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Series Preview #43 : D-backs @ Rockies

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Destiny is within reach.  Against the Rockies, two series remain un-played.  Winning these series would be like catching a tidal wave!

Catch a Tidal Wave
Catch A Tidal Wave
Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images for IRONMAN

CATCH A TIDAL WAVE: WIN THIS SERIES

Yahoo! I am bursting with joy because my Diamondbacks are playing well! I’m stoked by the postseason possibilities!

Destiny is within reach. Against the Rockies, two series remain un-played. Winning these series would be reaching as far as a star! Derrick Hall said, “Its fun when you control your own destiny.”

Will the D-backs gain home field advantage in the one-game play-in game? The D-backs play much better at home, so that advantage is especially important. And after the play-in game, the D-backs are much more feared by the Dodgers than the Rockies. This week, the D-backs swept the Dodgers! And with significant chances to win a playoff series against the Dodgers, this season could amaze and dazzle loyal fans. That chain of events is why winning this series would be like catching a tidal wave for D-backs.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Taijuan Walker (132 ERA+, 7.8 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9) vs Kyle Freeland (131 ERA+, 6.1 SO/9, 3.4 BB/9)

On 26 August, the D-backs finally found a way to win a game with Walker pitching. The win broke Walker’s streak of ten starts without a win! That streak was surprising because for those ten games, his earned run average was not that bad (3.92). In the three games that he allowed 1 or 2 runs, it is surprising the D-backs did not win at least once. I am glad the streak is over!

In Freeland’s last three starts, he pitched 17.2 innings with 9 earned runs. When he wins, Freeland gets excellent run support. In July, Rockies scored 10 or more runs in all three of his wins. In August, his run support is about 4.5 runs per game, giving the D-backs good chances.

Saturday. Patrick Corbin (120 ERA+, 8.7 SO/9, 2.5 BB/9) vs Jon Gray (120 ERA+, 8.7 SO/9, 2.7 BB/9)

Wow! Patrick Corbin’s last four starts are ‘ace’ quality – 30.1 innings, 1 earned run, 29 strikeouts. The D-backs are heavy favorites to win this game.

On Sunday, Jon Gray pitched 6 innings with zero earned runs, earning his highest game score of the season (67). However, he was lucky that no runs were scored because he allowed base runners in 6 different innings. When asked about his 2015 debut against the Mariners, Jon Gray said, “I’m facing (Robinson) Cano and those guys but all I could think about was staying within myself, throwing strikes and keeping it simple. It was really fun.” Will the D-backs’ hitters have fun this game?

Sunday. Zack Godley (149 ERA+, 9.5 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9) vs Antonio Senzatela (107 ERA+, 6.7 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9)

Riding a streak of three losses, Zack Godley pitched against the Dodgers on Tuesday. He broke the streak! Except for a third inning with 2-run homer by Taylor and a Grandal RBI, he pitched very well against the Dodgers. And in the fourth inning he got on base, and scored on a Peralta triple - he must have felt in control of his destiny! Winning this game was a confidence builder for Godley and the whole team!

On-line, I scouted the first inning of Senzatela pitching against the Tigers. He quickly gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. His slider was flat and batters confidently hit his fastball. The first inning would have been longer except for a double play that ended the fun.

Mental Habit of the Series: Express Your Emotions

In August, Torey Lovullo talked about one of his coaching principles. He allows his players to have feelings and express their feelings with words. The reason is that suppressed feelings can cause barriers and keep them from having an empty mind needed to perform well. Success leaves clues! Let’s explore emotional expression.

Detox Bad Feelings. Baseball players experience emotions with their failures and successes in each game. Emotional expression can clear failures from the mind.

Gregor Blanco is a great example. I appreciate his outstanding outfield defense because it contributes greatly to the D-back’s success this season. Let’s look at his five at bats against the Mets on 24 August. With four strikeouts, he earned an inglorious golden sombrero. Remarkably, he might be happy thinking about that game. After strikeouts in the first and third innings, his emotions might have been too strong to ignore. He might have expressed them by saying something to his teammates like, “That sucked, … now I’ve paid my dues and I’m due for a solid success.” Maybe that detoxified the bad feelings by taking them with a good anticipated feeling, and maybe expressing what was on-his-mind cleared his mind. In the fifth inning, he hit a single to right field earning an RBI, tying the score. He was due! And the D-backs won the game by 1-run! That is why Gregor Blanco might be happy!

Prevent Bad Emotional Decisions. Expressing emotions is a great alternative to making a bad decision because of emotions. Jonathon Papelbon is an example. He was disturbed over what he perceived as a lack of hustle in Bryce Harper. He talked/yelled to Harper, who talked back. Then Papelbon decided to charge Harper and tried to choke him. What a bad emotional decision! The other side of the story is that it was easy for me to find stories of Bryce Harper playing with “reckless abandon.”

Respond Better To Signal Feelings. Frustration, fear, and disgust can signal me that the situation may not be as it should be. After that signal, I might think in repetitive and non-productive patterns. Pausing to articulate my feelings may stop the pattern, or at least pause it long enough for me to be aware so I can clear my mind.

Unexpected Consequences. Some have written that emotions were freely expressed at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) event. There was debate about whether the nature of baseball is such that there is room for emotional expression. One unexpected consequence was well stated by Jon Taylor, who wrote, “After all, the WBC was fun precisely because these guys let go and showed their emotion.” I’m probably not the only person who thinks that when the players have more fun, the team will win more games!

Emotional Personality of the D-backs. Expression of emotions can build a team’s emotional personality. Personality makes life interesting! On the Doug and Wolf Show, Derrick Hall said that 1) anger is not the personality of the team, 2) if anger were expressed it would likely not be genuine, and 3) anger would not be effective in motivating the team. What is the team’s emotional personality? Perhaps it is an optimistic love of baseball. One aspect is expressing fun and joy in celebration after winning a game. That’s when the disco ball spins!

In summary, we explored how expressing emotions can detox my bad feelings, clear my mind, prevent bad emotional decisions, and lead me to respond better to frustrations. Expressing feelings can have an unexpected consequence of adding fun. The emotional personality of the D-backs is delightful. Every habit seems like the most amazing one of the season, and expressing feelings is the mental habit of the series.