PHOENIX (AP) The pitching staff has struggled, at the front end this time instead of the back.
The defense, once a strength, has become a weakness, balls kicked and thrown all over the ballpark.
The hitting, nowhere close to good enough.
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Struggling in all aspects and awful at home, the Arizona Diamondbacks are off to the worst start in franchise history and morale in the desert has hit rock bottom.
”You get worn out, not only when you’re not performing well by yourself, but when the whole team is doing it,” starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy said. ”(When) everybody around you is in that same boat, the team isn’t winning and nothing positive is happening, you don’t really have anything to hang on to.”
Arizona opened the season by losing two games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia while everyone else back home was still in spring training.
It didn’t get much better when they got back.
With Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Mets, the Diamondbacks dropped to 10 games under .500 and 7 1-2 games out of first in the NL West before the season is even a month old.
At 4-14, Arizona has the worst record in baseball and is off to the worst start in franchise history, surpassing the 1998 team that nearly lost 100 games.
The worst part is that the Diamondbacks seem to be worse at home.
Arizona led once after an inning during a six-game homestand that ended Wednesday night and has lost eight straight games at Chase Field. Overall, the Diamondbacks are 1-11 in home games, including the two in Australia.
”Pretty much this point, the struggles have been all over,” Arizona catcher Miguel Montero said. ”We can’t just point a finger and say it’s a struggle just at home. We’ve been in a struggle all over. It’s obviously something we need to get better at, just keep battling. That’s all we can do, just go out there and keep pushing hard, see what happens.”
It will take a massive redirection for the Diamondbacks to turn things around, starting with their pitching.
In previous seasons, the bullpen was the part of the staff that always held Arizona back by blowing leads and saves.
It has started with the starters this season.
Arizona’s rotation has two quality starts on the season and the starters are averaging 5.06 innings per start, worst in the majors. The Diamondbacks also have baseball’s highest ERA at 6.02 and have issued 69 walks, second-most in the majors.
Arizona’s staff took a big hit when No. 1 starter Patrick Corbin had Tommy John surgery before the season, but no one has stepped up to carry any of the load.
”It doesn’t really get much lower than it is right now,” right-hander Bronson Arroyo said after allowing nine runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 9-0 loss to the Mets on Tuesday. ”It’s tough to come to the park every day and have the starting rotation give up runs early.”
The rest of the team hasn’t done much to help them out.
With two errors Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks have 15 on the season, tied for second-worst in the majors. After finishing fourth in baseball with a .988 fielding percentage in 2013, Arizona is 19th this season at .978.
Hitting, usually the Diamondbacks’ strength, has been so-so so far.
Arizona is hitting .251 on the season, 14th in the majors, and is hitting .192 with runners in scoring position. The Diamondbacks hit .192 in three games against the Mets and had an 18-inning scoreless streak until Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back homers in the ninth inning Wednesday night.
”Obviously, these last couple of weeks, it hasn’t gone our way as a whole,” Goldschmidt said. ”We’ve made mistakes defensively, base running, pitching, hitting, all the way around. We haven’t really put it together except for a few games and when you do that you’re going to lose.”
So far, owner Ken Kendrick has supported general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. He signed them to contract extensions in February and recently gave them a vote of confidence.
That, as is usually the case with losing teams, could always change.
”We all feel responsible,” Gibson said. ”I’m an accountable guy. I still look at it and say we can make history and this can be a special season. It’s eternally how I think. I’ll continue to do that.”