CHICAGO — Diamondbacks infielder Geoff Blum expressed after Saturday’s loss that, despite back-to-back losses to the Cubs to open the second half of the season, no one was “freaking out.”
But after getting swept out of Chicago with a 3-1 loss Sunday, it was abundantly clear that the D-backs are getting frustrated.
In the third inning, right fielder Justin Upton who slammed his bat and helmet to the ground following a strikeout to end the third inning. In the fourth, left fielder Gerardo Parra swung through a pitch to end the inning and followed by striking the ground with his bat, though less emphatically than Upton. And in the fifth, Willie Bloomquist flipped his helmet in the air as the inning ended on the team’s sixth double play of the series.
“Why wouldn’t they (be frustrated)?” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson asked after the game. “That’s not what we had in mind. It’s frustrating. They’re busting their tails. That’s what baseball does to you.
“We’ll have to get rid of it and come back and prepare for the Reds tomorrow.”
The D-backs avoided the embarrassment of a shutout thanks to Aaron Hill’s eighth-inning solo home run but still finished with a mere three runs scored in three games.
“The story of the series is our lack of offense, the inconsistency we had with the bats,” Gibson said. “We’re very streaky, and we just haven’t had quality at-bats.”
The D-backs struck out eight times Sunday, including four to end innings, and went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the series. The D-backs players again credited strong Cubs pitching — which was highlighted Sunday by Matt Garza’s seven scoreless innings and five hits allowed — but clearly understand they are not getting the job done offensively.
Additionally, none of the D-backs’ starters went more than six innings in the three-game sweep, a troublesome development at the start of a 20-game stretch without an off day. If that continues, the D-backs may be dealing with a taxed bullpen by the time they get back to Chase Field next week.
“We know how the scheduling is and how much it’s going to count on us to go out there and, even if you don’t have your best stuff, be efficient and save the bullpen,” Cahill said. “Obviously it’s going to be tough, and we haven’t done our job, I guess, this first series.”
All the frustration with the first series of the second half, from pitching to hitting, once again underscored the D-backs’ inability this season to build on stretches like the first-half-ending three-game winning streak against the first-place Dodgers.
Be it in individual games or stretches, the D-backs’ trouble sustaining momentum has started to wear on the players, and Sunday featured possibly their most outward display of frustration yet this season.
“It’s like ‘Here we go, we’ve got it,’ and then boom, here it goes again,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “It’s not a good feeling. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Montero also said what many players and fans alike were thinking Sunday: The D-backs should not be getting swept by a team like the Cubs, who at 36-52 are preparing to sell off their most valuable pieces at the trade deadline.
“I know they’ve been playing pretty good lately, but still, we’ve got to be better than that,” Montero said. “We’ve just got to play better baseball — period.”
For all the frustration the D-backs expressed, though, they again expressed the importance of not carrying it over from day to day. That’s probably easier said than done, but Gibson contended Sunday morning that a win that day would send the D-backs to Cincinnati on a high note and with few concerns about the two previous days.
That flight will probably be a little quieter than Gibson had hoped as the team prepares for a four-game series with the NL Central-leading Reds, against whom a similar performance could have the D-backs falling from contention in a hurry.
“We’re going to go on to a very good club in Cincinnati tomorrow and it will be a huge challenge for us,” Gibson said. “We’ve got to pick up the pieces.”