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Understatement: Tuesday’s loss to Dodgers devastating for Diamondbacks

Let us begin with a euphemism: “The Diamondbacks’ loss on
Tuesday night was devastating.”

By the end of the third inning on Tuesday night, I thought
I was finally getting a glimpse of solid starting pitching
combined with run support and defense. Josh Bell — the
newly-ordained everyday third baseman — hit a 453-foot home run, Henry
Blanco had thrown out two base stealers, Lyle Overbay
turned a 3-6-3 double play and Trevor Cahill was pitching

By the end of the fifth inning, I was a believer. The
offense was clicking. Justin Upton had back-to-back RBI
hits with runners in scoring position. Cahill had five
strikeouts, the Dodgers had just four hits, and opposing
starting pitcher Aaron Harang was out of the game.
Then, when Brad Ziegler was throwing warm-up tosses before
the start of the seventh inning, I knew the
Diamondbacks were going to hold on to their five-run lead
and get back within 10 games of the Dodgers in the NL
West. Ziegler had been the most consistent Diamondback
reliever to date and the bottom of the Dodgers’ order was
due up.

And after Lyle Overbay picked up Ziegler and Craig Breslow
by getting his fourth hit of the night — a go-ahead home
run in the bottom of the eighth — I was, again, sure that
the Diamondbacks would win. After all, they were a team
that was 84-0 when leading after the eighth inning last
year and J.J. Putz had converted all of his previous four
save opportunities, going two-for-two in the previous
series versus Kansas City.

The next inning, as Ivan de Jesus Jr. brought his career
.194 batting average into the batter’s box with two outs,
I still had my money on Putz and the Diamondbacks to win,
despite the two Dodgers on base.

And, somehow, I still liked the Diamondbacks chances to
win with men on the corners and one out in the bottom of
the ninth when Jason Kubel, who already had a sacrifice
fly in the game, stepped up to the plate.

Of course, Kubel grounded into a game-ending double play
with a full count and the Diamondbabacks — predicted by
most to win the NL West pennant — fell to an unthinkable
11.5 games back of the Dodgers.

There’s no reason to be certain of anything with this
year’s Diamondbacks. So far, every member of the bullpen
has had multiple implosions. A quarter of the way through
the season, Ian Kennedy has three quarters of his loss
total from last year. Until recently, the team’s
situational hitting has been dismal. There are no
timetables for the returns of Stephen Drew and Takashi
Saito. The supposed solution at third
has never played even a third of a major-league
season, and he committed an incredibly costly error last
night. Paul Goldschmidt isn’t producing. Miguel Montero’s
injury puts either Henry Blanco or Konrad Schmidt behind
the plate. Daniel Hudson wasn’t too great before he was
moved to the disabled list, and there’s no guarantee that
he’ll be any better when he returns. J.J. Putz has
imploded five times in 16 games and has an 0-3 record with
a 7.20 ERA. And the Diamondbacks have an MLB-worst 4-11
record in one-run games.

It doesn’t stop there. The Diamondbacks are looking to
avoid the sweep Wednesday by sending Joe Saunders, who is
0-2 with a 9.44 ERA in his last three starts, to the hill
to face the undefeated Ted Lilly, who will bring a 5-0
record with a 1.79 ERA into the game. And it’s not Lilly’s
record nor ERA that are the most worrisome for the
Diamondbacks. It’s the fact that he fits squarely into the
Barry Zito/ Jamie Moyer/ Bruce Chen/ Chris Capuano crafty
southpaw mold, which has dominated the
team as of late

A win Wednesday night will get the Diamondbacks back to
10.5 games back from the division-leading Dodgers. Another
loss, and the defending NL-West champs would be a whole
12.5 games back in the division, their season in shambles
just over a quarter of the way through the season.