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D-backs keep rolling with sweep of Yankees

Club plans to avoid same mistakes made after 2018's hot start
@SteveGilbertMLB
May 1, 2019

PHOENIX -- After Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Yankees at Chase Field, the D-backs find themselves with an 18-13 record and among the top teams in the National League. They’re happy about that, but they’re also cautious. They’ve been here before. It was just a year ago that Arizona went

PHOENIX -- After Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Yankees at Chase Field, the D-backs find themselves with an 18-13 record and among the top teams in the National League.

They’re happy about that, but they’re also cautious. They’ve been here before.

It was just a year ago that Arizona went 20-8 in March/April and won its first game of May.

Then the wheels came off in an 8-19 May that foreshadowed some of the issues that would crop up in an 8-19 September in which the D-backs went from first place to third.

“I think with what we learned last year, this is a 162-game season and we’re in the first part of May playing well and looking to keep it going,” setup man Archie Bradley said.

The D-backs have defied expectations to this point after losing 2018 Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock to free agency and trading Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals.

“There were some unknowns,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “But I think those unknowns are getting answered day by day, and not for me, but what’s in that clubhouse as well. I think we’re a good baseball team, and it’s showing up every single day.”

Wednesday shined the light on some of the players who have stepped up to fill the void.

Starter Merrill Kelly, who was signed as a free agent after spending the past four seasons pitching in Korea, held the Yankees to one run over 5 1/3 innings and has given the team a chance to win in all but one of his starts this year.

Ketel Marte, who has been the team’s primary center fielder with Pollock gone, had a double and a homer while scoring a pair of runs.

“We’ve got a good team in here,” Marte said. “We’ve got good talent. We can compete with anybody.”

After the team’s September collapse last year, there was a lot of soul-searching done by both the players and the front office as to why it happened. One of the things that came up was that there was too much of a focus on the standings and what the teams around the D-backs were doing.

“I feel like this year this team has a much better feel for what we’re trying to do,” Bradley said. “I mean, I couldn’t even tell you where we stand in the division, that’s how much we pay attention to it.”

While there is reason for optimism given their start, there has also been some good fortune sprinkled in there.

For instance, when the D-backs took on the Red Sox early in April, the Sox were not playing their best baseball, and while a two-game sweep of the Yankees is nice, it’s also fair to point out that the Yankees are without several key pieces, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.

“How can you not say that you feel fortunate when they’re minus Stanton and Judge?” Lovullo said.

And that’s why Lovullo will continue to ask his team to keep pushing and not be satisfied with the start or worry about what may come in September.

“You have to chase winning every single night and not worry about where it’s going to lead you in September,” Lovullo said. “We can’t look beyond our goal, and our goal is today. I know for certain one thing is going to happen -- we’re going to lose some games this year that are going to be heartbreaking, we’re going to lose some games consecutively that are going to be frustrating. But this group has already gone through that and learned on the fly.”

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