For fans in both Phoenix and Chicago, this week’s matchup against one another is supposed to get their respective teams back on track. For Arizona, it is a must-win, should-win series as the Diamondbacks go on to face three more teams after the Cubs with sub-.500 records. Facing the lowly Cubs, cellar dwellers of the NL Central over the past few seasons, the Diamondbacks can finally get back on track with some steam moving forward, and salvage what has been an abysmal April. For Chicago, Cubs fans feel almost the same exact way. If the Cubbies can beat the Diamondbacks and force them into the cellar of the NL, then perhaps Chicago can get this club moving in the right direction for the first time in nearly five seasons.
Chicago has not won a series since last September, but that appears to be changing soon as the Diamondbacks have dropped nine of their last ten after losing the series opener to the Cubs last night. If the Cubs can take three of four- or even all four- games in this series, Chicago could build some confidence moving into a series with the number one team in the majors, Milwaukee Brewers.
As just mentioned, the Cubs struck first in this four game series, winning by a score of 5-1 after an hour-long rain delay. Starting pitcher Travis Wood (1-2, 2.52 ERA) pitched brilliantly for the Cubs in the game, giving up just one run over seven innings, but it was his bat that had fans in awe. Wood helped his own cause in winning the game by smacking a three-run home run off of Arizona starter Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 9.50 ERA) and drove in four of his team’s five runs. With that home run, Wood has now homered in all five seasons he has pitched in the majors (seven total) and is the only active pitcher to have more than one game with four RBI’s.
When things are going as bad as they are in the desert, it seems like nothing can help right the ship. That was made apparent by Catcher Miguel Montero who told reporters after the game that it is hard for the Diamondbacks to rally back in games when they are “down five runs.” Unfortunately forArizona and Montero, it is also hard to win games by scoring only one run. The starting pitching for Arizona has been dreadful, to say the very least, but for a team to have the worst record in the majors, there are a lot more problems to diagnose than just the starting pitching alone. In the first game of this series, the Diamondbacks went 0-5 with runners in scoring position.
On the season, the Diamondbacks have a 35 percent team productive outs percentage. Or in other words: in 75 chances this season to make a productive out at the plate (either by sac-fly, advancing of a runner, etc.), the team has been successful only 26 times. With this lack of timely hitting paired with the pitching woes so far on the season, there is no reason to believe that the Diamondbacks should be better than dead last.
The Diamondbacks have many holes to plug up and it does not seem to be happening anytime soon. As for now, the Cubs will be happy to assist the Diamondbacks on their journey to the cellar, as they know what it feels like to be stuck in there with no way out.
In Game Two, the Chicago Cubs look poised to finally win consecutively for the first time in 36 games. The Cubs will face Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy who is winless in the month of April for two years in a row now (0-6, 7.38 ERA). McCarthy (0-3, 7.11 ERA) will go head-to-head with Cubs starter, Jason Hammel (2-1, 3.05 ERA). In eight starts against Arizona, Hammel has been adequate, posting a 2-3 record with a 4.13 ERA.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles; The Snake Pit
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer for the Arizona Diamondbacks