DAN BICKLEY

Diamondbacks play the victim in their own horror show in Game 4 against Rangers

Oct 31, 2023, 8:58 PM | Updated: 10:26 pm

It was the night of the living dead.

Unfortunately, we’re talking about the Arizona Diamondbacks and not Halloween.

Welcome to the Valley’s latest sporting debacle: an 11-7 loss to the Rangers before 48,388 that was embarrassing and mostly grotesque. It was a slasher movie and the other team had the chainsaw.

The Rangers mocked Arizona’s attempt at a bullpen game. They led 10-0 after three innings. Our vaunted defense started to crack, allowing five runs in the third inning. Corey Seager hit another monstrous home run and you wondered what it might take for the Diamondbacks to stop serving meatballs to their nemesis and maybe intentionally walk him. Especially with slugger Adolis Garcia lost to injury.

Bad strategy. Bad baseball. Bad loss.

“This is a grinder,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “This was nothing that we saw coming. We had guys that were throwing the ball extremely well. We were picking up the ball on defense. It all came unraveled on us there in a matter of two innings, and it’s 10 runs.”

What a buzzkill. The Diamondbacks returned home following riotous road win over the Rangers in Game 2, discovering their hometown had suddenly gone mad about baseball, emptying stores of all team-related merchandise. We all believed a parade was on its way.

Now they are, again, on the brink of elimination against a Rangers squad that has won 10-consecutive road games. They are in danger of becoming just like the 1992-93 Suns — a team that reached the NBA Finals and failed to win a game at home, going 0-3 in downtown Phoenix.

The vibe inside the stadium has suffered. Chase Field has been eerily silent for most of the past two games. There is plenty of excitement and plenty of people. But there isn’t much intensity or noise. Not like it was during the elimination game against the Dodgers.

Maybe it was the Diamondbacks’ slumping offense. Or maybe the exorbitant World Series ticket prices priced out the most passionate voices, changing the demographics and the decibel level.

When things got really bad on Tuesday, some fans began sending paper airplanes airborne, resulting in a scolding from P.A. announcer. An East Coast scribe turned to me and said, “Remember that the next time you talk smack about New York.”

Some of the blame lies on the shoulders of Mike Hazen, grand architect of the Diamondbacks. For all his genius — the homegrown talent, inspiring trades and a bullpen fixed on the fly — Hazen left this team without a legitimate No. 4 starter. And he knows it.

Just listen to Lovullo when asked what he’d prefer at this stage of the World Series:

“Drysdale. Gibson. Koufax. Gooden,” Lovullo said. “You name it. Let’s start right there …

“It’s not traditional at all if you’re looking at baseball through the 2005 lens, through the 1995 lens. But I think when you have to make adjustments, and you’ve got to be creative, this is one of those situations. Of course. I’d love to have four starters. It would make my life so much easier. (But) it’s going to be a chess game. I love that game. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

It was anything but fun. This was checkmate after the second move, the moment Lovullo brought Miguel Castro into the game.

The series isn’t over. The Diamondbacks need Zac Gallen to find his dominant self and save the season. Then maybe Merrill Kelly wins another road game in Texas and forces a Game 7. Once there, anything can happen.

Lovullo took solace in the team’s way-too-late offensive awakening, and how the crowd responded. An optimist might say Tuesday’s loss set the table for the most satisfying comeback imaginable. I wouldn’t put anything past the 2023 Diamondbacks.

But there were plenty of zombies and corpses inside our baseball stadium at the start of Game 4. Unfortunately, they were wearing Diamondbacks jerseys. And it’s going to take a lot to bring this team back to life.

Dan Bickley

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Diamondbacks play the victim in their own horror show in Game 4 against Rangers