Despite taking the recent weekend series from the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks realize their task ahead remains enormous.
Still an outcast among National League West teams and mostly forgotten by the rest of Major League Baseball, the team appears to have some recent life.
The Saturday and Sunday victories over the Dodgers should give the team a renewed sense of confidence and victories, in reality, broke an 0-6 slump against Lost Angeles at home. That includes the two defeats to open the season in Sydney, Australia. Above all, the disastrous result of nearly the first two months of the season has made the climb back to respectability nearly colossal.
Manager Kirk Gibson continues to tell reporters that his band of warriors remain intrepid and undaunted. While the players may believe that, that dialogue may be difficult to convince others. Most of all, Ken Kendrick, the general managing partner and Derrick Hall, the team’s president at CEO, did not buy into this discussion. Instead, both took a rather dramatic step and hired baseball icon Tony La Russa to step in and immediately oversee operation.
Because La Russa will not reveal any cards he may hidden up his sleeve, the forecast from the 33-year veteran of managing in the Major Leagues will be honesty. Both Gibson and Kevin Towers, the D-backs’ general manager, see the guillotine at the ready above their fragile heads.
Now, the marathon which is a major league baseball season continues with stops in St. Louis for three with the Cardinals and Citi Field in New York for three with the Mets. For some unexplained reason, the Diamondbacks appear to play better on the road and enter the trip with a 10-9 mark away from Chase Field and a 6-18 record at home, including the two defeats in Australia.
“I‘m not sure,” said Gibson on trying to find a reason or reasons for better play on the raod. “We have some theories but no real explanation.”
While the road record is above .500, at least at the start of the trip, performance at home has essentially kept the Diamondbacks in their present position. If they are to turn their fortunes in the immediate weeks ahead, the record at Chase needs to improve. After the current trip, they return home to play 21 of their next 29 games in Chase Field. By the time they hit the road again for a substantial trip to San Diego, Pittsburgh and Atlanta leading to the All-Star break, some kind of reading should emerge as to their fate for this season.
ONE MAN’S FORTUNE
When the Dodgers left town Sunday night, no one was probably happier than D-backs’ lefty Wade Miley.
With a 7-0 defeat to Zach Greinke Friday night, Miley is now 0-3 this season against the Dodgers. His four starts against Los Angeles before the Diamondbacks’ first 50 games of the season is the first for a pitcher against the Dodgers since 1914.
A significant reason for Miley’s difficulties with the Dodgers thus far in 2014 is the bat of Scott Van Slyke. Plus lifetime against Miley, Van Slyke is 7-for-16 with four home runs.
The barrage really began in the season opener in Sydney. In the Dodgers’ second inning on March 22, Miley walked Adrian Gonzalez to open the frame. Van Slyke followed with a double to the fence in left field and then followed with a two-run, home run in the fourth. That was the game-winner in an eventually 3-1 victory.
Perhaps the crushing blow came this past Friday night. In lifting a towering 454-foot homer off of Miley, Van Slyke’s blast was the longest in Chase Field this season and estimated by ESPN Stats and Info.
“I have no idea why I have that kind of success against (Miley),” Van Slyke said during the recent Dodgers’ series in Chase Field. “I know certain hitters have more success against certain pitches but I have no theories. With (Miley), I think I pick up the ball better and see his arm movement better. With that, I’m able to get a better sense of timing.”
After Van Slyke reached Miley for a double and home run on opening night, Miley told reporters, “I have a history with him now.”
For his part, Miley will likely two or three more starts against the Dodgers this season. While the majority of games with the Dodgers this season are history, the Diamondbacks have six left in Dodger Stadium and two (Aug. 26 and 27) in Chase Field.
D-backs’ centerfield A. J. Pollock was named as the National League co-player-of-the -week, May 12-18. Pollock shared the weekly award with the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig.
In six games, Pollock led the National League in batting average with a .500 average (11-22). He also led the league with a .909 slugging percentage and tied for league lead with 20 total bases.
On Sunday, Pollock delivered his third multi-hit game of the week. That was a 3-for-4 day and helped the D-backs take the rubber game of the recent weekend series over the Dodgers.