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D-backs' path gets tougher after Cubs' thumping

September 19, 2018

PHOENIX -- There's nothing left for the D-backs to say, really. Words won't get it done at this point, only wins will, and even then the math is heavily against them.On Tuesday night, after a 9-1 loss to the Cubs in front of a Chase Field crowd that loudly cheered

PHOENIX -- There's nothing left for the D-backs to say, really. Words won't get it done at this point, only wins will, and even then the math is heavily against them.
On Tuesday night, after a 9-1 loss to the Cubs in front of a Chase Field crowd that loudly cheered the visitors, the D-backs were left trying to explain what has happened to their season.
In first place when September began, they are now 4-13 during the month, having dropped four straight and 11 of 13.
"I wish there was something that you could just put your finger on and put a Band-Aid on it and go on," veteran catcher Jeff Mathis said. "We're just not doing the things we need to do all around -- defense, pitching-wise, definitely at the plate. There's a lot of things that we're not doing now that's causing a lot of this. We just have to clean it up."
There's precious little time to do that, with just 10 games remaining in the regular season.
With the loss, the D-backs fell to six games behind the Cardinals in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot and six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West after Los Angeles' 3-2 win over Colorado in 10 innings on Tuesday night.
"I don't want to sound like I'm the crazy, solo thinker here, but we still have a heartbeat," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "I know things are pretty rough here right now, but things have happened in this game that lead me to think that we could do it. I've seen things like this firsthand. So we're not going to shut down. This team can fight until we can fight no longer."

Mathis, one of the leaders in the clubhouse, said he understands why fans are frustrated with the team's September slide, but he wants them to understand that it is not because of lack of effort from the players.
"It doesn't look good," Mathis said of some of the ugly losses of late. "But I can firmly tell you from the way I feel, that's not the case. Nobody in here has rolled over. That's not the way we go about it. There ain't nobody going to give up in this room. It's not a part of what's in this room. It's tough. It's tough going through what we're going through right now, and like I said, just gotta put it behind you."
Lovullo, who won the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2017 for leading the D-backs to 93 wins and an NL Wild Card berth, continues to believe in his guys.
"These guys are walking through a firestorm right now," he said. "They just got to keep plowing away. We just need to keep fighting on. That's all I can say. That's my message to the guys every single time I see them or talk to them or communicate to them through the media. I believe in this group and I know they can come out the other end."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Enough already:Matt Andriese, who made his first start for the D-backs in place of the injured Clay Buchholz, was on a pitch count of around 50, and Anthony Rizzo made him use nearly a third of them in one first-inning at-bat.
When the Cubs first baseman came to the plate with one out and a runner on third, he took a called strike on the first pitch. What followed was an amazing at-bat that took a total of 17 pitches and included 12 foul balls, including six straight at one point. Andriese got Rizzo on a lineout to shortstop Nick Ahmed on the second-base side of the bag, but the long at-bat seemed to really drain Andriese, who gave up a two-run homer to the next hitter, Javier Baez. Andriese was done after just two innings and 61 pitches having allowed five runs on five hits.
"That Rizzo at-bat really made me work hard," Andriese said. "It put me behind the eight-ball there. I threw everything at him. I threw all four pitches, pretty good locations. He was fouling it off. It was a good battle. When I know I'm on a limited pitch count, that drove that up real quick, just being out there for two innings there, it was way too many pitches. That was the moral of the story."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ketel Marte hit a solo homer in the second inning that had an exit velocity of 112.9 mph, per Statcast™, tying him with Paul Goldschmidt for the second-hardest-hit homer by a D-backs player this season behind Christian Walker, who hit one at 114.4 mph.

HE SAID IT
"We aren't shutting down. We aren't quitting. We aren't giving up. We still have two feet in this race. I believe that something good can come out of this. Whether it's tomorrow or next year, I believe we're learning some valuable lessons that are going to help us move on and become the organization and team we need to become." -- Lovullo
UP NEXT
Robbie Ray (5-2, 4.14 ERA) will take the mound for the D-backs on Wednesday night as they close out this three-game series. The left-hander has been on a good roll of late. Over his last eight starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA. In his last start, he allowed a pair of runs over 5 1/3 innings vs. the Astros. The Cubs will counter with left-hander Cole Hamels (4-0, 1.57) in the 6:40 p.m. MST matchup at Chase Field.

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