Having lost nine of their last 10, the Arizona Diamondbacks fell to the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Monday night.
A favorite baseball axiom of mine goes a little something like, “they say you can’t win a division in April…but you can surely lose it.” The Arizona Diamondbacks are doing all they can to lose this thing.
There’s righting the ship, then there’s performing a divine miracle. Sitting at 5-17, it’s not as if the D-Backs are even playing respectable baseball. It’s not that their games are close, or being decided on even one or two moments, they’re being mercilessly lashed.
Currently, they find themselves eight games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have not even begun to hit their stride. In fact, they haven’t had Clayton Kershaw sans Opening Day—a pretty solid weapon to have coming off the DL. What does Arizona have? Archie Bradley? A fine young arm nonetheless, but agree with him or not, General Manager Kevin Towers hit the nail on the head when he said that Bradley would be looked at as the savior. Heck, anyone with a pulse would be looked at as a savior at this point.
Signing Bronson Arroyo was a panic move. This could be evident by the lack of other capable starting pitchers, or the fact that Arroyo himself has been miserable. A known creature of habit, the rain delay more than likely did not bode well with Arroyo’s ever so intensive emotional body clock, but being shelled by the Chicago Cubs is a different story.
With the bottom third of the batting order doing the damage, Arroyo has been around long enough to recognize when and where the game eludes him. Allowing both Welington Castillo and Ryan Kalish to get hits in the bottom of the second was dramatic enough, but Travis Wood launching a three-run home run sits like vinegar in an open wound.
As if the three-run homer weren’t reason enough to squint the eyelids closed and look away, the additional RBI double from Wood in the bottom of the fourth sent a TV remote or two flying. Throwing seven dominant innings on the hill, striking out nine is misery enough, but when the pitcher himself drives in four runs, Diamondback fans could do nothing but wince.
A common strength of good clubs is their ability to battle back. Teams answer quickly when a desperate situation faces them. After giving up all these runs, no one had Arroyo’s back. One singular swing from Mark Trumbo made everyone ooh and aah, but his .210 batting average makes them want to hurl. A team so desolate for pitching traded away a valuable young arm for an all brawn, no base hit ballplayer.
Six of the Cubs nine hits came from the combination of Castillo, Kalish and Wood. No longer are we talking about the Puig’s and Gonzalez’s of the world, but guys no one could pick out of a police lineup.
Of course, there’s always Paul Goldschmidt. Yet again going 3-for-4 (ho-hum), Goldy raised his average to .333, reminding us all that he is the shining light amongst a dark valley of despair.
Another night game at Wrigley looms as the clubs will once again lock up at 5:05 P.M. tomorrow night. Still looking for his first quality start of the season, Arizona sends Brandon McCarthy to the hill in opposition of Jason Hammel for the Cubs.
It’s no longer become a matter of how the game will play out, but rather: Will it be the offense or the pitching that will doom the D-Backs first?