Houston We Have a Problem

Given the way the Arizona Diamondbacks have played during the 2009 season I don’t think anyone was looking forward to this current road trip.  After a tough series with the National Western Division leading Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field the Diamondbacks had to travel cross-country for a single game with the surging Atlanta Braves.

The game with the Braves was a make-up game necessary due to the rain out of May 17.  At the time the Diamondbacks were playing well and had momentum going their way. Things have definitely changed and the team is resigned to the fact that they have no chance at the post season and are playing for pride or perhaps for their jobs.

After getting beat by the Dodgers in the last game of the home stand the Diamondbacks played with very little enthusiasm and as a result were beaten soundly by the Braves.  At the conclusion of the game the team boarded a plane to Philadelphia for a three-game series against the World Champions.

The series with the Phillies did not go well for the visiting Diamondbacks.  They were outscored 25-5 in the three games, which saw Arizona’s losing streak reach five.  Mercifully the series only lasted three games.  The Diamondbacks limped out of town and headed to Houston for a weekend series.

The Astros had been struggling themselves making this series a toss up, or so the Diamondbacks thought.  Instead the Astros squeaked out a 1-0 victory behind their staff ace Roy Oswalt.  During their last home stand the Diamondbacks had averaged five runs per game. During this road trip they had scored five runs in the last four games.

What is even more disconcerting is the fact that over the past three games the Diamondbacks have not gotten one walk.  The hitters are obviously pressing and becoming too aggressive helping the opposing pitcher by swinging at balls out of the strike zone.

With tonight’s loss the Diamondbacks have now dropped the last seven games.  All of the momentum and positive points they had gained over the last month have been eliminated leaving coaches and fans scratching their heads as to what the future of this team may hold.

The past year and a half have shown the offense is still too inconsistent to put together an extended winning streak which is necessary if this team is going to compete.  I’m not sure I can pinpoint where the problem is.

For one the defense is still too porous allowing the opposition too many extra outs extending an inning.  Secondly this team still relies too much on the long ball to score.  There is a lot of team speed that seems to be lost.  The players seem too timid on the base paths not wanting to take the risk of being thrown out.  Stealing bases is two-thirds mental and until these players can get over the fear of being thrown out they will not be successful.

About all we can do is observe as AJ Hinch and Josh Byrnes evaluate the young players they are now bringing up to see if they can find a combination that they can build upon not just for the rest of 2009 but for 2010 and beyond.

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