When a team starts a losing streak, you naturally assume it is going to only last a game or two before the players make adjustments and find a way to scratch out a win. Getting swept in a three game series once or twice a season is about the worst it can get or so you hope.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks losing a series would have been welcomed compared to what they are currently going through. When the D-backs left Chase Field after their series with the Toronto Blue Jays they were riding a 4-1 home stand and things looked to be turning around for the team.
That positive momentum was quickly squelched in Colorado with the Diamondbacks dropping all three games to the Rockies. Still, there was reason to believe the end of the losing was over. The Diamondbacks would fly to San Francisco for a three game series with the Giants whom they had taken two games the week earlier in Arizona.
The Giants took advantage of poor pitching by the Diamondbacks and swept Arizona in three games pushing the losing streak to seven straight games with a three game series remaining with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things had to be different in Los Angeles didn’t they? In the first inning the Diamondbacks scored two runs to take the lead, something they had not done in a very long time against anyone. They added two more runs in the second inning staking themselves to a 4-0 lead.
The Dodgers would come back to score a run in the second and another in the third slicing Arizona’s lead to 4-2. Still that should be enough to win the game. The operative word there was “should”. The Diamondbacks have shown an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and today was no exception.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, a ground ball was hit to second baseman Kelly Johnson in what should have been an easy out to end the Dodgers’ rally. Instead Johnson kicked the ball around then rushed the throw to first base.
The ball went nowhere near first base and the two Los Angeles base runners scored to tie the game. It was a rare 2-error play by Johnson that just seemed natural given the way the Diamondbacks have been playing on this road trip.
After a play like that you were just resigned to believe nothing good would happen the remainder of the game. Even with such thoughts of impending doom no one could have imagined what occurred in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Diamondbacks relief pitcher Esmerling Vasquez entered the game and immediately walked James Loney to put the winning run on base. Third baseman Casey Blake then hit a single to put runners on first and second with no outs.
This is where it starts to get weird. With Russell Martin batting, third baseman Augie Ojeda decides to go talk to Vasquez on the mound. The problem was he didn’t call time-out. Loney seeing no one on third base breaks for the base and gets caught in a rundown between second and third.
It looked as though this was the break the Diamondbacks needed. Maybe this was the end of all the bad luck the team seemed to be facing this road trip.
Blake had taken second base during the rundown of Loney and when Russell Martin grounded out to second base Blake moved to third base. There were two outs and it looked like the Diamondbacks just might get out of this unscathed. That is probably the same thing General Custer thought when he got to Little Big Horn.
Vasquez faced Blake DeWitt and took him to a 2-2 count. One strike and the inning would be over and we would go to extra innings where we would try to find some offense to recover. Vasquez began his motion and suddenly both of his legs flinched during his set.
The umpires immediately signaled a balk and Casey Blake was awarded home giving the Los Angeles Dodgers the win on a Balk-off. Never in all of my years of watching and playing baseball have I ever seen a team lose a game based on a two-error play and a balk. It’s like the Diamondbacks have run out of ways to lose a game and are now just making stuff up.
I cringe even thinking about what tomorrow might bring. How much more bizarre can it get? I’m half expecting they will lose tomorrow on catcher interference during an infield fly rule.