Red-hot D-backs passing a 'challenging test'

Winners in 7 of past 8, Arizona keeps playing well against postseason contenders

September 3rd, 2022

PHOENIX -- Teams in postseason contention take note: You don't want to be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks right now.

The D-backs continued their winning ways Friday night as they beat the Brewers, 2-1, at Chase Field. It was Arizona's seventh win in its past eight games.

It's worth noting that all of those contests have come against teams in the postseason hunt. The D-backs swept three games against the White Sox in Chicago and took two of three from the Phillies at home before winning the first two games of this four-game set against the Brewers.

"I think it's been a challenging test," said manager Torey Lovullo, who earned his 400th career win. "And I think we're passing, we're doing a good job."

Fueled by the influx of young players of late, the D-backs have come alive in the second half of the season.

"We're a good baseball team," Lovullo said. "When we do the things the way we know how to do them, and we keep pressing on each and every day, we're a good baseball team. And that's starting to come together for us, but it's a process.

"That process for young players takes a little time. That process for players that are coming together for the first time at the big league level takes a little bit of time. And I think our guys are very engaged and excited. And we're fighting against really good baseball teams."

Right-hander Zach Davies allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings before being removed when his pitch count reached 91. Davies exited with a runner on first base and two outs in the fifth, then three straight walks by reliever Kyle Nelson forced home Milwaukee's lone run.

As the D-backs have been doing lately, though, they answered right back with four straight hits off left-hander Eric Lauer to open the bottom of the fifth. Emmanuel Rivera's RBI double tied the game, then Jake McCarthy's RBI single gave Arizona a 2-1 lead.

There is a confidence building in the D-backs' clubhouse, something that was hard to come by last year, when they lost 110 games, and earlier this year, when they were sitting near or at the bottom of the National League West.

"It feels good," infielder Josh Rojas said. "I think everyone was aware of it when we started this stretch that we’re going to be playing quite a few teams that might come in here with the mentality of winning games to secure their Wild Card spot. Our goal is to make a run of our own, and if not, at least take away any run that another team is trying to come in here and make, whether it’s here or on the road. That was the mentality we had when we came into this, and hopefully we can keep doing that."

Arizona will need to keep that mentality going forward, because its schedule does not get any easier.

The D-backs have five games remaining against the Brewers -- including three in Milwaukee to end the season -- seven against the Padres, eight against the MLB-best Dodgers and two against the Astros, who have the best record in the American League.

While still a daunting schedule, it looks a lot different than it did only a few weeks ago.

"I think, before this last month, those were maybe just survival games," Rojas said. "I think, right now, we’ve got to try to prove a point that we’re a better team than we show in our record. We’re not where we want to be. We’ve been playing good baseball lately, but we’re still below .500. I don’t think that’s where we feel we belong as a team.

"We’ve lost some games that we should have won throughout the year, and hopefully, this last month, we can prove to these teams that are in the fight for the postseason that we’re a team to recognize."