If the Diamondbacks produced more wins at home this season, they could make Tony La Russa a prophet. As early as last November, La Russa, the team’s Chief Baseball Officer, said he would be, in his word, ”shocked” if his team does not finish at .500 or above.
In order for the Diamondbacks to least break even on the season, they would have to run the table on their six remaining games. Now at home, the Padres and Astros stand in the way from another season filled with hope but ending in disappointment.
When the Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 4-2 Sunday afternoon in Petco Park, they completed the road portion of their season. The victory boosted Arizona to a road season mark of 40-41 but, with those six games remaining at home, the Diamondbacks have a 35-40 record in Chase Field.
Coming off a road trip where they took series in San Francisco and San Diego and split a four game set in Dodger Stadium, this end to a road reason clearly compares favorably to the mark of year ago. Under Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks dropped 14 of their final 17 road games in 2014, and finished with the worst record in the majors.
“I was really proud of the way they came to play every night, every day, prepared and were ready to play the game the right way and hustle,” manager Chip Hale told MLB.com after Sunday’s win in San Diego. “Things turned our way for the most part. We had a good winning road trip on a tough road trip.”
Now, Hale transformed this team into an aggressive squad, who is not afraid to take chances running the bases and swing heavy bats. This approach clearly served Hale well this season, and the forecast for 2016 is likely more of the same.
Even if the Diamondbacks fail to reach the .500 mark by this coming Sunday’s finale, they can certainly influence the American League West Division race. Coming into play Monday, the Astros, Rangers and Angels all have a shot at the division title. The Astros close their season in Chase Field and the Diamondbacks will be ready with heavy artillery.
As of Monday’s games, the Texas Rangers hold down first place in the AL West and the Astros are 2.5 games out. The Angles are three games back of the Rangers.
After Sunday’s win in San Diego, Hale indicated lefty Robbie Ray, if next Sunday’s game would have an outcome on the division race, could start that one against Houston. The game would begin at 12 noon, MT because Major League Baseball directed all games this Sunday begin at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
For now, the Diamondbacks return to complete a schedule once filled with promise. While the road mark was an acceptable one game below .500, the remaining six games should go a long way to found La Russa’s prophecy or create another false screen under the guise of triumph and achievement.
THE FINAL HOME STAND
Beginning Tuesday night, the Colorado Rockies are in for three. They are followed in by the Houston Astros for the final three games of the season.
On Tuesday night, it’s lefty Robbie Ray (5-12, 3.53 ERA) taking the hill for Arizona and opposed by right-hander Christian Bergman (3-1, 4.62). On Wednesday night, righty Chase Anderson (6-6, 4.40) gets the call against right-hander Chad Bettis (8-5, 4.38). In the finale Thursday night, look for Patrick Corbin (6-5, 3.28) to go against righty David Hale (5-5, 6.01).
Some numbers. Against Anderson, Nolan Arenado is 4-for-17 (.235 with three home runs), Charlie Blackmon is 6-for-21 (.286 with two home runs) and Carlos Gonzalez is 0-11. Against Corbin, Arenado is 3-for-16 (.188), Blackmon is 4-12 (.333), Gonzalez is 2-for-10 (.200) and D. J. LeMahieu is 7-for-19 (.368).
Against Bergman, Ender Inciarte is 3-for-9 (.333) and David Peralta is 2-for-8 (.250). Against Hale, Paul Goldschmidt is 2-for 6 (.333, both hits are home runs), Jake Lamb is 2-for-6 (.333), Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 2-for-8 (.250) and Yasmany Tomas is 3-for-6 (.500).