Ugly homestand sets up huge trip for D-backs
PHOENIX -- Before the Diamondbacks were swept for the second straight series Wednesday, manager Kirk Gibson insisted his team has been playing do-or-die baseball for a while now.
It could be argued the D-backs haven't yet played any true do-or-die games or series, but there's no arguing the dire nature of the coming road trip through Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
"We understand the importance of this road trip," D-backs center fielder Chris Young said. "(Our season) could slip away fast if we don’t start playing better right now, starting tomorrow in L.A."
In the truest sense of the phrase, this trip could make or break for the D-backs. Wednesday's 6-2 loss left them nine games back of the first place Giants in the NL West, six behind the Dodgers in and eight out of the NL's second Wild Card spot.
Many have already written the D-backs off this season, and it's understandable why they would do so. The D-backs have hovered around .500 all season, never made a prolonged push and failed to score runs consistently. Their supposed ace, Ian Kennedy, has 11 wins and 4.44 ERA and their No. 2, Daniel Hudson, is out for the year with an elbow injury. Their preseason MVP contender Justin Upton hasn't produced anywhere near expectations.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest the D-backs will miss the postseason, but they won't concede the point until the numbers make it official.
"We've put ourselves a little further behind than we'd like to be, but it's not over," Young said. "If people want us to give up, that's not going to happen."
The D-backs keep pointing to their remaining head-to-head games with the Dodgers and Giants. They play the Dodgers six more times and the Giants nine. Enough of a swing in those games could have the D-backs back in the hunt, but it will take more than a few.
"Winning a series, I don't know if that's good enough now," Young said. "We'll have to sweep a couple and play a lot better baseball to put ourselves back in contention."
A swing the other way could have them out of contention completely. Any kind of split probably wouldn't cut it, as the D-backs would make up no significant ground.
Sweeping the likes of the Dodgers and Giants presents a tall task considering he D-backs have had trouble even winning series lately. Since sweeping the Dodgers July 30-Aug. 1, the D-backs have dropped five series, split two and won one -- against Houston, the worst team in baseball.
The latest sweep came at the hands of baseball's best team. D-backs rookie left hander Patrick Corbin had the Reds baffled through six innings but unraveled quickly in the seventh, allowing three runs on a double and two home runs.
Gibson was pleased with Corbin's performance, but a good start and a loss means nothing in the standings.
"We're not here for moral victories," Gibson said. "It's very disappointing, it's frustrating. We had a terrible homestand. We scored 13 runs in our last six games, the games we lost. So not a lot is going right. It's not a good feeling."
"Terrible" amounted to 2-8 and getting outscored 53-28 by opponents over the 10-game stretch. The D-backs have now lost a season-high six straight home games and are 4-13 in their last 17 at Chase Field.
"We should play better at home," Young said. "That's not acceptable."
The futility at home and slow creep backward in the standings has led the D-backs to the road trip that could have their fate determined by the time they return to Phoenix roughly two weeks from now.
"Everybody's searching," Gibson said. "The more you search, the tougher it gets sometimes.
"We need to stop the (losing) streak right now. We need to get that feeling back."