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Touch ‘Em All: Another San Diego sweep

Diamondbacks fans, it’s time to make sure you have a nice TV and a comfortable couch, because that is where you and the D-backs will be watching the postseason from this year.

Arizona has fallen back to .500 after being swept at home in a three-game series by the San Diego Padres this past weekend.

“When you get in streaks like this, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair,” said Kirk Gibson after Sunday’s loss.

When asked about the team’s playoff chances, Gibson said “crazier things have happened,” and after the way September was last season can anyone say he’s wrong?

One thing is certain; the Diamondbacks are not playing good baseball, not by a long shot. They are now 2-5 over the first seven games of this crucial 10-game home stand.

The Results

Game 1
When a team and an organization enter a series and are thinking sweep, a crushing series opening loss can be tough to swallow. On Friday night that is exactly what happened; the D-backs were four-hit by the Padres and Patrick Corbin had one of his worst starts as a big leaguer. To give you an idea of how bad the game was, the game highlight video shown at Chase Field towards the end of the game featured only a few actual plays from the game and was mostly focused on the fans. Padres 5, Diamondbacks 0

Game 2
With one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second inning, Justin Upton got the crowd into the game and made a statement that this game would be different from the first. Upton hit a line drive off the right-center field wall that ricocheted away from all the Padres outfielders and allowed J-Up to score on a two-run inside-the-park home run. However, that would be the high point for the D-backs, as they would get only five more hits the rest of the night. Ian Kennedy continued to struggle, as he gave up six runs in 5.1 innings of work. Padres 9, Diamondbacks 3

Game 3
Trevor Cahill didn’t pitch well, the D-backs’ hitting was erratic and the Padres scored all five of their runs with two outs. Kirk Gibson said the team had a lot of energy prior to the start of the game, but it didn’t transfer too well onto the field. Arizona is now 10-19 in one-run games this season. Padres 5, Diamondbacks 4

What it Means
Arizona is now 7 games behind the Giants and they are 6.5 games back of the final wild card spot with a record of 64-64. Let’s assume for a second that the Giants and Dodgers play .500 ball the rest of the way (which they won’t). The Diamondbacks would need to go 25-9 the rest of the way just to tie for the division lead. That isn’t happening, plain and simple.

Series Report Card

Record: F
The Diamondbacks needed to win this series; a sweep would have been ideal. There was a sweep, but it was not what Kirk Gibson’s squad was hoping for. The team’s playoff hopes are looking more and more like a mirage with every series.

Offense: D
The Diamondbacks have now failed to score at least five runs in five consecutive games and six of their last seven, all at home, making this the second longest such streak of the season. Ironically, the longest such run last season was the nine-game streak between August 16th and August 24th. For whatever reason, Arizona just doesn’t like to score runs this time of year. There was really no timely hitting for the D-backs in the three games. They struggled to get runners on base, and when they did they couldn’t get them around to score. Chris Johnson, after all the praise he received when he first got to the Valley, has slowed down considerably of late. He went just 2-for-10 in this series and is just four for his last 30 at-bats (.133) with no home runs and two RBI. Just to compare, Ryan Roberts is nine for his last 30 at-bats (.300) with one home run and five RBI. So was it smart to so quickly shun Tatman? I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

Defense: A-
A good series from a fielding standpoint for Kirk Gibson’s squad, as they went errorless over this three-game set. Aaron Hill had several nice sliding plays at second base, Miguel Montero threw out his first base runner since mid-July and of course there was Paul Goldschmidt’s “Web Gem” unassisted double play in the first inning on Friday.

Pitching: D
The Diamondbacks’ starting pitching was atrocious in this series, as no pitcher made it into through the sixth inning. Patrick Corbin, Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill combined for a 9.69 ERA in 14 innings of work. The other major problem is that number of innings pitched; your starters shouldn’t be pitching only half of the innings of a series. That is a good way to burn out your bullpen in a hurry. All three of the starters earned losses for their performances. The bullpen was erratic at times but did a very good job since it accounted for almost half of the innings in the series.

Managing: C-
Kirk Gibson started Chris Johnson every game against San Diego and while I understand that this team really has no other decent option at third base, I’d much rather see a younger player get a chance to prove himself. Can’t get any worse at the hot corner, can it?

Series Awards

Play of the Series:
Justin Upton’s inside-the-park two-run home run on Saturday night. Upton was returning from a hamstring injury, but you could never tell by the way he ran the bases during that home run.

Player of the Series:
Justin Upton. Although he did not play on Friday, he went 4/8 in the series with a home run, two runs scored and two RBI.

Quote of the Series:
“We probably overachieved last year. Maybe this is more who we really were.” -Kevin Towers before Sunday’s game.

The “Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag” Award:
The Diamondbacks starting pitching. I’ve been over the numbers already.

Best Moment of the Series:
This is more something that had to do with me rather than any of the games, but pregame on Friday I had a long conversation with Breeja Larson, an Arizona native, who won gold at the London Olympics in swimming. She let me hold her gold medal and since I don’t see myself participating in the Olympics any time soon, that was an amazing experience.

The Road Ahead:
The Diamondbacks continue their home stand with a three-game set against the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds. Tyler Skaggs makes his second big league start Monday in the opener against Reds veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo.