D-backs plan to leave frustration on the road
There was a lot of frustration in the D-backs’ clubhouse after Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Mets left them winless on their six-game road trip, but it's something they hoped to leave behind in the Big Apple.
The unhappiness was summed up in the seventh inning when things boiled over and Eduardo Escobar and manager Torey Lovullo were ejected by home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez after Escobar was unhappy with a called strike.
"It bubbled over with Eduardo," Lovullo said. "I felt like it was my job to go out there and let them know I was equally frustrated."
Lovullo has talked a lot this year about the D-backs having a bend-don't-break mentality, but this road trip, which also included three games in Miami, has put that to the test. It's their first winless road trip of at least six games since they went 0-9 on a trip in 2010.
"Obviously, we’re frustrated," veteran catcher Stephen Vogt said. "Obviously, losing six games on a road trip where you don’t come away with any wins, it’s really frustrating. We didn’t pitch like we know we can. We didn’t play defense like we know we can. We didn’t hit like we know we can. We still believe in ourselves. The mood in the room is frustrated. It’s not down. I think that’s the big win for us. We know we need to get better. We know what we need to work on and we know where we need to focus up a little bit more."
Hitting with runners in scoring position, or the lack thereof, has been a constant throughout this trip.
Against the Marlins, the D-backs were 2-28 with runners in scoring position and they were 4-for-32 in those situations in New York.
For Lovullo, though, their struggles are about more than just coming through in the clutch.
"I’ve talked a lot about the little things here," Lovullo said. "Little things matter to me and they matter to this organization. It’s one of the values that I instill inside of this organization on a daily basis. We’re not doing a lot of little things right, right now. That’s probably the area I am most frustrated by. That’s on me. I’ve got to deliver these messages. I’ve got to talk to the coaches. I’ve got to get the coaches to talk to the players. I’ve got to deliver those messages to the players myself."
Asked for some examples of what he was talking about, it sounded like Lovullo was talking about a club that is pressing to get out of a slump.
"Playing fast," Lovullo said of what he wants from his team. "Being in the right place with your pre-pitch setup. Not being afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes I think we’re going forward with our emergency brake on. That’s unacceptable to me."
Said Vogt, "We’re just pressing. When things aren’t going well and it’s not rolling, you want to step up. I think that’s natural for us as athletes. It’s natural for us as baseball players. When we’re not playing up to our capabilities, you want to do more. You want to pick the boys up. You want to be the guy who comes through for everybody. For us, it’s frustrating and it’s maybe trying not to make a mistake at times instead of just letting it fly and being free."
The D-backs don't have a lot of time to figure things out. They were scheduled to arrive back in Phoenix late Sunday night, and they open a four-game series with the Marlins on Monday at Chase Field.
It will be their seventh game in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Rather than needing a day off, getting back on the field may turn out to be the elixir.
"I think right now all of us are pretty happy we have a game tomorrow," Vogt said. "I think all of us are excited to get back out there. We know the momentum can shift at any moment. For us, it’s drawing a line in the sand. We’re going to leave this mood and this feeling on the East Coast."