Even Dan Haren can not stop the bleeding.
Haren, now considered the ace of the Diamondbacks pitching staff, too victim to the road disaster which has become Arizona trademark in recent weeks. With Haren’s 8-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park Thursday night, the D-Backs dropped a franchise-record 13 straight. That bettered the club mark of 11 set between August 17 and September 19, 2008. The last Diamondbacks win on the road was a 5-1 win over the Marlins in south Florida on May 17. In fact, on that road trip, the team dropped three of five to Atlanta and Florida.
With the defeat, Haren dropped to 7-5 with a career-high 4.71 ERA as a full-time starter.
“It’s pretty frustrating at this point,” said D-Backs field manager A. J. Hinch just before the club left on its present road trip. “We keep getting punched in the face several times and this is starting to wear on the team.”
Now in the middle of June, there seems to be a collective collapse on the part of key players. Third baseman Mark Reynolds is in the middle of horrible slump. His batting average is threatening to drop below the Mezonda Line at .200 and from his second time at bat against the Cardinals June 13 through the just-completed Red Sox series, he struck out 13 of 15 times at the plate. That includes striking out looking with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Thursday night and the D-Backs down 6-4 at that point.
In the first of what many believe will be a fire sale of this team, general manager Josh Byrnes dealt outfielder Conor Jackson to Oakland for minor leaguer reliever Sam Demel, a 24 year right hander from Channelview, Tex. on June 15. Originally a 35th round selection of the Texas Rangers in 2004, Demel chose not to sign and was eventually selected by the A’s in the 3rd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
It’s clear that the D-Backs gave up on Jackson. Hitting .238, one home run a 11 RBIs at the time of the trade, the move was influenced by performance on the field and finances. For 2010, the Diamondbacks will pick up about $375,000 of Jackson’s $3.1 million, and he is eligible for arbitration at the end of the current season.
Despite experiencing one of the worst seasons in franchise history, all may not be lost. At least, that’s the view from Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRusso, one of the gurus of the present baseball world.
“They are not a down team,” LaRusso said when the Cardinals were at Chase Field last weekend. “I think they need to work on some things, but it may too late for that. That’s why there is spring training.”
LaRusso, one of four lawyers in the history of the game to manage a team, has an impeccable track record. Since he took over a skipper of the Red Birds, he has won the National League Central crown eight times beginning in 1996, and another five American League West titles managing Oakland. That also includes five trips to the World Series and one title with each the A’s and Cardinals.
Mere words of consolation may not be enough.
“It’s real upsetting,” Hinch added. “We need to do something in June to change it.”
At this point, there’s not much Hinch, Byrnes, and decision-makers can do but hope the players snap out of this dreadful streak. While there are still three and one half months of baseball still on the calendar, the D-Backs, at this early date of the pennant race, are threatening to fall completely off the baseball radar screen.