Are the Arizona Diamondbacks stumbling, rather than charging, into the playoffs?
After losing 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at Chase Field -- the D-Backs' fourth loss in their past six games -- it appears they may be a little wobbly as they get a little closer to their first playoff berth since 2007.
The good news is that the San Francisco Giants lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, which not only halted the Giants' eight-game winning streak but lowered the D-Backs' magic number to clinch the National League West to three. Any combination of three D-Backs wins or Giants losses will seal the deal. The D-Backs have seven games left in the regular season, and the Giants have eight. The two teams will meet for a three-game series this weekend at Chase Field.
Starting pitcher Daniel Hudson wasn't at his sharpest Tuesday night. The young righthander needed 103 pitches to get through only five innings, in which he gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks. It was one of Hudson's very few hiccups in an otherwise stellar second half of the season. His record now stands at 16-11.
It didn't help much that the offense continues to underwhelm (including Justin Upton, who went 0-for-5, lowering his batting average to .292), even in hitter-friendly Chase Field. The D-Backs were blanked by Charlie Morton (10-10) until the bottom of the seventh, when the Willie Bloomquist singled home Gerardo Parra to make the score 3-1.
Unfortunately, reliever David Hernandez coughed up a two-run home run to the Pirates' Derrek Lee in the top of the eighth to give the Pirates a four-run lead. The D-Backs got the two runs back in their half of the inning but were shut down by closer Joel Hanrahan in the bottom of the ninth.
The D-Backs will try to get back on track today in a rare matinee game, as a win will put them position to potentially clinch the NL West on Friday night against the Giants.
Rookie Wade Miley (3-2, 4.24 earned-run average) will face the Pirates' Ross Ohlendorf (1-2, 6.82) at 12:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.