Without stars, D-backs’ offense has gone dark
PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks are still trying to work through the loss of top offensive threats Chris Young and Justin Upton.
It is not easy in itself, and Atlanta’s young pitching is not helping.
Right-hander Brandon Beachy was as unhittable in a 9-1 victory Friday as left-hander Mike Minor was in a 10-2 victory the night before, and the D-backs are now in the midst of their longest losing streak – four games – since a six-game slide last August. Atlanta was involved in that one, too.
Since Young was forced out of Tuesday’s game with a shoulder injury in the top of the fourth inning, the D-backs have five runs and 20 hits in 33 innings.
The D-backs do not appear to be pressing, but the loss of the player who was carrying them (Young) and the player who can (Upton) has not been easy.
“The losses are grinding,” said second baseman Aaron Hill, who singled and scored in the ninth inning to break up Atlanta’s shutout.
“These guys in here know that you can’t put that pressure on each individual to pick up the loss of your stars. You try to, obviously — it’s human nature — but you can’t get down on yourself. The last four games have been a bummer. You hate when you run into streaks like that. At the same time, you have to do what you have to do to get through the day.
“We’re a good enough team, even without our two stars, to put together some wins. We just have to find a way to do it. Everybody in this room is capable of something big.”
The D-backs have not had an extra-base hit since Hill tripled off the overhang in left-center field leading off the sixth inning of a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Hill was left at third, and the D-backs are 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position since the middle of the game Tuesday.
Paul Goldschmidt provided most of the offense Friday, singling on a 92 mph fastball and an 80 mph changeup in his first two at-bats before drawing a four-pitch walk in his third. He drove in the D-backs’ lone run with a fielder’s choice with runners on first and third in the ninth.
“It’s tough with those guys being down for a couple of days, but you don’t really have another choice,” Goldschmidt said. “You go out there like we did last year and like we’ll do this year, we’ll play as a team. I wouldn’t say anyone is really pressing. It will turn around.
“Obviously it’s been a rough few days, but it’s baseball — that happens. We’re not going to give up. We’ll keep pressing forward. That’s the good and bad thing about this game: It can go from very good to very bad or vice versa. It can change any time.”
While the D-backs are looking for offense, the Braves apparently know where to find it. Freddie Freeman had two doubles and two RBIs, giving him five extra-base hits for the series. And when Trevor Cahill pitched around him and walked him on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth, Brian McCann followed with a two-run homer on a get-me-over fastball that gave the Braves a 3-0 lead. Atlanta added four more runs in the sixth.
“It’s really challenging,” Cahill said of the Braves’ lineup. “A lot of it is kind of in our head, too. Like I was thinking I have to make quality pitches and I’d leave the ball over the plate instead of just relaxing and attacking them. They have a good lineup and they are all firing on all cylinders, so it is tough.”
The D-backs have Joe Saunders and Ian Kennedy starting the final two games of the series in their bid for a split. Atlanta has won nine of its last 10.
“They come at us at a tough time right now, but we’ve been through it before. Things aren’t going our way,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
“They’re playing well. We’re not playing so well. But we will be.”
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