The Diamondbacks’ 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at a lifeless Chase Field raised a sort of chicken-or-egg question: Was the energy level down because of what was happening on the field? Or was it the lack of action that lulled the ballpark into a state of, um, quiet observation?
Both could be true, of course, not to mention the fact that hardly anyone was in the building in the first place.
“From an energy standpoint, this one was definitely tough,” Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen said. “We kind of joked that we might have had more cardboard cutouts here last year than we did at the game tonight. It was a little bit tough. That’s kind of what happens when you have two teams that are struggling.”
Not that this is unusual for the Diamondbacks, who seem to either play before small crowds — they have the third-lowest attendance in the National League — or in front of large packs of visiting fans, particularly when the Los Angeles Dodgers are in town.
The Diamondbacks did not give the announced crowd of 8,758 much to cheer about. They had just three hits and had just two at-bats with a runner in scoring position.
“I felt like it dragged on for the first couple of innings like we had a day off yesterday,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Typically, it’s a couple of innings of finding your feet and then working into the game. Look, this is where we’re at. I saw the same game you saw. We’ve got to do better. I know we’re capable of a lot more.”
Gallen turned in a decent start, pitching into the seventh inning for just the third time this season. But the three runs he allowed in the fourth turned out to be the difference. The Rangers collected five hits in the inning, the biggest blow coming in the form of a go-ahead, two-run single by Jason Martin, who yanked a 1-2 change-up through the right side.
Gallen said it wasn’t exactly a pitch he wanted back, nor could he highlight any that he felt were clear mistakes.
“I think they hit one ball harder than 90 miles per hour in that inning,” Gallen said. “That’s kind of baseball, though. … Just unfortunate luck in that inning, really.”
Gallen saw some positives. He felt like he was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes for what he said was the first time since he returned from the injured list in July, something that he believes bodes well for the rest of the season.
“That makes the outings a lot easier, when they’ve got to respect four or five pitches up there,” he said. “They can’t really zone up certain pitches. That’s probably the biggest positive I’m going to build off of.”
On the other side of the ball, the offense did not have many positives. Not only were they not collecting hits, they weren’t even hitting balls hard off Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles, who threw the final seven innings after taking over for right-hander Spencer Howard, who was limited after a stint on the COVID injured list.
Lyles entered the day leading the American League in hits, homers and earned runs allowed.
“I do want to be respectful,” Lovullo said, “but I feel like if our guys were patient and waited certain pitches out in certain counts — I have very high expectations of them — I feel like they could have done a better job.”
The loss was the Diamondbacks’ 9th in their past 10 games and their 13th in the past 17. It dropped them to 45-94 (.324), leaving them just percentage points ahead of the Baltimore Orioles, who are 44-93 (.321).
“There’s no mystery to it,” Lovullo said. “To be your competitive best, you have to go out there and execute at the most critical times. To me it’s all about laser focus when it’s needed the most to go out and block out the noise and execute at that high level. I think a lot of times we get frustrated because we’ve been having to deal with a lot of frustration and things start to pile up on us.”