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Snake Bytes, 8/25: Self-inflicted wounds

So much hope going into last night's game, and even after we evened the score at two. So cruelly crushed by sloppy defense and wasted opportunities.

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[AZ Central] Diamondbacks uncharacteristically sloppy in loss to Cardinals - “We hold ourselves to a high standard defensively and offensively,” Goldschmidt said. “It starts with myself tonight, making an error and having another at-bat with the bases loaded and hitting into a double play. It killed the momentum and might have cost us the game.” Another defensive foible contributed to St. Louis claiming the lead an inning later. After second baseman Greg Garcia led off with a single, pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos laid a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. As Lamb fielded the ball and threw to first, catcher Welington Castillo watched instead of covering third.

[Arizona Sports] Diamondbacks play uncharacteristically poor defense in loss to Cardinals - “As soon as the bunt was put down and (Castillo) knew Lamb was going to field it, his job is to get to third, and he knows that,” Hale said. “He’s very aware that he made that mistake.” Mental lapses and poor defense are usually what this D-backs team avoids; a team that heading into the night led the majors in defensive runs saved. The Diamondbacks saw several prime scoring opportunities, but failed to score with the bases loaded on three occasions before falling 5-3 despite recording 13 hits.

[] Cardinals end Diamondbacks' winning streak - Three times the D-backs managed to load the bases, and all three times they came away without putting a run on the scoreboard. "We had our chances," Hale said. "We did a great job of getting guys in scoring position for some of our good RBI guys, with Goldy and Aaron Hill coming up, and we just hit into some double plays. You also have to give the pitcher credit. He made good pitches, Molina called good pitches and they took advantage of us maybe being a little too aggressive.

[FOX Sports] Diamondbacks miscues, missed opportunites pile up in loss - Chacin worked around a Goldschmidt throwing error in the fifth to strand two runners. He wasn't as fortunate in the sixth, when David Peralta committed an error and the D-backs twice couldn't complete a double play that allowed the Cardinals to take a brief lead. "We didn't play very good defense behind him," Hale said. "Not very characteristic of how we play. We made some mental mistakes, too, and they cost us. As you learn to win and be a winning team and a winning organization, you can't have games like that."


[AZ Central] Diamondbacks playing, feeling like playoff contenders - After months of flirting with the .500 mark, the Diamondbacks finally moved past it. "It’s a big deal," Ender Inciarte said. "After losing so many games when were (close to) .500, I don’t know if it was just me, but I was thinking, ‘We’ve got to win today no matter what.’ I love the way we play. We’re a different team. When you see other teams, you don’t see them hustling the way we do or playing as hard as we do. We really want to make it to the playoffs and you can tell that everybody is on the same page. We are fun to watch. I enjoy watching my teammates play."

[FOX Sports] Diamondbacks on verge of putting themselves in pennant race - "We're not surprised at all," center A.J. Pollock said before a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals. "The cool part is we're all thinking we haven't hit our stride yet. Hopefully we can keep playing good baseball and we'll have some meaningful games later in the year." Later will have to wait. As manager Chip Hale preaches, it's the present that matters most. "We're in it today," Hale said. "People want to talk about, 'Hey, you have a chance to do this.' Well, we don't have a chance unless we play well right now."

[] D-backs have eyes on October after hot stretch - "You want to be there, you want to be playing for something," Hale said. "These guys are obviously always playing for their pride. They're going to bust their tail regardless, but when you see [that] you have a shot, we are playing some teams that we are going to be fighting for that playoff spot, whether it's the division or Wild Card, so they feel it. They can see ahead of them. We've had a couple of tough, long road trips against some good teams and I think we came out of it in good shape."

Team News

[FOX Sports] Diamondbacks call up Jhoulys Chacin to start vs. Cardinals - Robbie Ray was scheduled to start Monday but the D-backs wanted to give the entire rotation an extra day of rest in the middle of a stretch of 21 games in 20 days. "He's really earned this," manager Chip Hale said of Chacin, whom the D-backs signed to a minor league contract in mid-June. "We're here to win games. We want to win today. We thought he gave us the best chance to win today, giving Robbie Ray and Corbin and all these guys an extra day of rest."

