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There's a point at which the Diamondbacks need to say "Wait until next year!" It seems to me that we are teetering precariously close to that moment. Not so much because of our record, but because of the way we're playing, and specifically, our offense which is basically dead in the water right now. In the past six games, we've scored only ten runs - 30% of those coming on one swing from Mark Reynolds, and are batting just .177. Hell, crank it back to cover the 22 games we've played since June 25: barely three runs per game and .226. That's why we're 6-16 in that time. So, today's discussion (and associated poll): is the season over?
One year ago today, I wrote the words above, as a discouraging loss sunk the Diamondbacks record to only 50-48. While a couple above this year's mark, the team were, in many ways, worse off, since they were 4.5 games back in the division at that point - Baseball Prospectus gave us only a 2.3% chance of making the playoffs. Oddly, extending the simlarities, the defeat came after the villain yesterday, Brandon Lyon, allowed three runs in a game for the first time in over a year, in a contest that was also started by Webb.
However, the team chose the following day to begin a streak of eight consecutive wins, which propelled Arizona into a lead that they never relinquished, as they went 40-24 the rest of the way. And who did that streak start against? The Chicago Cubs, whom we face again today. This is both encouraging and discouraging. It's clear that the season is still very much up for grabs. But do you feel there is a realistic chance of us posting a .625 win percentage the rest of the way? Don't all rush.
So, the Cubs come to town - with all that means. Having gone to all three games against them at Chase last year, I am taking a sabbatical, having had more than my fill over that weekend. [While I know from personal experience that Cubs supporters include some of the most articulate and well-informed baseball fans out there... those aren't the ones who showed up at Chase. Let's say no more than that] It's going to be a battle of the back-ends as far as the rotation goes - today at least, the advantage definitely appears to be with Chicago.
Harden was very solid in his first outing for the Cubs, going 5.1 scoreless innings, and striking out ten - it did take him almost 100 pitches to get that far. In contrast, Johnson has been through a rough patch, though has won back-to-back starts for the first time since May 18 - albeit mostly thanks to an eight-run inning posted in support of him against the Phillies. However, Johnson has never lost to the Cubs, going 12-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 13 starts: Of course, the last time he faced them was back in April 2004, and it's safe to say he is not quite the same pitcher he was then. Still... 13-0 looks so much better...
I'm having a bet with my lead here at work, who is a Cubs fan: if the D-backs sweep the Cubs, he has to wear an AZ cap for a day, or the other way around. If I'm not really very optimistic that he will be seen wearing Diamondbacks headgear on Thursday, I will be more than happy if we can somehow find a way to take two out of three. We have comedy tonight, so won't be able to take part in the thread; will hopefully be able to see it at the Grand Tavern, where we are comedy-ing. The post-game recap will therefore be a) late, and b) brief - and, indeed it will be tomorrow, since we're going to see Eddie Izzard. Therefore, if anyone fancies recapping either game, let me know, or work it out yourselves in the comments.