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D-backs can't get past Angels' early damage

@SteveGilbertMLB
September 17, 2020

There will be plenty of time for reflection and postmortems on the D-backs’ season, and manager Torey Lovullo, who has had plenty of sleepless nights over the past two months, will certainly do his fair share of self-evaluation. But first, Lovullo wants his team to get as many wins as

There will be plenty of time for reflection and postmortems on the D-backs’ season, and manager Torey Lovullo, who has had plenty of sleepless nights over the past two months, will certainly do his fair share of self-evaluation.

But first, Lovullo wants his team to get as many wins as possible over the final nine games of the season. The next win will need to wait past Thursday, as the D-backs missed a chance at a sweep with a 7-3 loss to the Angels that required 16 outs from the bullpen due to starter Alex Young's rough outing.

Box score

“Obviously, we’ve got to just keep grinding, keep pounding,” Lovullo said. “I don't want to say that we only have a certain amount of games left; we’ve got to just take care of tomorrow, and that's all we’re focusing on.”

The 2020 season has been like nothing anyone has seen before. Unlike the usual 162-game marathon, it was set up as a 60-game sprint. Slumps or losing streaks that may have gotten overlooked in a normal season have been magnified.

“Look, I think we’re all going to take something from this season, whether it’s 60 games or 162 games,” Lovullo said. “It’s what we do. It’s what I’m going to do. I’ve got to do better in certain areas, and I’m certainly going to evaluate exactly what those are. I don’t have those answers right now.”

Hitters have talked throughout the year about the fact that rather than a lack of effort, the offensive struggles may have been the result of putting too much pressure on themselves once they struggled early in the season.

D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed was asked after Wednesday’s 9-6 win if the team put too much pressure on itself to get off to a good start because of the shortened season.

“I don’t know,” Ahmed said. “We expected to go out and win every game and do what we could. That’s kind of a tough question to answer.”

Should there have been an emphasis on a quick start? That’s something that Lovullo has wondered about.

“If I could redo it and go over it again, I probably wouldn’t even mention getting off to a hot start,” Lovullo said. “Just going out and competing and playing the best brand of Arizona Diamondback baseball possible would be my goal. If I internally said something along those lines -- I know I said something along those lines -- I would definitely readjust it to say just go out and be yourselves.

“Look, this is a tough game. There is a lot of pressure these players feel to go out and perform at a very high level. If I’m adding in an extra ingredient, that one’s on me. I would definitely change my tune.”

Whether a fast start was emphasized or not doesn’t explain all the struggles and isn’t an excuse for what has turned into a disappointing season.

“Ultimately, it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Louvllo said. “The entire group needs to take responsibility for what’s happened here. It’s not one player’s fault, not one coach’s fault. It’s a group that needs to learn from this and keep moving forward.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.