PHOENIX – The good, the bad and the ugly. That’s a composite of the opening homestand of the 2022 season. Through this first week of play, there are things to be encouraged and also a direct link back to the drawing board.
After their initial six games, that’s the popular assessment of the Arizona Diamondbacks. While there retains a certain degree of uncertainty, the prevailing belief in the clubhouse and with manager Torey Lovullo is the team is presently traversing through an aberration. The .130 team batting average, coming into Wednesday’s eventually 3-2 win over Houston in 10 innings, will disappear like a bad dream. Big innings will come, listeners are assured, and runs will cascade like a steady summer rain shower.
Following the second walk-off win to equal as many victories thus far, the consensus held fortunes are about to change.
“Guys are starting off a little slow,” said designated hitter Cooper Hummel, who reached base five of his six plate appearances Wednesday. “It’s not a big deal, at this point. Look, it’s a long season, and we’re only six games in. You look at the numbers every time, and things will get better. Our hitters are doing the right thing and they are getting on base. You would like to see more timely hits, but it is what it is. We’ll get those timely hits, eventually.”
In the get-away win Wednesday, the Diamondbacks clearly manufactured base runners but not runs. Despite leaving 16 runners stranded, what was achieved under a bright Arizona sun remained satisfying. Within that growing sense of optimism, there is a strong belief the journey ahead is brighter.
“We’re starting to deliver body blows and getting runners on base,” said Lovullo after the game. “The next step is to deliver the knock blow. That’s coming. It will happen at some point.”
In reality, that sense of accomplishment does not appear to be a blimp on the Diamondbacks radar screen. Off the recently concluded homestand, the Diamondbacks are swinging the bats at a less-than-productive .140 team batting average. That’s last in the National League, but not of great concern.
Coming into the season, the principal forces of pitching and hitting occupied a reverse role. Most pundits held the Diamondbacks pitching would be a ticket for the National League basement. Hitting, many believed, would carry this team.
Through the opening week of the season, the opposite held true. For their initial six games, the pitching staff has a combined 2.95 ERA and that’s eighth-best in the majors and fifth in the National League.
On Wednesday, the only two runs allowed by Arizona pitching were a pair of sacrifice flies. The first came off the bat of catcher Martin Maldonado (his first RBI of the season) in the seventh and a sac fly from Alex Bregman with the bases loaded in the 10th inning.
If the Astros generated production by way of the fly ball, Ketel Marte ended the game in a similar manner. An RBI single from Seth Beer in the 10th tied this one and Marte’s sacrifice fly to left allowed Beer to cross the plate with the winning run.
“This was a good win and we will enjoy this one,” Lovullo added. “For a young team, this feels really nice right now. In this one, I probably had about 45 mood changes, high, low, and everywhere in between. We need to think small and then big things happen. And, we’ll get there.”
The journey continues … The Diamondbacks now embark on a seven-game road trip. This begins Friday in New York against the Mets and features three-day games. Last season, the Diamondbacks dropped five of six games against the Mets and have lost 10 straight in Citi Field. … Former Met Zack Davies gets the start for Arizona. Right-hander Chris Bassett will start for New York. For Saturday, look for Zac Gallen to get this first start of the season and draw righty Carlos Carrasco. Starters for the series finale on Sunday are to be announced Then, it’s off to Washington for four against the Nationals before returning to Chase April 22 and the start of a six-game homestand. This features three each against the Mets and Dodgers.