LOS ANGELES – Though the Diamondbacks have gone from trying to limit Brad Boxberger’s matchups to right-handed hitters to pulling him entirely from a save chance on Sunday afternoon, manager Torey Lovullo said there will be no change in the closer’s role.

“He’s still our closer,” Lovullo said. “We’re going to piece it together in different ways; you’ve seen that over the past week. But it’s go time. This is a situation where we can’t blink.”

On Sunday, Boxberger issued back-to-back walks to open the ninth inning, and, after a sac bunt moved the runners up, Lovullo opted to bring in Archie Bradley to face Matt Kemp, who wound up delivering the walk-off double.

“I fell behind some good hitters and didn’t want to give in,” said Boxberger, who walked Alex Verdugo on five pitches and then Max Muncy, whom he jumped ahead of 0-2.

“Any of those hitters can hit a home run and tie the game there. I pitched them carefully and lost both of them.”

Boxberger was asked if he could understand why Lovullo yanked him from the game.

“Uh, I mean, it’s not my decision on what move is made and what’s not,” Boxberger said. “If that’s what he wanted and that’s what he felt best with, that’s the way it goes.”

If Lovullo does decide to make a change at closer, the most logical candidate – at least at a time when Bradley is struggling – might be right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano, who retired all three batters he faced on Sunday and has a 2.02 ERA.

Hacking hitters

Part of the issue with the Diamondbacks’ slumping offense is that even when they are generating scoring chances – which, of late, hasn’t been often – they haven’t been able to deliver. 

In losing six of the past nine games entering Sunday, the Diamondbacks were hitting .173 (9 for 52) with runners in scoring position, and manager Torey Lovullo said the coaching staff is trying to remind the hitters that the pressure is on the pitcher and not them.

“What I ask these guys to do is understand the situation, understand what the at-bat is asking for and be patient,” Lovullo said. “I think at times when you’re not patient through at-bats, no matter what, it can be a challenge, and it’s obviously magnified with men in scoring position. It’s hard to do.”

Patience in those situations has been an issue, particularly on the road trip. Among the offenders has been second baseman Ketel Marte. Down by a run with two out in the ninth on Saturday night, Marte chased a fastball up and out of the strike zone, popping it up to end the game. Marte also hit a weak ground ball on the first pitch with the bases loaded in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Marte hasn’t fared well hitting with runners in scoring position in either of the past two seasons. This year, he’s 22 for 109 (.202) in those at-bats after going 8 for 53 (.151) last season.

“Maybe sometimes I try to do too much,” Marte said. “It’s part of baseball. I think I’m going to be better. I know what I can do. That’s just part of the game. Sometimes I’m going to do something special, but I can’t go out there and put pressure on myself.”

Cheat sheets

In Saturday night’s game against the Cubs, Phillies reliever Austin Davis consulted a scouting report he took out of his pocket during the eighth inning, only to have his cheat sheet confiscated by veteran umpire Joe West.

West said after the game the sheet constituted a “foreign substance.”

Since Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke also has been using a notecard with scouting reports – cameras caught him consulting it during a game in San Diego last month – Lovullo was asked what he thought of West’s interpretation.

Turned out, he hadn’t heard about what happened on Saturday, but he did receive a memo from the commissioner’s office on Sunday morning, clarifying the rule.

“The memo stated that as long as it doesn’t interfere with the pace of the game, a pitcher or a position player can pull a card out of their pocket,” Lovullo said. “If the umpire wants to check it and (determines) that it can doctor the baseball, they will remove him from the game. But if it’s just a card, he’s OK to have the card in his pocket.”


Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.