D-backs' bats stay in slump; playoff odds take hit

Arizona 5 1/2 games back in race for 2nd NL Wild Card after series loss

September 16th, 2019

PHOENIX -- If there was an answer to fix the offense, the D-backs surely would have found it by now.

All the hours spent watching video and the extra time hitting in the batting cages would have unearthed something that would explain how the runs have gone missing at a crucial time in the season.

“There’s nothing really more that you can do or say,” catcher said. “Guys work their [butts] off, we’re prepared, it’s just a matter of they’re executing and we’re not. It’s just unfortunate that it’s at this point in the season right now.”

Yes, the postseason math is getting grim for the D-backs.

Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Reds at Chase Field, combined with the Cubs’ victory over the Pirates, left Arizona 5 1/2 games back of Chicago for the second National League Wild Card spot with only 12 games remaining.

Complicating things further, there are three teams -- the Brewers, Mets and Phillies -- between the D-backs and Cubs.

The D-backs still have a soft schedule remaining with a three-game series vs. the Marlins beginning Monday and six games left against the slumping Padres. But if Arizona is going to make a late run, it will need to get its offense going. Over the D-backs’ last eight games -- seven of which have been losses -- they’ve scored 12 total runs.

“We’re basically continuing to dig that hole and making it harder to dig out,” said Avila, who scored the D-backs' lone run on a Wilmer Flores single in the third inning.

Their one win in the past eight games came Saturday, when they became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win a game of at least nine innings while having only one baserunner.

On Sunday, it was Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer, the D-backs' 2011 first-round Draft pick, who held them to one run over eight innings.

“Offensively, we aren’t getting it done right now,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I wish I had a magic wand and I could just swing it over these guys and make it all go away. But that’s not what happens in this game. What happens in this game is you continue to simplify it and you go back to the drawing board each and every day, which is what we’re doing to try to figure out some of the hitting concepts and some of the reasons why things are happening.”

Eight days ago, the D-backs trailed the Cubs by 1 1/2 games and had won 11 of 12 games. They dropped the final game of their series vs. the Reds last Sunday in Cincinnati, then got swept in a four-game set by the Mets in New York. This weekend, they lost two of three to the Reds.

Now, Arizona needs to win just about all of its 12 remaining games and hope the teams ahead of it lose about half of theirs in order to have a chance to reach the postseason.

“When we do things that we do best, when we break it down and keep it as simple as possible, we get very, very good,” Lovullo said. “I don’t know what’s going on offensively. I don’t. I really don’t. We’ve got a very capable group of guys, and I wish I could give you guys an explanation. I wish I could talk to them about it. There’s not a simple science as to what’s happening. But we are going to stick to the process and come out on the other end as soon as we can.”

Whether or not it’s already too late remains to be seen.