The July resurgence of Steven Souza Jr. has given the D-backs a spark
Aug 2, 2018, 7:11 AM | Updated: 11:39 am
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
After injuries devastated the first several months of Steven Souza Jr.’s tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks, his July resurgence helped the team go into August with a half-game lead in the National League West.
In 14 games in May, Souza had almost twice as many strikeouts (13) and he did hits (seven).
He had just one RBI his batting average was well below .200.
After missing June, the outfielder got a hit in six of his first eight games in July.
It set pace for a month of 21 hits, two home runs, 14 RBI and a .292 batting average, .129 above his May output.
Souza said his stamina has been the difference.
“When I initially came up (in May), I felt just as good, but my endurance wasn’t great. So the longer I played or the more I threw, the more tired I would get, and I don’t think that’s something that anybody could plan for,” he said before the game Monday.
“This time, I’m able to just continuously let it go and wake up the next morning feeling great.”
At a time when division rival Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their lineup with infielders Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, Souza has filled a void the D-backs struggled to find consistency from this season.
Since the All-Star break, Souza has hit in the fourth or fifth spot in every game he’s played. He’s batting .342 with a .432 OBP behind players in the batting order like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock.
Souza is making the most of having runners on base.
In July games in which Souza played and didn’t have an RBI, the D-backs were 4-7. In games he did, they were 6-2 — and in the loss on July 30, he hit a three-run home run to give the D-backs a lead going into the sixth inning.
“Even the losses we’re having, we’re coming through offensively,” he said. “Our bullpen has picked us up all year long, so once we get it all together, it’s going to be special.”
Defensively, he’s been just as impactful.
In a 5-4 win over the Padres on Sunday, Souza feinted as if he were diving at a ball. It forced Eric Hosmer, the runner at first base, to pause before heading toward second base. Souza threw him out.
“That’s actually the first time I’ve done it,” Souza said. “It’s nothing new. We try to deke as much as we can to see if we’ve got a ball to hold runners.”
Had Hosmer been on base, he would have scored when the next batter hit a double.
“The group is very dynamic and is willing to try things and they’re creative,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “These guys aren’t in a box trying to do things. They think outside of the box every single day.”
Souza made a play closer to the ones you would normally see on SportsCenter on Monday night against the Rangers. He actually dove this time, nabbing a hard-hit ball down the right field line by shortstop Elvis Andrus to open the sixth inning.
Before the game Monday, Souza noted that margins in losses had been razor-thin.
“We legitimately could have been 10-0. We’ve had a chance in every single game,” he said. “We keep playing like that the rest of the year, it’s going to end up well.”