December 3, 2022

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Davies' D-backs debut a good one to build on

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PHOENIX — For the first time this season, the D-backs had a hit before the seventh inning. But there still wasn’t quite enough offense Saturday night in support of right-hander Zach Davies in his Arizona debut.

After Davies tossed five solid innings, the D-backs went on to fall, 5-2, to the Padres at Chase Field. Through three games, Arizona has scored only six runs — four of which came in the ninth inning of the season-opening walk-off victory on Thursday.

Here are three takeaways from the D-backs’ loss Saturday:

Davies’ debut provides reason for optimism
Davies, who was signed by the D-backs on March 23, induced plenty of weak contact and mostly worked out of trouble during his 75-pitch outing, stranding four baserunners over the first three innings. His only two runs allowed came in the third on a Manny Machado RBI double and a Jake Cronenworth RBI single. Davies retired the final five batters he faced and finished with his only 1-2-3 frame as he set down the Padres on 11 pitches.

But like last season when he was with the Cubs, walks were an issue for Davies, as he issued a trio of free passes. He had a National League-high 75 walks in 2021 — a career-high 4.6 per nine innings. That came after he averaged only 2.5 walks per nine from 2016-20.

“I was able to get quicker outs and make up for those longer at-bats, but that’s not always the case,” Davies said of his outing Saturday. “Hits are going to come, that’s obvious. I’m not denying that. But the walks, I definitely can control.”

Nonetheless, it was an impressive first showing for Davies, who could prove to be a strong addition to Arizona’s rotation as he looks to keep building up over his next few outings.

“Love how he works off the mound, he has a great tempo and pace. I think he’s a very instinctual guy,” D-backs bench coach Jeff Banister said. “He’s got that back and forth that can get hitters in between. And if you get hitters in between, you make pitches, you get outs. I feel confident that we’re going to see some good things from him.”

Peralta continues to show increased power
David Peralta had a big spring while showcasing a powerful swing, as he swatted five homers and posted a 1.320 OPS in 12 Cactus League games. He’s now carried that over to the regular season, as he went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run on Saturday, driving in both of the D-backs’ runs.

In 2021, Peralta had only eight homers in 538 plate appearances. His first home run of ‘22 was a 406-foot, opposite-field solo shot to left-center field off Padres starter Joe Musgrove in the sixth inning.

“A lot of loud contact,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s doing a great job getting his hands back. Stride is simplified. It’s just a very easy approach to the baseball, and he’s not missing the pitch he’s looking for.

“David, when he’s swinging the bat well, he’s pounding the ball into that left-center-field gap, and some carry out of the ballpark.”

If this is a sign of things to come for Peralta, the 34-year-old outfielder could be poised for a big year, especially once some other hitters get going around him.

The bats still need to break out
Outside of Peralta’s pair of run-scoring hits, the D-backs had only three knocks — Ketel Marte’s single in the first inning, Sergio Alcántara’s double in the second and Christian Walker’s single in the fourth. After Yu Darvish (six hitless innings) and Sean Manaea (seven no-hit frames) shut down Arizona in the first two games, Musgrove fanned eight over six strong innings in this one.

Musgrove worked quickly in the middle innings, retiring the D-backs on six pitches in the fourth and seven in the fifth. Once San Diego turned to its bullpen, Arizona went down quietly, mustering only a pair of walks over the final three frames.

But Lovullo was more pleased with the D-backs’ early offensive approach, even if it didn’t lead to a ton of results yet.

“I thought overall we did enough to keep ourselves in the ballgame, and that’s what we need to do,” Lovullo said. “It’s the type of game where we expect to go out and execute at a real high level at the back end and win, and, unfortunately, it didn’t happen today.”

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