When you’ve been as steady as the Diamondbacks this season, a streak-snapping loss can have an unbalancing effect, especially when it comes against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks had taken three of the first four games in the series and were en route to their first four-game sweep of the Dodgers in franchise history.
Instead, the Dodgers won — and the Diamondbacks had to remain focused with the San Diego Padres coming to town.
“None of us were thinking about that or concerned,” Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed said.
Still, the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff knew there wasn’t going to be time for head-hanging or dirt-kicking. They still had a wild-card race to finish, so they turned to a little video inspiration in their hitter’s meeting prior to Monday’s series opener at Chase Field.
The video was a montage of racers celebrating prematurely and losing as a result.
Often times, such videos are used to educate frontrunners to not let up before the finish line. In this metaphor, however, the Diamondbacks are the racer in back, who takes advantage of the mistakes made by the leader to come out on top.
“It was a video of some people running races and finishing strong,” explained Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.
Lovullo seemed to think the message was understood, especially after his offense posted 18 hits and four home runs on Monday in a 14-7 win over the Padres.
“I think it was very well-received and that we were smartened after yesterday’s game,” Lovullo said. “It was still a bitter taste and I think that pushed us through and gave us some good energy today.”
Explained Ahmed: “It was like a video of guys in races celebrating too soon, with guys passing them at the finish line. It was like speed skating, motorcycle races, a bunch of races where guys are starting to celebrate too soon and a guy snuck in and beat them at the end.”
Ahmed said the video was enough to get the hitters laughing and establish some pre-game camaraderie. The Diamondbacks sent nine hitters to the plate in the second inning and scored six runs, thanks in part to some sloppy defense by the Padres.
The Diamondbacks pushed across two more in the fifth before right-hander Mike Leake ran into trouble in the sixth inning, allowing four runs before ultimately getting pulled in the seventh.
The offense responded to Leake’s misstep with a four-run sixth inning of their own off converted infielder Javy Guerra, as well as two more runs in the seventh.
Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker all homered. Rojas, a Valley native, finished with a game-high four hits. Marte drove in four runs. Ahmed reached base three times, drove in a pair and scored a run.
However, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, mainly recent call-ups Robby Scott and Jon Duplantier, struggled in their respective returns to a big-league mound.
“It got a little slippery in there in the eighth and the ninth,” Lovullo said.
It was the kind of September game that, because of roster expansion, got sloppy with inexperienced players and a lack of available data. The Diamondbacks, however, made far fewer mistakes and were able to come out with a victory.
“We knew that maybe there would be some soft spots and some areas where we could take advantage of some things,” Lovullo said. “That’s why September baseball is so unpredictable. They had a number of players we hadn’t seen and faces we just didn’t know.
“It can get a little sloppy at times, but hopefully we continue the trend we’re on right now, playing good baseball, and it doesn’t happen to us.”
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Sean Logan, The Republic | azcentral.com