PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks had a special clubhouse visitor Tuesday afternoon, a math whiz who during his presentation demonstrated the ability to divide a three-digit number by a two-digit number and carry the answer out to seven decimal places, beating a calculator to the answer. Call him a mathlete.
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His lesson was a lot simpler than the problems he solved.
“His message was, everything starts from zero,” D-backs reliever J.J. Putz said.
“When times are tough and you are struggling, go back to zero. Focus in on zero. Find that little tunnel and start from there. It was pretty impressive.”
The relaxed D-backs are 2-0 since.
On Wednesday, they carried the won. Martin Prado continued his second-half surge with four hits, four RBIs and the game-winning hit, a two-run single in the last of the eighth inning, to give the Diamondbacks a 9-8 comeback victory over the Rays at Chase Field.
Prado is his own numbers machine these days — 26 hits in his last 67 at-bats, with eight doubles, two home runs and 14 RBIs. He has 10 homers and 48 RBIs on the season, and he has raised his batting average to .274, the highest it has been since April 16.
His run started well before Scott Flansburg, the savant with the dry-erase board, showed up with manager Kirk Gibson’s blessing Tuesday afternoon, but Prado said the demonstration struck a chord.
“That blew my mind, and all my teammates’,” Prado said.
“He said no matter what you have done in the past, you always have to start from zero. That was huge for us. I went home and tried to do math. I couldn’t do it. I wrecked myself. So I had to check myself today. He made it fun. Sometimes you have to remember to make it fun.”
Gibson has done it before. A week after he replaced A.J. Hinch as manager in 2010, he invited Flansburg to the clubhouse to help liberate the D-backs’ thinking. They scored 10 runs to beat the Marlins that night.
“I’ve never seen that kind of therapy on a baseball club, but it worked. Whatever it takes,” starter and winner Rodrigo Lopez said that night.
The D-backs (58-55) are in a similar mode now. Whatever it takes to catch the Dodgers (five games up in the NL West) and/or the Reds (4 1/2 games up for the final wild-card spot) is what they will do.
They reprised a familiar role Wednesday with their 31st comeback victory, their 22nd victory in their last at-bat and their major league-high 23rd one-run victory. They trailed 3-0 six batters into the game but maintained, and they lost a three-run lead in the seventh inning but recovered.
A franchise-record six double plays, five on infield grounders, played into the equation. One started by Didi Gregroius is available on a highlight reel near you.
“We’re swinging the bats good. We had great defensive plays. That’s who we are,” Gibson said.
Added Prado, “Sometimes you have a tough patch, and we’ve had a couple this year, But one thing we can be consistent with is going all the way through, 27 outs.
“This team, every single guy is ready to go up there in a big situation and perform for the team. We knew we were going to play good teams. Tampa is one of them. This is one of those wins that tells you we can finish strong. That’s what we’re looking for — to finish strong as a team. Battle and never die.”
Gibson, who likes to mix and match, used the same lineup for the second straight day, and he got the same result in a highly different fashion after Wade Miley won 6-1 on Tuesday. The D-backs could be onto something. Things, of course, will change, probably as early as Friday’s series opener against the Mets.
But once again, the same group played a large part.
Leadoff hitter Adam Eaton had two singles and a walk and scored twice.
Prado, who hit second and played left field, tied his career high with four hits and reached base five timesthanks to a walk in the first inning.
No. 3 hitter Paul Goldschmidt singled in his 90th run of the season, extending his NL RBI lead.
Cleanup hitter Eric Chavez had two more hits, drove in one and scored twice.
No. 5 hitter Aaron Hill had two doubles and two RBIs.
That, too, is the kind of math that can go a long way.