The goal for Thursday's series finale against the Giants at Oracle Park was the same as every game: win. But the D-backs knew the stakes. History was on the line. Lose and stand alone. One last chance.
As the game wore along, reality began to settle in. Try as the D-backs might, there would be no miraculous comeback. There would be no erasing a six-run deficit. No, Arizona could not avoid its date with history.
With a 23rd consecutive loss away from Arizona, a 10-3 defeat, the D-backs have eclipsed the 1943 Philadelphia A’s and 1963 Mets for the most consecutive road losses.
“It’s nothing we’re proud of,” said manager Torey Lovullo. “On this journey when it started in Spring Training, we never set out to put us in a position to have these types of outcomes. It’s been an extended period of time. It weighs on you. It’s heavy.”
Amidst this streak, there has been the feeling that the team is out of sync, an idea that Asdrúbal Cabrera pointed out after Wednesday night’s loss. There have been games with strong offense and poor pitching. There have been games where the inverse was true. Then, of course, there have been games where neither side performed well. That was the case on Thursday afternoon.
Zac Gallen, making his first appearance since May 7, couldn’t play the role of stopper, although it would have been unfair to hold him to that expectation given that he was coming back from an injury. Even if Gallen shoved, he likely wasn’t going to pitch more than four innings thanks to a pitch count.
Unfortunately for Arizona, Gallen did not shove in his limited time. The Giants tagged him for four runs across 2 2/3 innings, capitalizing on mistakes in the middle of the zone. Gallen’s two wild pitches and one hit batter served to reinforce that he was still working his way back.
“I felt physically fine,” Gallen said. “Felt healthy, felt strong. More so than anything, I just wasn’t really sharp.”
The onus of winning, then, fell on the offense. The D-backs have proven themselves capable of putting up crooked numbers, but Giants ace Kevin Gausman held them in check. Until the seventh inning, Gallen had the team’s only hit.
Arizona showed some fight in the seventh inning, scratching across two runs against Gausman, but in a cruel bit of fate, San Francisco got runs right back in the bottom half. One step forward, one step back.
“Obviously, the mood is unhappy,” Gallen said. “Guys are definitely not satisfied with the way we’re playing. I don’t know anybody in their right mind would be.”
So, here the D-backs stand. They now hold the record for the most consecutive road losses in Major League history. By the time they fly to San Diego next week, two months will have passed since they won away from Chase Field. This stretch has been an outlier in every sense of the word.
Injuries haven’t helped. Gallen just made his return after missing a month. Madison Bumgarner, who earned the team's last road win on April 24 when he hurled a seven-inning no-hitter in Atlanta, hasn’t pitched in two weeks. Luke Weaver hasn’t pitched since mid-May. Kole Calhoun hasn’t played since late April. That bit of context is important. Lovullo, however, won’t make excuses.
“Our depth is definitely challenged,” Lovullo said. “But it’s an opportunity for the next layer of guys to take advantage of certain opportunities, and some have, but some we haven’t seen that from.”
At some point, the D-backs will, once again, win on the road. This streak will end. Gallen alluded to this type of skid being an anomaly similar to winning 30 in a row. Eventually, the law of large numbers will have its say.
Until then, the D-backs will return home to Arizona, hoping to rediscover the blueprint to winning baseball.
“I lay in bed at night thinking about different things,” Lovullo said. “Sometimes, I’m up until three, four o’clock in the morning trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together in my own head. It’s tough. It’s very challenging. First thing we need to do is relax, get under control, take care of what we can control, just do our job. And that’s what I’ve been saying to the group.”