Two weeks ago, the atmosphere surrounding the Diamondbacks was much different.
The club just swept a two-game series from the Texas Rangers and, after much effort and discussion, reached with .500 plateau with a 42-42 record.
The All-Star game loomed straight ahead, and with the natural break in the schedule, came conversation for the season half.
On July 8, the day they took that second game from Texas, the Diamondbacks were tied for second place in the National League West Division, but five and one-half games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
Coming into play Saturday at home against Milwaukee, they dropped to seven games under .500, and 10 and one-half game behind the Dodgers.
This slide included only two wins since beating the Rangers on July 8 and nine defeats.
All of which puts the Diamondbacks in a precarious position, and immediately, there are two questions.
First, and with the trading deadline looming in less than one week, will Arizona be buyers or sellers. Plus, can this team raise the level of their current game and be competitive through August and into September.
A principal reason for the recent fall from grace involves lack of production.
Prior to the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks led Major League Baseball in runs scored and, it seemed, to routinely pick up at least 10 hits in any one game.
Coming into Saturday’s home game with Milwaukee, they dropped to second in runs scored (417) with Colorado and behind the league-leading San Francisco Giants (420). The Diamondbacks remained third in the league in hitting (.262) behind the Giants (.273) and Rockies (.272).
“We’ve had a hard time scoring lately, especially on this home stand,” said manager Chip Hale. “We’ve talked about several aspects here, and it’s like beating a dead horse. But hitting is contagious. Once a few guys come around, the team tends to follow.”
If the Diamondbacks need to get their bats hot, they will have to do this on the road. Through the next several weeks, the schedule is a challenge, and the team will play the majority of their August games on the road.
After conclusion of the present home stand Sunday, the Diamondbacks play 20 of their next 26 contests away from Chase Field. That includes two trips into the Eastern time zone and visits to Houston, Washington, Atlanta and Pittsburgh, all teams in the post-season picture.
“Teams which are playing well and know they have a good chance to get in the playoffs don’t watch the scoreboard,” Hale said. “That affected us a little in Oakland (where Hale was the bench coach to manager Bob Melvin). Guys watched the scoreboard and we were off a little.”
At this point, the Diamondbacks have little value in watching how the Giants and Dodgers are progressing every night.
Throughout the season, Hale reminded listeners he is only interested in the game at hand. Where the past cannot be changed and the future remains an unknown phenomenon, Hale says there is no point to discuss any aspect of his team other than the present.
Perhaps, but the schedule ahead and the continued cold bats interact to present the most formidable challenges of the baseball season.