D-backs happy with successful road trip

D-backs happy with successful road trip

WASHINGTON -- A baseball season is a long grind that stretches through a six-month regular season -- not to mention the six weeks of Spring Training that comes before it -- filled with late-night flights and hot summer days that can drain even the most well-conditioned athletes.

Baseball managers have to be aware of that and sometimes do what is best for the long haul rather than focus on the short-term and that's what D-backs manager Chip Hale was doing when he rested his two top hitters and several regulars in Thursday's 8-3 loss to the Nationals.

On the 10th and final day of a road trip that began in Seattle and ended at Nationals Park and with just one scheduled off day between now and Sept. 3, Hale did not start first baseman Paul Goldschmidt or outfielder A.J. Pollock as well as regulars Welington Castillo, Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings.

"It would have been nice to get this one today, but we knew coming in that two of our top guys we were going to give a rest to," Hale said. "I felt the guys did a good job to stay in the game."

Despite the loss, the D-backs had to be pleased with the way the road trip went, finishing it with a 6-4 record that include a three-game sweep of the Mariners, a 1-2 record in Houston and splitting the four-game series with the Nationals.

"Well, that's not too bad," infielder Aaron Hill said of the 6-4 mark. "Obviously, we would have loved to have come away with winning the series here. All in all, I thought we did pretty well. Our starters went deep into games. Our bullpen did a great job and guys kept fighting to the end offensively. Good road trip. Obviously, you'd love to win them all, but it feels like this team keeps getting a little bit better as we go on. It'll be fun to see how we finish here."

Pollock ended up pinch-hitting in the eighth and Owings played three innings defensively, but Goldschmidt wound up with the entire game off. It was just the second time all season that he hadn't started a game and the first time he had not at least made an appearance.

It looked like Hale might use Goldschmidt as a pinch-hitter in the seventh with no outs and runners on first and second, but instead he went with Castillo who singled to load the bases.

Rather than pinch-hit Goldschmidt after the Castillo single, Hale allowed Owings to hit and after Owings was retired and Ender Inciarte drove home a pair with a double, it was hard to argue with Hale's strategy.

"Bases loaded I was happy with the guys we had coming up," Hale said. "But yeah, of course, looking back on it now it probably would have been a good move. But at the time I was not tempted at all."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.