The Diamondbacks are two baseball teams: one is young and cheerful and the other is inexperienced and flawed.
They fight each other on a daily basis. One of them will eventually win.
On Sunday, the Valley celebrated a fine Diamondbacks – a team that celebrated a pivotal 5-2 win over the Reds at Chase Field, extending their lead to 1.5 games over the team chasing them in the Wild Card standings.
It marked the end of a wild streak, and seems to be one of the strangest months in team history. The Diamondbacks have fallen out of favor and in contention after a nine-game losing streak in the August opener.
Left for dead, they have responded by winning 10 of their last 12 games.
“It was a good win,” said Tori Lovolo, manager of the Diamondbacks.
After losing Game 3 of the series on Saturday, the Diamondbacks responded with a strong emotional effort to win the series. It included a stellar walk from starting pitcher Slade Cecconi, an impactful performance from Corbin Carroll (including an attempted inside-the-park run that failed spectacularly) and a clutch run from Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a towering blast that seemed to transform the field.
“Looks like that little injection of energy woke the whole bunker up,” said Lovolo.
After Gurriel’s heroics, the Diamondbacks blew the game in the eighth inning, a frame that also highlighted the fear and panic associated with this team.
He walked Carroll to open the inning, and promptly stole his 40th base of the season. Ketel Marte followed with a walk, and the Diamondbacks were cooking. But the crowd of 26,574 was eerily silent, only intervening when the scoreboard operator begged for noise.
It was a sign of a traumatized crowd that was once too often burned in late-game situations, a fanbase that was too often the victim of stagnant attack and bad promotion.
But not this time.
In the penultimate inning, the Diamondbacks stacked at bats and textbook execution, a rich tapestry of walks, stolen bases, a sacrifice fly and that well-timed hit.
The Reds went quietly into the ninth inning against Ryan Thompson, the freshman reliever whom Lofolo met for the first time Sunday morning. The confluence of events allowed the Diamondbacks to enjoy a drama-free finish, a sign that the team is heading in the right direction.
“I think there was a subtle focus at the times that mattered most,” Lovolo said.
After the match, Lovolo said he was proud of his team for its culture and resilience. For refusing to roll when they fell two games under .500. To beat the 0-9 start to August.
There are 31 matches left. The next six are against the first place teams – Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles. There are no guarantees about which team you will see next.
But you can pretty much do this for an infuriating and exhilarating baseball team: There’s no dying in these Diamondbacks.
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