If you’ve seen the wonderful baseball movie The Natural, you remember the scene where the New York Knights’ on-field troubles got so bad they brought in a clubhouse psychologist.
“Losing is a disease, as contagious as bubonic plague,” he said. “Affecting one, but infecting all.”
After a 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night at Chase Field that sunk their home record to 2-15 on the season, the Arizona Diamondbacks might be ready for a visit from that same clubhouse shrink.
After A.J. Pollock homered in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the score 4-4, D-backs closer Addison Reed surrendered a solo home run to Colorado’s Drew Stubbs in the top of the ninth, which sealed the deal for the Rockies.
The Diamondbacks have found a variety of ways to lose games, and all of them have general manager Kevin Towers scratching his head.
“Everything,” Towers replied with a frustrated laugh when asked what was dooming his team on Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “Every day, every evening brings something different that affects this ball club. One day it’s something. The next day it’s something else.”
The D-backs are 8-22 and still haven’t won a home series in 2014. Towers believes a lot of the struggles are self-inflicted.
“It’s pretty evident, especially here at home, guys are pressing a great deal. They care and they feel they’re letting down the organization and the fan base,” he said. “We have such great, supportive fans. The weekend series against the Phillies, and they get here and they press and probably try to do a little bit more than they’re used to and they struggle.
“We get on the road, it’s a little different environment. You don’t have your hometown crowd and I think our guys relax a little bit more.”
There is some truth to what Towers says — the D-backs are a respectable 6-7 away from Chase Field (not counting the Australia trip) and the one series win they have came on the road when they took two of three in San Francisco earlier this month.
The reasons for the team’s home woes have yet to be diagnosed, but Towers doesn’t believe the struggles stem from a lack of effort.
“I believe in their ability, these guys are trying,” he said. “I don’t doubt one guy in the clubhouse that they’re going out there and giving everything they have. It just happens to be that the first five weeks of the season — we’ve just had a horrible, horrible April.
“We’re playing like teams that lose 100 games in a season, we’re on that that track. We’re not that bad.”
The losing has led to rampant speculation on the job security of both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. In fact, some have surmised that Gibson could be let go if the D-backs lose the series finale to Colorado Wednesday night, with an off day and a nine-game road trip to San Diego, Milwaukee and Chicago looming.
“I plan on hopping on the plane with him (Wednesday),” he said. “He’s going to be sitting next to me in the same seat as we head to San Diego, hopefully after a victory.”