As if an Arizona Diamondbacks road trip where the team went 2-4 with just a single win in Boston and one in Tampa was not bad enough, somehow my psyche decided that I needed to suffer some additional subconscious torture. I had watched the final game in the Red Sox series where Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy took a shutout loss in his first trip back to the mound since returning from the disabled list.
McCarthy didn’t look terribly bad; there were bright spots in his pitching performance. He gave up two runs but then after turning over the game to Josh Collmenter, Boston scored twice more and kept the Diamondbacks offense off the scoreboard for the shutout.
I sat relatively stunned after the game staring at the television wondering what had gone wrong. Not just what went wrong this game but what happened to this season? Through the all-star game the Diamondbacks held onto first place. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty but they were in first. At each sign of adversity we heard a player or coach say “it’s a long season”, “we’re taking one game at a time”, or my personal favorite “there’s still a lot of baseball to be played and this team has not yet played to their potential”.
These clichés flowed off the tongue like a well-oiled machine. It was the kind of sound bite you would expect but one that did not have a lot of real information. The season is slowly dwindling away. Each game is one less game to make up ground on the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers.
Looking over the rest of August the mountain was getting much steeper and the sun is starting to reach the horizon of the season. It’s not over by any means but you can see the end from here and it’s not exactly the beautiful sunset that everyone had envisioned.
After an off-day on Monday the Diamondbacks jump back into the fire playing five of the next eight games against the American League East with a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays and three games against the Baltimore Orioles with a three-game series against the New York Mets in between.
The good news is those eight games are at home but that is followed by a brutal road trip where the Diamondbacks play three against the Pittsburgh Pirates who have the best record in Major League Baseball followed by four games against the Cincinnati Reds who are battling for a wild-card spot then ending with a three game series in Philadelphia playing a Phillies team who are much better than their record would suggest.
The month ends with three games at home against San Diego who now have former Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy then a three game set against the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.
Given the inconsistency of the Arizona Diamondbacks it is difficult seeing this team go on an extended winning streak to overcome the hole they have dug. Despite reconstructing the roster getting rid of several long-standing veterans such as Chris Young, Justin Upton, and Stephen Drew; Arizona finds itself in the exact same position as they were in last year, just a game over .500.
Sure injuries have taken their toll on the roster especially on the pitching staff but the Diamondbacks also find themselves with nearly a whole roster of underperforming players who have struggled offensively all season.
So while I am exhibiting the eternal optimism of a Chicago Cubs fan praying for a late surge by the Arizona Diamondbacks coupled with an epic collapse of the Los Angeles Dodgers I can’t help but feel a little déjà vu like we are in for the same disappointing 81-81 season as last year and if that happens, what then? Will we see another set of wholesale changes where the roster is churned once again or will it be a coaching carousel with the current set of coaches replaced with a new point of view?
While this has been a little frustrating for everyone involved, this has been a great season filled with a lot of great memories and we still have 51 games remaining. And think about how amazing it would be if this team does takeoff and make a serious run at a playoff birth. It would never taste sweeter than a come from behind win.