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Preview, #57: 5/29 @ Rockies

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oH nO, wE sUcK aGaIn...

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
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The Diamondbacks have outscored their opponents by 21 runs this month... and are 11-15. That almost deserves a “Well done!”, because it’s not easy to do. From a quick skim through our monthly splits (so I can’t guarantee 100% accuracy!), it looks like Arizona hasn’t had any kind of losing record in a calendar month with a +20 run differential or better, since September 2001. That month they scored 124 runs and conceded 102, for a differential of +22, but still went just below .500, with a record of 10-11. Obviously, this month is significantly worse in times of record. The reason is not hard to discern either: Arizona have been winning the blowouts and losing the close contests.

The month didn’t start that way, Indeed, four of Arizona’s first five victories were by one-run margins. We beat the Yankees and Rockies by scores of 3-2 and 10-9 respectively, then went extra innings to defeat the Rays and Braves, both also by a 3-2 scoreline. But the six victories since then have been by margins of 6, 10, 7, 16, 6 and 4 runs - an average margin of a whopping 8.2 runs per win. On the other side of the scale, not one of the dozen losses over the same time-frame have been by more than four runs, with the average deficit of 2.0 runs per loss. The D-backs have gone 21 consecutive games without a blowout (5+ runs) loss; again, quite impressive, considering they’ve lost 13 of those.

Now, this is certainly immensely infuriating, make no mistake about it. One-run losses are probably the worst kind, because they magnify the impact of managerial decisions and player actions. Failing to get in a runner from third with less than outs doesn’t really matter in a game you lose by eight runs. But in a one-run contest, it would be just one of any number of “if only...” moments. But in one-run games, pure luck - by which I mean, factors outside a player’s conscious control - also becomes vastly more important. A fraction of a millimeter’s difference on the bat turns a line-drive into an out. A ball is a strike, or vice-versa. All a team can really do is keep grinding, and hope that luck eventually goes their way.