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Touch ‘Em All: D-backs drop series to Angels

The Diamondbacks knew their American League West
interleague road
swing against two of baseball’s elite teams, the Texas
Rangers and Los
Angeles Angels, was going to be their toughest test of the
season thus far.
Unfortunately, they failed to answer the call.

The D-backs were the victims of two consecutive shutout
victories by the
Angels to close out a rocky six-game road trip.

“We knew it was going to be a tough trip,” manager Kirk
Gibson said
following Sunday’s loss. “We’d hoped for better results.”

The team left Arizona with a five-game winning streak, and
return home
having lost four of six games on the road, including those
back-to-back
shutouts. The offense, which scored 37 runs during that
five-game
winning streak, completely shut down in the four losses on
the trip, scoring
a combined one run in those four games.

A major issue with the team’s meager offense during the
course of the
season has been the production coming from the hot corner.
Since
being called up — supposedly to be the everyday third
baseman — Josh
Bell has hit a paltry .154 with one home run and three
RBI.

With the trade deadline looming, just a little over a
month away, the Snakes
need to decide if Bell or Ryan Roberts will be the long-
term answer at third
this season. If not, the team must seek out another viable
option, as the
virtual non-existence of the third base bat is a major
contributor to the
struggles of the offense.

Though the team only won one of three games against the
Angels, the
pitchers performed well enough to win all three games, if
the offense had
come alive. The D-backs hurlers gave up only three runs
in the entire
series, and when that happens, you expect to win.

You don’t expect a Major League Baseball team to get shut
out two games
in a row, but this squad has been riding the roller
coaster up and down all
season.

Postgame on Sunday, Gibson said the guys weren’t doing
anything
different than normal — they were just struggling at the
plate.

This season it has been a story of all or nothing
offensively for Arizona. If
one or two players are swinging the bats well, then the
whole team seems
to be hitting. However, if no one gets going, the entire
offense seems to
struggle.

Overall, I think after this series defeat against the
Angels, the D-backs
surely feel like a golden opportunity was lost.

Series Report Card

Record: C+
After departing Arlington with a 1-2 record, Arizona would
need to take
two games from the Angels in order to leave the tough road
trip at .500.
They failed. Now the D-backs head back to the desert two
games under
the even marker.

Offense: C-
The offense carried its strong performance on Thursday
into the game on
Friday, tagging former Diamondback hurler Dan Haren for
five earned runs
on eight hits. However, the squad was one-hit on Saturday
by Ervin
Santana, continuing the team’s trend of being inconsistent
offensively.

In Arizona’s last 12 wins, they have scored at least four
runs. However, in
their last eight losses, the team has scored no more than
two runs. So while
there have been some very good starts from D-backs
pitchers over the last
few weeks, it is clear the team goes as the offense goes.

Gibson’s squad cannot afford to tally offensive lapses as
it did over the
weekend. The D-backs compiled a string of 21 straight
innings without
scoring a run, stretching from the seventh inning on
Friday through Sunday
and heading into the upcoming series with the Mariners.
There is really no
excuse for being shut out two games in a row.

Defense: A-
The Diamondbacks defense continued its good play of late,
completing
another series without any major defensive lapses. Paul
Goldschmidt’s
error at first base in the fourth inning on Sunday was the
only error in the
series, and the play was just as much Ian Kennedy’s fault,
as his throw to
Goldschmidt could have been much more accurate. I can’t
fault Justin
Upton for being unable to find a fly ball in the sun in
the seventh inning on
Sunday. Still, the team’s 32 errors on the season are the
fourth-highest in
the majors, and tops in the National League.

Pitching: B+
Arizona’s starting pitching was very good in this series.
Trevor Cahill
pitched his best game of the season on Friday as the D-
backs won 5-0.
Each of the last 3 games Cahill has delivered his best
performances of the
season. On Friday he went seven strong innings allowing
only three hits
with no runs. On Saturday Joe Saunders faced his former
team for the first time and pitched well, giving up a two-
run home run to Mark
Trumbo for the only runs allowed in the ball game.
Unfortunately for
Saunders, the offense didn’t back him up, and the Angels
got the win.

Ian Kennedy pitched extremely well on Sunday, earning the
second
complete game of his career, but he still got tagged with
the loss. A 21-
game winner last season, Kennedy has now lost seven of his
last nine
starts. On Sunday, he deserved better. Overall, the
starting pitchers’ ERA
was 3.05 on this six-game road trip, which is a relatively
solid number — especially against two potent offenses.

Managing: A
Kirk Gibson tried to mix and match his lineup coming into
the game on
Sunday, in an effort to spark his anemic offense.
Unfortunately for Gibby,
the team’s bats remained ice cold and just would not heat
up for the
rubber game.

Series Awards

Play of the Series:
The play of the series came in the sixth inning of
Friday’s game as Aaron
Hill took a two-out Dan Haren pitch over the fence for a
three-run home
run that would seal the game for the Diamondbacks. The
Angels
intentionally walked clean up hitter Miguel Montero to get
to Hill, and Hill
made them pay.

Player of the Series:
Trevor Cahill, who tallied another great outing on Friday,
earned player of
the series honors. In Cahill’s seven strong innings, he
notched eight
strikeouts, and led the Snakes to their only win in the
series against the
Angels. Cahill now has three straight victories,
following a dismal five-start
winless streak.

The “Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag” award:
This award goes to the entire Diamondbacks lineup on
Saturday, as they
were one-hit by Santana. Santana was 3-7 with a 5.74 ERA
heading
into Saturday, and only Justin Upton was able to manage a
hit off of him.
Sure, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades,
but the D-backs
came one J-Up swing away from being no-hit.

Best Moment of the Series:
The best moment of this series was seeing it end, as the
last two games
were increasingly difficult to watch. I enjoy a pitcher’s
duel as much as the
next person, but eventually some runs have to be scored.
It will be a
welcome relief for the team to come home after really
struggling in
Anaheim.

The Road Ahead

The Diamondbacks return home to Chase Field to take on the
Seattle
Mariners in more interleague action. Ace Wade Miley will
look to get his
eighth win on Monday against Hector Noesi. The Mariners
are now 29-39
on the season, fourth in the AL West. The six-game home
stand presents a
great opportunity for Arizona to get back over .500 for
the first time since
early May.