PHOENIX – It was only one game, just the first in A.J. Hinch’s new career as a major-league manager.
But if that’s what the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to call “organizational advocacy,” they may as well change the team’s color scheme back to purple and teal while they’re at it.
At least they won a World Series in the old threads.
Friday night, with the young former front-office man now running the team from the dugout, the Diamondbacks didn’t look terribly different than they did under deposed manager Bob Melvin.
They lost to the team with the worst record in baseball, as the Nationals handed them a 5-4 defeat in front of 28,640 at Chase Field.
Arizona (12-18) has dropped five of its past six and continues to draw skeptics, especially after naming a managerial replacement with no prior coaching or managing experience.
“I was proud of the guys for battling back and kind of answering the bell,” Hinch said. “Obviously we left a lot of guys on base, had some opportunities which you always reflect on, but the effort was there. I felt like the intensity was high. We came up a run short, which is unfortunate.”
Hinch’s debut started off well enough, with Yusmeiro Petit pitching out of a first-inning jam and Justin Upton driving in Felipe Lopez for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning.
But just like Hinch figures to have to do for the next several months, if not years, the Diamondbacks spent the rest of the night trying to catch up.
Cristian Guzman hit a two run-double in the second and Adam Dunn, the slugger the Diamondbacks let go during the winter by choosing not to tender him a qualifying offer, hit his eighth homer of the season in the third to give Washington (9-18) a 3-1 lead.
Jesus Flores added a homer in the fourth and hit a run-scoring single in the sixth as the Nationals led 5-3, despite RBI singles from Chris Young and Eric Byrnes.
Byrnes’ RBI single snapped a 0-for-17 skid at the plate. Entering the game as part of a double switch in the sixth, he singled again in the eighth and stole second as the Diamondbacks tried to mount a comeback.
Byrnes tried to steal third but was thrown out for the second out of the inning, and Lopez ended it by popping up to the catcher.
“It was a tough day,” Lopez said, “but everybody was focused” on trying to win a ballgame.
Meanwhile, a couple of hitting streaks continued Friday.
Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman extended his streak to 26 games, the longest in the majors, with a single off Petit in the first inning.
Upton’s single in the seventh extended his career-high streak to 15 games.
“I had to show up for work and be professional,” Upton said, “and the rest of the team did, too.”
Dunn, who spent part of last season with the Diamondbacks, praised Melvin.
“Bob, from the time I was here, was unbelievable,” Dunn said, “a great person, a great guy and a great baseball guy. It’s sad that someone like him has to get fired, because I know he did everything in his power. He’s just such a great baseball person. I can’t say enough good things about that guy.”