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D-backs eliminated in Paul Goldschmidt’s return to Chase Field

Paul Goldschmidt #46 of the St. Louis Cardinals tips his helmet to the crowd prior to his first at bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 23, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was Goldschmidt's first time back at Chase Field since being traded to St. Louis. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Maybe it’s fitting on some level. The Arizona Diamondbacks exceeded the expectations laid out for them this year, only to be eliminated in the final week of the season – on the night that Paul Goldschmidt finally made his return to Chase Field in an opposing uniform.

Goldschmidt didn’t just show up and wave to the crowd, either. He homered, drove in two runs, scored three more and reached base three times. So he played a major role in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 9-7 victory that dropped the D-backs to 80-77 and officially knocked them out of the wild card race.

Prior to the game, the team played a tribute video for the man that spent the better part of a decade being the face of the franchise. Goldschmidt talked about how much the fans in Arizona mean to him during batting practice, and they reciprocated the feeling during the game. His first plate appearance drew a standing ovation, and he received cheers in each at-bat after. Even his third-inning home run was met with some applause.

“Coming in, it’s all what you make of it,” Goldschmidt explained. “For me it was just another game. I’m appreciative of all the fans that came out and cheered me on, standing ovation and all that. I just didn’t want to make too big of a deal out of it.”

He couldn’t help but notice the video, though.

“I was very appreciative of the time it took for the Diamondbacks to make that. And even that they thought about doing that. It was totally unnecessary and just kind of shows the type of organization they are. It was great and, like I said, I was very appreciative.”

So yeah, maybe it is fitting. In some twisted way, sports fans in the Valley don’t really deserve at this point. Not after a weekend that saw ASU stumble against Colorado, and the Arizona Cardinals whiff on a chance to pick up their first win against a backup quarterback at home.

But that’s the reality. And ultimately, the 2019 campaign will mostly be remembered as a positive one where the D-backs overachieved. Especially given the players they lost in the offseason, the injuries they suffered during the year and the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Houston at the deadline.

That deal should have signified them waving the white flag, while quickly rebuilding for the future. Instead, they went on a run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7 where they won 11 of 12 and snuck right back into the race.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Torey Lovullo pointed out. “I’m proud of the way that we fought all year long.”

Arizona has gone just 5-10 since then, though, and Monday’s loss – coupled with Washington’s 7-2 win over Philadelphia – means the final five games will be meaningless in the standings. Lovullo still has expectations for his team, though.

“Just because we are now officially eliminated doesn’t mean we’re going to change our mindset,” Lovullo promised. “I want these guys to go out and play the type of baseball they played all year long, and my expectations are not going to change whatsoever.”

The D-backs still have two games left in this series against the Cardinals, then they’ll close it out with three home games against the Padres this weekend. One more win guarantees that they’ll finish .500 or better for the third consecutive season. And while that’s something to shoot for now, Lovullo wants to be playing for more soon.

“I want this entire community – I want this baseball community, I want this town, I want this state – to be really proud of us,” he said. “And tell a great story one day. I think we’re on our way there. We fought hard, we did what we were supposed to do, the way we did it. Like I said, I just think we left a little bit of money out there on the table. A little bit of meat on that bone still. And we’ll figure out how to make that better for next year.”

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