Dbacks Are Tiring, But Keep Grinding
The Long Season Is Showing On The Young Squad, But The Giants Are Not Faring Much Better
By Bob Goodwood
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Aug. 10, 2011 — When the Arizona Diamondbacks left San Francisco last week after winning the series from the National League West leading Giants, everything seemed to be setting up perfectly for the upstarts from the desert.
The Snakes had a 10-game homestand coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and New York Mets. Meanwhile, the Giants had home series against the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates before hitting the road to face the Florida Marlins.
The Phillies took three of four from the Giants, but the Dbacks dropped two of three to the Dodgers. Since concluding their three-game series, the Giants have gone 2-4. The Dbacks have gone 2-3.
In midst of a neck-and-neck battle for the division title, the two teams are showing the signs of two teams that are sucking wind right now. The atmosphere was so great in that series, both teams were headed for an unavoidable letdown. Make no mistake, those games were brutal on the players on both teams heading into the final 50 games of the season.
The two teams battled in what felt like a playoff series, then went back to playing normal teams. The result? Both teams came out flat and have stayed there.
Both Bruce Bochy and Kirk Gibson manage as if each game is the most important game of the season. They know that without such an attitude, games can get away from a team. To win a division in major league baseball, there is no other path to success than 162 games of scrapping, fighting and grinding.
But usually, all teams will face a game, or two, or 10 where they just can’t get it together. Sometimes its mental, other times it is physical. Sometimes it is luck, other times it is bad luck.
There are new players from the trade deadline to work in and not yet time for the young blood to fill the clubhouse and raise the energy in September.
It is August in the major leagues.
Ian Kennedy has talked about the wall he hit last season, saying that when he broke through it, he realized he was just catching his second wind. Last year Kennedy threw 194 innings, the most in his career. He is at 163 right now.
Daniel Hudson, who got rocked Monday night against the Astros, threw a combined 180 innings last season, although only 95 of them in the major leagues. This year, he is at 157 innings — all at the big league level. He is being tested by the length of a big league season.
After Hudson’s rough outing, the Dbacks then came back out the next night and fell into an 7-1 hole before rallying back late and showing the toughness and will to win that has become a hallmark of the 2011 squad.
Upton, who is 19 games short of a career record himself and was in a mini-slump, drove in four and willed his team back from the six-run deficit.
Yea, I said it, HIS team.
This guy is showing that patience pays dividends. He may have frustrated fans and the front office in the past, but he is proving he is one of the best players in the game. And, although this is his fourth year in the league, he is only 23-years-old.
Regardless of the recent struggles of both the Giants and the Dbacks, these teams will grab their collective stuff together soon enough. A waiver deal might bring some new blood, but as the additions of Jason Marquis and Brad Ziegler have shown, late season deals don’t always work out for the best.
Odds are that the National League West goes down to the wire and the first team that doesn’t completely run out of gas, wins.
Bob Goodwood is a freelance writer currently living in Scottsdale, Ariz.