the back of his jersey, allowed a one-out walk to former Diamondbacks infielder Jean Segura and then yielded a single to Mariners outfielder Nelson Cruz to bring the tying run to the plate for Seattle.

BOX SCORE:  Mariners 4, Diamondbacks 3 (10)

“I thought he had good velocity on his fastball and threw some good splits,” manager Torey Lovullo said of Boxberger’s outing. “I just think the base on balls to Segura was probably the start of where it went a little bit backwards on him.”


The Diamondbacks were one out away from a win on Saturday. Instead, the Mariners took it to extras, where they won 4-3 in the tenth.
Katherine Fitzgerald, The Republic | azcentral.com

Two batters later, Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager looped a two-run double to send the game to extra innings.

In the 10th, Diamondbacks left-hander Jake Diekman allowed a go-ahead homer to Mariners outfielder Denard Span, who sent the ball into the Chase Field pool.

“You’re an out away from winning the game and securing a nice win,” Lovullo said. “It just didn’t work out. It’s a tough way to lose a game.”

Boxberger has been inconsistent at times this season but his struggles have generally come on outings when he pitches on one or no days of rest. He was pitching on four days of rest on Saturday.

Boxberger gave the impression that he chalked up Saturday’s blown save more to hard luck than a lack of execution.

The Cruz single had an exit velocity of 112.3 mph but had a hit probability of just 58 percent. By contrast, Seager’s game-tying double left the bat at 80.4 mph but had a hit probability of 91 percent.

“I was feeling great,” said Boxberger, who entered the game with an ERA of 5.68 since July 26. “I got a ground ball (on Cruz) that just beat the shift and that’s going to happen. And then a ball barely stays fair (on Seager). It just didn’t work out today.”


Diamondbacks reliever Brad Boxberger discusses his blown save against the Mariners in Arizona’s loss on Saturday.
Katherine Fitzgerald, The Republic | azcentral.com

The loss was especially frustrating for Lovullo given how the Diamondbacks had put themselves in position to win the game after struggling offensively in the early going.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed kicked off the seventh inning with a leadoff single and second baseman Ketel Marte followed with a walk. Murphy then dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line, putting runners at second and third with just one out.

Jon Jay was announced as a pinch-hitter and, for the second time this homestand, came off the bench only to be hit by a pitch. It was the 15th time he was hit by a pitch since being acquired by the Diamondbacks on June 6, which is the most over that stretch.

The next batter, outfielder A.J. Pollock, poked a 2-2 offering through the left side of the infield to score Ahmed and Murphy and give the Diamondbacks a two-run lead.

It was the second time in four games that the Diamondbacks manufactured a go-ahead run in the late innings. As was the case in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Jay, Murphy and Pollock all played similar roles.

Left-hander Robbie Ray did not have his best command on Tuesday but was able to make it through five innings of one-run ball. He threw 104 pitches (56 strikes, 48 balls), walked four and struck out seven.


Richard Morin covers the Coyotes and Diamondbacks for azcentral sports. He can be reached at [email protected] and by phone at 480-316-2493. Follow him on Twitter @ramorin_azc