The Arizona Diamondbacks quite literally limped into the All-Star break having lost 7 of their final 8 games before the mid-summer classic. It looked as though youth and inexperience was taking its toll on the team and many baseball insiders began to write off the team and suggested that they begin looking at 2008. When games resumed for the second half of the season their assessment seemed sound as the Diamondbacks lost 5 of their first 8 games. But that seemed to change in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field on July 21. With a solid pitching performance by Juan Cruz, Tony Pena, and Jose Valverde the Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs. This one game seemed fairly ordinary but it was a jumping off point for Arizona’s young team.
The Diamondbacks went on to beat the Cubs the next day then returned home to Chase Field where they have rolled off six straight wins including a sweep of the Florida Marlins and the first two games against the National League East powerhouse Atlanta Braves. It is amazing how different the press and baseball insiders are after an eight game winning streak. Now people are coming out of the woodwork to leap onto this bandwagon as the Diamondbacks lead their fans to the Promised Land. Everyone is now looking forward to the trade deadline and offering suggestions of what one piece will put the Diamondbacks into the World Series. I appreciate the enthusiasm but I think Bob Melvin said it best when he cautioned everyone that the season is not over and there is still a lot of baseball to be played. And for those fans who think it is all downhill from here they had to look no further than today’s box score. After looking unbeatable for the past week the Diamondbacks faced Atlanta ace Tim Hudson and literally fell apart losing the game 0-14. Had we not just witnessed the Diamondbacks win 8 in a row, there would have been fans on the ledge ready to jump blaming everyone from the ownership group to the guy who sweeps the concourse for the poor play that was witnessed. It’s just one of those things that comes from having a very young ball club. Confidence is a fragile thing and disappears more quickly than it arrives. The veteran leadership in the clubhouse will be called upon for the next two months to try and remind the younger players that a season is not defined by a single game or even by eight games in a row. There will be days when they feel invincible and there are days they will wonder if they have ever played this game before. They’ll need to be strong and they will need to be brave, just don’t be the team that faced the Braves today.