ST. LOUIS -- With their 5-2 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, the D-backs find themselves at the .500 mark.
A rare poor outing by Zack Greinke (10-4) cost the D-backs a chance to win the series from the Cardinals and left them at 47-47, the ninth time since the beginning of June that they’ve found themselves at the break-even mark.
“If we’re happy to be at .500, we’re making a big mistake here,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “These guys are much better than that, and I know they feel that way. I know I’m certainly not happy sitting around .500, so if that’s the mindset we have, I probably need to stay ahead of that and make sure that we know that we’re a better team than that. I believe they feel that same way as well.”
While the D-backs are in the National League West and the Cardinals occupy the Central, the two teams are in direct competition when it comes to the NL Wild Card.
The D-backs are 1 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot, and still need to leapfrog the Cardinals at 46-45 and the Brewers at 48-46. Meanwhile, the Rockies are just half a game behind the D-backs, and the Padres are one game back.
“Today we had an opportunity to take a series,” Arizona veteran outfielder Adam Jones said. “They took the series. And we’re fighting for the same spot to be the Wild Card. We have to keep fighting. There’s no reasons or excuses that I’m going to make or create for any of it. Sometimes it’s just how the season goes. We just need to get off on a run.
"It was great to get that first win out of the break, but we just needed the series. Especially the second half, winning series are more important at this point in time. It’s going to be hard the rest of the way getting five, six, seven, eight-[game] winning streaks, but second half you can take series. That’s when you can start to separate yourself.”
The D-backs are running out of time to do so if they hope to convince their front office that the organization should buy and not sell at the July 31 Trade Deadline.
After Monday’s off-day, the D-backs play two games against the Rangers in Texas before heading home for a crucial four-game series against the Brewers.
“It’s my job to make sure that we go out and try to win every baseball game, and that’s what we do,” Lovullo said. “People have been asking me if this [was] a critical series. Yeah, of course it is. Everything is meaningful right now. We’re post All-Star break, so these games matter. They always matter. But I want to emphasize one thing -- that we’re a good baseball team, and we need to show that every day.”
Effort doesn’t seem to be an issue for the D-backs, even when they lose.
Take Sunday for example. Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright shut them down for seven innings and the D-backs trailed 5-0 heading into the ninth.
On a stifling-hot St. Louis afternoon with a plane flight and off-day looming, it would have been easy for the D-backs to have packed it in, but they managed to score a pair of runs and bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate before finally relenting.
Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed was asked why getting over the .500 mark on a consistent basis has been a problem.
“I don’t know,” Ahmed said. “We grind, and we’re battling. Everyone is doing the best they can, but we’ve got to be more consistent. One area of the game doing well, the other area, not so good. I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer.”