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Lovullo: D-backs ‘wandering’ for four to five games is unacceptable

Arizona Diamondbacks Jake Lamb (22) walks to the dugout after striking out as home plate umpire Alan Porter throws the ball to Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo expanded on his Sunday comments following a loss to the Cubs that his teams had “wandering moments.”

In part, the first-year skipper said Tuesday, before his team’s 9-4 loss to the Astros, that even really good teams lose focus for a period.

“I feel strongly that every team, during the course of the six months, is going to have little moments where they just kind of wander, and that is what I was seeing,” Lovullo told Burns and Gambo on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “In our case, I felt like we would do it at times from game to game, maybe a couple of games in a row and then we would rebound and play five or six really good games.

“That to me was OK. It is not perfect. It is a hard game every single day. What’s been happening over the past three or four weeks is we’re playing one or two good games and wandering for four or five games, and to me that is unacceptable.”

The Diamondbacks skipper said he stands by his comments and wanted to make sure his team knew he expected more from them.

Arizona is 4-6 in its last 10 games and entered Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros 13-16 in the second half of the year. The Diamondbacks entered the All-Star Break with a 53-36 record.

“I just wanted these guys to know they are too good to wander,” Lovullo said. “They’re a quality group of guys, they know how to play the game, they’ve been playing all year long the same exact way.

“Our standard is to go out and play the best we possibly can every single night. Now, it isn’t about effort. The effort we give every single night is off the charts. We come out and we play as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around. I just wanted to make sure these guys were aligned with what I was thinking and not wandering at crucial moments.”

STAR PLAYERS STRUGGLING

Much like the Diamondbacks “drifting tendencies,” Lovullo said A.J. Pollock’s recent struggles are part of the ebbs and flows of a major league baseball season.

“When your best players are struggling it is really magnified,” he said. “I think we saw yesterday with Jose Altuve, he strikes out three times, is the catalyst of the Houston Astros, and they get shut out.

“That is all I am thinking about,” Lovullo said about trying to get players producing again. “What could I possibly do to jump into this and help? But, what I have learned over the course of this year is sometimes it is OK for me to sit back and just watch great players go through the ups and downs of the season and support them.”

Lovullo said he feels the lineup change he made a few weeks ago worked but added that making a drastic change would be “a little hasty for me to do.”

David Peralta has thrived in his new role batting leadoff, but Pollock has struggled in the two-hole. In 48 August at-bats, Pollock is hitting .146 with no home runs and one RBI.

Third baseman Jake Lamb is hitting .293 this month. But he hit just .178 in July and that has diminished his overall second half numbers. After being named to the All-Star Game for the first time this season, Lamb has hit .222 since the break with five home runs and 23 RBI.

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