CINCINNATI — Through 92 games, the Arizona Diamondbacks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. But the season has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks with losses in 11 of the past 14 games, including a season-high five straight defeats.
Arizona (53-39) is hoping to get back on track this week when it begins a three-game series on Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
“Right now, everything that we get, we’re really having to work for,” Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta told The Arizona Republic. “Nothing is really coming easy. No one is handing us anything. It’s just one of those stretches. It’s tough. We’ll just keep grinding through it.”
With the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers looking to run away with the National League West, the Diamondbacks are running out of time. But they’ll get an opportunity to find their rhythm against a rebuilding Reds club that has lost four straight games and was outscored 35-12 while being swept in a four-game series during the weekend by the Washington Nationals.
The Reds tied a franchise record by allowing 13 home runs in the four games against the Nationals.
Left-hander Robbie Ray will start for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. He leads the major leagues with a 1.34 road ERA in eight starts. He’s tied with the Nationals’ Max Scherzer and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for third in the NL with 141 strikeouts.
Ray hasn’t had much success against Cincinnati, however, going 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts.
Reds manager Bryan Price promised right-hander Sal Romano would return to the rotation at some point after the All-Star break and it appears the 23-year-old will be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start Tuesday.
Romano, who doesn’t turn 24 years old until October, picked up his first major-league win in his last start, allowing two earned runs in a 6-3 victory on July 6 at Colorado.
In 10 starts at Triple-A this season, Romano is 1-4 with a 3.47 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 17 walks in 49 1/3 innings.
“He’s a big, strong kid who creates some good downward plane,” Price said. “He can pitch to contact and get some quick outs. The biggest challenge for a young pitcher is to be yourself and unload the pressures. He’s done a good job of that.”
Cincinnati (39-53) is hoping to get catcher Devin Mesoraco back from the disabled list at some point this week, possibly during the Arizona series. He has been on the DL with a left shoulder strain since July 3 but began what the Reds hope is a two-game rehab stint at Triple-A Louisville on Monday.
Arizona will be without right-handed reliever Randall Delgado, who was placed on the 10-day DL on Sunday with right elbow inflammation. J.J. Hoover was reinstated from the DL and will get an opportunity to face his former Reds teammates this week.
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