The more the Arizona Diamondbacks win, the higher the expectations for the team are raised.
Following their 6-5 come-from-behind, walk-off victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday, their record stands at 50-28. That mark is good enough for third in all of baseball, second in the NL West and tops in the Wild Card race.
In other words, the D-backs are a playoff team with nearly half the season in the books.
So, how far can they go?
“We certainly believe in what we’re doing,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday morning. “I think night in and night out, the guys go out there for nine innings. I just think it’s a good characteristic of a team.”
While he knows it’s a cliche, the mindset is something they really believe in.
“It’s something that we talked to the guys about, Torey (Lovullo) talked to the guys about in spring training,” he added. “It’s something that we try to live every single day, and then you end up in situations like you have over the last few days, and I think that’s where it really manifests itself.”
The first-year GM pointed to Tuesday’s victory, in which the D-backs trailed 5-2 heading into the eighth inning, only to score two in that frame and then tie it in the ninth on a David Peralta home run.
Then, after Fernando Rodney pitched a clean 10th inning, a Chris Herrman single knocked in Rey Fuentes for the winning run.
It was Arizona’s 28th comeback victory of the season, and their fifth that was of the walk-off variety.
Their ability to come back is nice, but Hazen said the thing that impresses him most about his team is the steadiness it has played with, which he in part attributes to first-year manager Lovullo.
“That’s one,” he said. “We come into the office every game, win or lose, and we re-hash the game and talk through it and there’s a calmness and steadiness no matter if we win or we lose, in those conversations, so I can only imagine what it’s like in the dugout with those guys.”
Hazen then pointed to a pair of the team’s stars, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, noting they approach the game the same way every day. Singling out Goldschmidt more because Pollock has been on DL, he praised the first baseman’s effort and urgency being the same no matter how he or the team are faring.
He believes that mentality trickles down to the rest of the roster.
“And I think that impact, in the clubhouse, over time, allows you to have a lack of panic or ability to rise to the occasion, however you want to frame those situations where Herrman and Fuentes and (Daniel) Descalso have found themselves in so many different times and come through,” he said. “I think that’s where it manifests itself.”
The team has received contributions from its entire roster, with a new hero rising seemingly every game. It’s what good teams do.
Just, how good is this team?
Last season the D-backs won just 69 games, with their 50th victory not coming until Aug. 17. This year’s squad is better, obviously, which leads to questions of whether or not any more moves should be made to try and improve it further.
Hazen understands the more talented a team is the more games it will win, but when deciding how to tweak the roster a player’s fit is at the forefront of the discussions. Sometimes, maybe, skill takes a bit of a back seat in favor of character.
Every team needs its role players, after all, and Hazen said with regards to what he is trying to build in Arizona, they are important pieces.
“I think those guys add a layer of credibility to what you’re trying to do,” he said. “I think it gets the younger players that aren’t quite ready to step out into those lead spots, I think it gives them a little cover at times. I think it helps with the older veterans that have been here to help them sort of manage the clubhouse.
“So all those factors go into when you’re making those roster decisions; we’re always factoring makeup — what’s the impact going to be both on the field and in the clubhouse — we live with each other for 180, 190, 200 days straight with only a handful of off days. So having that culture inside of these walls is pretty important because you do go through a lot of ups and downs.”
- D-backs’ Yasmany Tomas suffers setback from strained right groin
- D-backs’ Rubby De La Rosa to undergo second Tommy John surgery
- D-backs’ Peralta back from paternity leave; Banda optioned
- Interleague to intergalactic: Space-themed D-backs head to Houston
- Sedona Red Recap: Anthony Banda struggles in D-backs’ loss to Astros