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Diamondbacks History: Date of 17th Loss

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Last Night, the Diamondbacks lost their 17th game, on May 4. This is not the earliest the Diamondbacks have lost 17. Let's take a look at some of the past teams to lose 17 games.

This picture has nothing to do with the article, but is an important public service announcement regarding hot dog condiments
This picture has nothing to do with the article, but is an important public service announcement regarding hot dog condiments
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the reaction following the 17th loss of the season, it seemed that no team has ever made the postseason while losing that many games. A quick check of the history of the franchise, though, shows that every Diamondback team that went on to win the NL West (all five of them) also lost 17 games at some point during the season. A quick look back at the circumstances of those losses shows that things may not be as insurmountable as we first feared.

1999: The Diamondbacks lost their 17th game of the season on May 16th. The Diamondbacks had been benefiting from more than their share of luck, winning five of the last six games (including three straight walk-off wins over the lowly Expos) to pull even atop the NL West with the San Francisco Giants. On May 16th, in the rubber game of a series against the 14-18 Rockies, the Diamondbacks lost the series. Pedro Astacio (who led the major leagues in earned runs allowed in 1998) pitched a complete game, allowing only one run, as the Diamondbacks offense failed to capitalize on their chances, picking up seven hits but not bunching them together. A double play and a caught stealing didn't help matters.

The team then went on the road to San Francisco and Colorado, ending the road trip 1.5 games back. After a brief time in first place, they fell all the way to 3.5 games back on July 10th, only 6 games over .500, but posted a .716 winning percentage the rest of the way to finish with 100 wins.

2001: The Diamondbacks managed to somehow lose 17 games by May 11th, as mediocre pitcher Randy Wolf outdueled bona fide ace Curt Schilling in a 5-1 loss at home to the Phillies. The loss dropped the Diamondbacks into a tie with the Padres for last place in the NL West (granted, every team in the division was within 1.5 games, but still, last place.) The Diamondbacks pythag was also only good for third in the division, trailing the Rockies and Padres. The Diamondbacks had spent exactly two days of the season in a tie for first place, and they were the first two days.

In fact, the Diamondbacks wouldn't take the lead in the division and hold onto it until August 11, three months later, in the second win of a nine game winning streak. But other teams were hot as well, so even after that streak the Diamondbacks still only held a 2.5 game lead in the division. The 2001 Diamondbacks would never run away with the division, never holding more than a 4.5 game lead and not clinching until the final series of the season in Milwaukee, eventually winning the division by 2 games.

2002: By some estimations, the 2002 Diamondbacks were the best team in franchise history. They certainly got off to a good start, with winning streaks of six games, four games, and four games again. But they still somehow managed to lose 17 games before the end of May, reaching that point on May 22nd. As with 1999 and 2001, the loss came at home, but this was a blowout, 12-5 loss to the Giants, who were 1.5 games behind coming into the game. David Bell hit two home runs and Barry Bonds hit one off Mike Morgan to put the Giants ahead for good.

The Diamondbacks would play 2 games better than the Giants over the remainder of the season and never trail in the division after July 16th.

2007: May 9th was the date, Jamie Moyer the junkballing pitcher that handed the Diamondbacks their 17th loss. The Diamondbacks had Randy Johnson on the mound, too, and he tossed six innings without allowing a run and striking out nine before the Phillies broke through in the seventh. After Johnson allowed the first three to reach, he was pulled for Brandon Medders, who gave up a grand slam to Ryan Howard. The Phillies added two in the 8th and three in the 9th. The loss was at home, and the Phillies were far from a good team that year. The Diamondbacks were outperforming their pythagorean and were lucky to be only 2 games behind the Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks continued to get lucky, and finally took first place in the NL West for good on September 5th with a win over the Padres. They clinched the division in the final series of the season, but had they won another game over the Rockies, it would be possible to argue they would have advanced to the second World Series in franchise history.

2011: On May 6th, the Diamondbacks lost their 17th game, two days earlier than the 2010 team and one day earlier than the 2009 team. Somehow, Kirk Gibson managed to avoid going the way of Bob Melvin and A.J. Hinch, both of whom were fired midseason. Chad Qualls took the win as the Padres won in a walk-off in the eleventh inning. The Diamondbacks were a surely-insurmountable 4.5 games behind the division leading Rockies. They had allowed more runs than anyone else in the division. Plus, this game was only the start of a disastrous road trip that saw the Diamondbacks go 3-6 (including being swept in San Francisco) and fall to a low point of 15-22, seven games under .500.

Somehow, that poor early start didn't spell doom for the Diamondbacks, who would enjoy brief forays into first place (never by more than a half game) in May and June before taking a lead they would never relinquish on August 10th.

As can be seen, a bad start doesn't necessarily spell doom for a team. Only the 2002 Diamondbacks were in first place at this point of the season and managed to hold on to first place. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks teams that finished in last place often lost their 17th game at a later date. The 2004 team lost theirs on May 8th, the 2009 team on May 7th, and the 2010 team also on May 8th.

While there are real concerns about the performance of the team so far, Diamondbacks fans need to keep things in perspective. It's a long season. We've seen teams start like this before, and wind up winning. Almost no Diamondbacks team has been in a great position at this point in the season, and the team with the hottest start in franchise history, in 2000, missed the postseason entirely.

In conclusion, remember that mustard is a proper topping for a hot dog and ketchup is not. Also, remember that a baseball season consists of 162 games, and there are 133 of those still to come. In order to win 92 games, the Diamondbacks only have to win 60% of those. The uphill climb still isn't that steep, and there is still time for Hale and company to right the ship.