After a brief three game winning streak that brought the volume down from D-Backs fans for someone to be fired, the team returned to its early season form, as the bullpen blew a solid outing from Bronson Arroyo and lost to the Phillies 6-5 on Saturday night. The loss was particularly disappointing considering the offense had knocked Cliff Lee around for five runs in the first three innings before he settled down and the Phillies started whittling into the lead. The big inning came when Trevor Cahill took the mound in the 8th, and six of the nine hitters reached, with five coming in to score. The D-backs had an opportunity to get a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the 9th, but following a passed ball, Martin Prado broke for second, and was ruled out at second base after an awkward slide where he was tagged out by Jimmy Rollins. He was originally called safe, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg challenged the play, and the replay showed he’d slipped off the bag while Rollins had the glove on him.
Despite the bad loss, or, at least for this season, the usual kind of loss, during the mini win streak and today’s game, there have been some encouraging signs from the D-Backs. A.J. Pollock delivered an insurance home run in the 8th inning in the game on Friday night, and followed it up with a 3 for 5 day today, with a single, double and a triple. He really seems to be seeing the ball well in the last couple of games. Bronson Arroyo pitched what was easily his best game of the season, and significantly improved upon the 9.00+ ERA he entered the game with. Cody Ross looks to be getting his 0 for 18 start behind him, with a couple of hits and three RBI’s. Aaron Hill has shown some signs of life, getting a couple more hits today. Miguel Montero is hitting better. Chris Owens continues to play well. And of course, National League hits leader Paul Goldschmidt has done his thing all season long.
However, the bullpen continues to be an abomination, with Trevor Cahill being the author of the current rendition . He’d come off of three decent appearances heading into the game today, but he simply isn’t the pitcher he was in 2010, when he won 18 games. In fact, he’s never been that pitcher as a Diamondback, and honestly, he doesn’t look like he even belongs on the roster anymore. After the game, Manager Kirk Gibson basically dismissed the outing as, “just one game,” but the stats absolutely paint a different picture. Furthermore, the defense is sketchy at best. As a team, only the Washington Nationals have committed more errors. In Saturday’s game, Martin Prado not only had a bad error, but made a bad base-running decision, this coming along with the recurring inability to get anything going at the plate so far this season.
At this point in the season, at 8-19, the Diamondbacks need to play 11 games over .500 just to get back to even by the end of the season. But with starters so far only being able to get five or six innings before turning the ball over to a lousy bullpen, combined with lousy fielding and not being able to come up with many timely hits, that shipped seems to have sailed. Best case scenario, they play .500 ball the rest of the way from here. There will be brief stretches of good play. But Diamondbacks fans should get used to what they saw today. It will be an all too frequently repeated performance with this roster. Something significant needs to be done now before a 90 loss season becomes an inevitability.