MIAMI -- With each loss it gets harder and harder to make a case that the D-backs should be buyers rather than sellers at the Trade Deadline next week.
The latest defeat was especially painful as it came against the Marlins, owners of the worst record in the National League, and it happened after Arizona seemingly had the game in hand.
Five batters later, the lead was gone and the Marlins were celebrating their 3-2 win on the field while the D-backs walked off stunned, their record back to .500 at 52-52.
“I made some bad pitches in the strike zone which I know better than [to do],” Holland said. “I hate it. Losing sucks and coughing a game up in the ninth inning makes things worse.”
It was the second straight rough outing for Holland, who lasted just two batters during Wednesday afternoon's game against Baltimore before manager Torey Lovullo pulled him. In that appearance, the veteran’s velocity was down and Lovullo didn’t feel the ball was coming out of his hand well. So after Holland walked the first two batters he faced, the manager decided that was enough.
Friday, Lovullo gave Holland more wiggle room, believing that a closer deserves the chance to do his job, unless it’s a case like Wednesday where there appears to be something wrong.
“The other day was a little bit different because he wasn’t around the plate with any of his pitches,” Lovullo said. “I thought his stuff was a little bit sharper, a little bit better today.”
It was too soon after the defeat for Lovullo to say whether Holland would retain his closer’s role, as Lovullo said he wanted a chance to talk things over with his coaching staff before making any decisions.
Holland said he was at a loss for what has gone wrong of late.
“I got to be better than that,” Holland said. “I threw off the mound earlier today, felt great. Felt good in warmups. But whatever it takes, you just can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win a game. We’ve played too hard to be coughing up games in the ninth inning.”
Friday night's game against the Marlins was the beginning of a four-game series, part of a six-game road trip for the D-backs which includes a brief two-game set against the Yankees right before the Trade Deadline.
With a three-game series against the Orioles at home earlier this week and this matchup with the Marlins, Arizona hoped to be able to take advantage of a pair of last-place teams to boost its standing in the National League Wild Card race.
Instead, the D-backs took two of three from the Orioles and dropped the first one against the Marlins, making them what they’ve been for much of the season: a .500 team.
While not that far behind the current NL Wild Card leaders -- they trail the Nationals and Cubs by 3 1/2 games -- Arizona would also need to pass the Giants, Brewers and Phillies.
On top of that, the D-backs have had trouble stringing together wins, maxing out at five for their longest win streak so far this season.
Greinke was asked if he felt like the team was running out of time to show management that they shouldn’t be sellers.
“The team is playing pretty good,” he said. “We’ve got some good depth, some pitchers coming back and we’ve got a lot of good players, so I think we’ll be all right.”
They may be indeed be all right, but at this rate, come Aug. 1 they may not be the same group.