[] Jhoulys Chacin called up to Diamondbacks - Whether Chacin's addition means that Randall Delgado will go back to the bullpen after starting this past Saturday in Cincinnati will be decided in the next 24 hours, according to Hale. Bradley, who had been on the DL with shoulder inflammation, will need to prove he's healthy and also have success in order to be called back up at some point. "I think he has to pitch at least two more times to show that he's lengthened out to throw 100-something pitches and be effective," Hale said.

[Arizona Sports\ Through trial and tribulation, Reynolds is finally back - "I was probably in the middle of one of the best seasons I have ever had and then I get hurt. At that point, you’ve got to kind of evaluate ‘am I ever going to make it back, is this the end of my career.’ The first couple weeks was definitely really, really difficult, but like I said and like all those other guys have done, you’ve got to block out bad and try to focus on your rehab and getting back to where you want to be."

[AZ Central] Chafin enjoying stellar rookie season in bullpen - A fastball that sat just shy of 92 mph in three big-league starts last year has been goosed to 94 this month due to the lighter workload of a reliever. He’s topped out at 96.7. His slider has been "good enough" to get out both righties and lefties, Hale said, and recently Chafin has been using his two-seamer more often. This month he’s used it more frequently than his four-seamer, primarily against right-handed hitters, working them inside with the slider before coming back outside with the sinker, which cuts down and away from a righty. "I’ve been getting more control of it lately," Chafin said.

[] NL Manager of the Year watch: Joe Maddon leads, Chip Hale surging - The first-year skipper took over a team that won 64 games last season and has had to deal with one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors. After sweeping a series in Cincinnati, the D-Backs are now over .500 and only five games out in the NL West, which just sounds insane given the immense talent of the Dodgers and the presence of the three-time champion Giants. If they somehow win the NL West (yes, it's incredibly unlikely), Hale may well win this award instead of [Joe] Maddon. Either way, his work this season is commendable.

And, elsewhere...

[USA Today] From field to front office, many believe chemistry still matters in baseball - You can’t measure it. You can’t define it. You can’t put a number on it. We’re talking about clubhouse chemistry, "It’s really undervalued,’’ St. Louis Cardinals veteran starter John Lackey said, "especially in today’s world with all of the numbers guys. We can put all kinds of numbers on players’ talent, from RBI to WAR, to ERA to FIP, but when it comes to the heart and soul of a clubhouse, there remains no measuring stick. "The numbers guys can’t quantify that one,’’ Lackey said, "so they don’t want to believe in it.’’

[New York Times] In Baseball, the Times Are Changing - In the minors [where there is also a pitch clock in effect], the reduction has generally been even larger. Through games on Aug. 17, the average length of a nine-inning game in the Class AAA International League had fallen to 2:41, from 2:56 in 2014, a 15-minute decline that was the biggest among the minor leagues. Right behind was the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, with a drop to 2:45 from 2:58. In Class AA, the Eastern League shaved off 12 minutes (2:38 from 2:50) and the Southern League, 11 minutes (2:41 from 2:52).

And finally, never let it be said that we do not believe in sharing contrary opinions here. I neither support nor endorse the next piece. But it was either this or a piece about the horrendous Eugene Emeralds Portlandia themed uniforms. I will leave you to Google Image the latter, though not if you value your eyesight. Anyway...

[Sporting News] Embrace the wave at baseball games - Having had a long-standing history of standing up — or sitting down, as it were — against the wave, this is a difficult thing to say, but a thing that must be said, one that hopefully will lead to greater happiness and fulfillment in life. The wave is OK. Actually, the wave is better than OK. The wave is one of the greatest expressions of democracy and free will that we have in society, let alone in sports, and it is a profoundly American concept that has spread globally.