I Think I Have Whiplash

They say that it is easy to get over a blow-out loss but it is much harder to overcome losing a close game. I have no idea who “they” are but “they” obviously were not at Chase Field last night where we witnessed the Oakland Athletics rip the hearts out of the Diamondbacks players and use them for batting practice. It was brutally painful to watch this game unfold. I think the guy running the scoreboard has come down with an acute case of carpal tunnel syndrome from having to keep updating the score of the A’s. I thought it was tough watching as the lowly Kansas City Royals came into town and took two games out of three from the Diamondbacks. But even those were not as tough to watch as this game tonight. In the first inning Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb allowed 2 runs. Yes, the same Brandon Webb who has been masterful for the beginning of the season. He followed that up by giving up another run in the third inning and another in the fourth. The wheels came off in the fourth inning when Webb allowed another 3 runs before being relieved having only recorded 1 out that inning.

I kept checking the scorebook to make sure this was Brandon Webb. I reached over and pinched Tiffany which made her yelp in pain and she smacked me. I guess this isn’t a dream; this is really happening. This is Brandon Webb; he is supposed to be the pitcher on the staff that guarantees we won’t go into a prolong slump. Instead he was throwing balls all over the place. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing him come in and dissect a team like a skilled surgeon. It was surreal watching the Athletics smack him around like he was throwing batting practice. My head was spinning trying to comprehend what we were seeing. No matter where I looked I just could not grasp this alternative reality where Brandon Webb was having a bad game. That is an understatement. This was the worst pitched Brandon Webb game I had ever witnessed. What was worse was that it seemed to be contagious. Every Diamondbacks pitcher that entered the game was shelled. The Athletics scored in every inning but two. Arizona used 5 pitchers in tonight’s game and with the exception of Tony Pena every one of them gave up at least one home run. Before you give too much credit to Pena he did allow a run it just was not a home run. This was like a freaking nightmare.

On a typical team, when your ace is struggling the offense steps it up a notch and tries to give him a little more run support to try and cover up for the mistakes. The Diamondbacks players don’t seem to understand that as the bats again were relatively silent. Arizona hitters were able to accumulate only 5 hits in this game and the only run batted in came from Edgar Gonzalez, a relief pitcher. Do you know how hard that last sentence was to type? A relief pitcher who was in for mop up duty after the starter left after 3.1 innings and 7 runs has your team’s only RBI.

At this point last season the Diamondbacks had a record of 40-30 while the majority of their starting line-up consisted of rookies. This year we were led to believe that after having a year of service under their belts we should expect better production throughout the lineup. Instead here we are exactly 1 year later and the Diamondbacks have a record of 37-34. During the first half of the 2007 season the Diamondbacks struggled offensively. It became so bad that Arizona decided a change was necessary to try and right the ship. They fired hitting coach Kevin Seitzer who they felt was not reaching the young hitters. At the time the Diamondbacks had a .248 batting average having scored 371 runs. The batting average ranked them 15th in the National League and their runs scored ranked them 12th. After tonight’s game the Diamondbacks had a team batting average of .247 which ranked them 14th. They had scored 331 runs which was good enough for them to be ranked 8th. The majority of these runs though were scored during the first month of the season when Arizona started off on such a hot streak. This month they have been outscored 85-49 and have managed 10 hits in only 2 games during that stretch. Compare that to the beginning of the season when through the first 40 games they had 10 or more hits in over half of them. Suddenly it looks like the hitting is really trending downward. I am not proposing that Rick Schu be fired; I think he is doing an admirable job. The problem is that either the players are not listening to Rick or they are not able to take his teaching and apply it in a game situation that provides them with an opportunity to be successful. This needs to seriously get turned around. If the other teams in the National League West ever turn the corner and begin winning the Diamondbacks will quickly find themselves at the bottom of the division looking up wondering what happened to all of the potential they have. No matter whether the team loses 1-0 or 15-1 it is still way too painful to watch for an extended period of time.

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