DAN BICKLEY

In a season of extremes for the Diamondbacks, they’re losing their identity at the wrong time

Oct 17, 2023, 9:06 PM | Updated: 11:14 pm

It has been a season of extremes for the Diamondbacks.

There have been exhilarating peaks, including a postseason sweep of the Dodgers.

There have been sobering lows, like 25 losses in a span of 42 days. And now, they return to the Valley in yet another valley.

A 10-0 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday was more than embarrassing. It marked the first time our baseball franchise has been shutout in 47 postseason appearances.

Of far greater import, it marked the first time the Diamondbacks have looked overmatched in the 2023 postseason.

Game 2 was a thundering reminder: The Diamondbacks are in the ring with a heavyweight opponent and this opponent hits hard. Mistakes become home runs against the Phillies, a team that launched three more home runs on Tuesday. They are a powerful team built for prime time, a team that has a staggering 15 home runs in the past four games, which are currently enjoying a 19-4 advantage in postseason home runs.

But in Game 2, there were other telling signs. As the wheels came off the series, the Diamondbacks seemed to lose their nerve. A harmless popup fell between third baseman Evan Longoria, catcher Gabriel Moreno and pitcher Ryne Nelson. It was Little League 101 and no one made a play on the ball. The bullpen struggled to extinguish fires. And when outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seemed to forget how many outs had been recorded in the eighth inning, it all led to an undeniable conclusion:

The shell-shocked Diamondbacks checked out early in this one. After the Phillies plated four runs in consecutive innings late in Game 2, the fight had disappeared.

October baseball inevitably brings critics and nitpickers. Manager Torey Lovullo might’ve pulled Merrill Kelly too soon. After posting 54 stolen bases in a historic rookie season, Corbin Carroll again reached base to lead off the game and again refused to challenge the Phillies’ defense. It’s almost like the Diamondbacks have lost their taste for chaos.

They generated very little offense against Phillies starter Aaron Nola, and once again, they seem to be grasping for their identity.

To be fair, the Phillies have one of the best home-field advantages in MLB history. A majority of fans remain standing the entire game. This team needs to reset and refocus.

But there is also a growing sentiment that we have reached the end of our journey, that our plucky Diamondbacks have encountered an unstoppable force: the kind of team they will hopefully become in the very near future.

Dan Bickley

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In a season of extremes for the Diamondbacks, they’re losing their identity at the wrong time