The D-backs get their first off-day of the season Monday and boy, do they need it.
Arizona’s offense struggled once again Sunday as the Dodgers took three of four in the series, this one by a 3-0 margin at Chase Field to drop the D-backs to 3-7 on the year.
“These are grinding times right now,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And these are tests. These are tests for our team and our players. We’re going to keep fighting. That’s all we know how to do. We’re going to grind through these tough times. We know that better days lie ahead. To get there, we’ve got to accomplish some things piece by piece and day by day. We’ve got to keep working.”
The schedule gets no easier for the D-backs, who have the Astros coming to town for three games starting Tuesday before heading back out on the road for a six-game trip to San Diego and Denver.
Here are some things that the D-backs need to get a handle on if they want to avoid falling too far behind:
For Ray, the struggles are perplexing because he was, by all accounts, the most impressive pitcher during the team’s Summer Camp.
Ray reworked his mechanics a bit this offseason, shortening his arm stroke in an attempt to improve on his command. While he feels comfortable with those mechanics, he’s still fine-tuning it and has found himself getting a little quick to the plate.
Weaver, meanwhile, has pitched well early in his starts before hitting a road block in the fourth innings.
“I feel in control,” Weaver said. “I felt like my dominant self. And then it just kind of starts to build and spiral.”
2) Rediscover their offensive mojo
The offense has struggled for much of the year, with Sunday’s shutout just one example.
What is especially puzzling is the lack of power. The D-backs have hit just two home runs in their 10 games this year. The only teams close to them in that category are the Marlins and Brewers, who have hit five each.
The difference is the Marlins have only played three games and the Brewers have played six.
“I feel like, for what this team has or is capable of, it’s going to be a matter of one game or one time through a lineup where we understand how we fit together or how we pass the baton to the next guy,” first baseman Christian Walker said. “I do believe that when this thing clicks, it’s going to be something that’s very special.”
3) Find a way to not press
One of the reasons that Walker said it will take one good game, or time through the lineup to have the offense snap out of things is because when a team starts to struggle, they start to put too much pressure on themselves and the problem is magnified.
A big hit or inning can sometimes relieve that pressure, relax guys and allow them to play better.
“Everybody is trying to take the swing that’s the three-run homer or want to put the team in the lead or spark something,” Walker said.
A tough 10-game stretch during a 162-game season is one thing, but when it happens in a season that is comprised of just 60 games, well the pressure mounts in a hurry.
“I think the pressing part could be a big part it,” Sunday’s starter Merrill Kelly said. “I think coming into the year, there was a lot of talk about [how] it’s a 60-game sprint, it’s a 60-game sprint and you can’t afford to get off on the wrong foot. And I think that probably played a part early, but I think we just need to get back to playing our brand of baseball and we’ll be OK.”