It just doesn't look very good for the Arizona Diamondbacks right now.
If you're a fan, you've gotta like the team's young offensive core -- Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young still haven't even hit their primes yet -- and are a respectable, if not intimidating, rotation. But the Diamondbacks' bullpen simply can't get opposing hitters out, and there's no reason to think the relieving corps will get any better. So, there's not a lot of hope for the 2010 team.
On Friday night, the bullpen shot to hell another strong start by young right-hander Ian Kennedy. And on Sunday, they failed to stop the bleeding after a rough start by Dan Haren. (Hey, even staff aces are allowed to blow up once in a while.) After Haren gave up six runs in just 4.1 innings, the bullpen turned the game into a laugher as the Atlanta Braves won 13-1, taking two of three in the series.
The D-Backs have now lost of eight of their past nine games. Their only victory in that stretch was Saturday's 11-1 blowout, behind Rodrigo Lopez's rock-solid eight-inning outing. Lopez hadn't gone eight innings since 2006, when he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles. On Saturday, he scattered seven hits and struck five to lower his earned-run average to a respectable 3.81.
Also on Saturday, the sleepwalking D-Backs offense woke up, with 13 hits, including home runs by Kelly Johnson (his 11th), Upton, and a three-run blast by Drew. Sadly, the hitters went right back to sleep against the Braves' Tim Hudson on Sunday, scratching out just three harmless singles. Granted, the veteran Hudson was really on his game, looking aggressive, getting ahead early in counts, and throwing just 104 pitches over eight airtight innings, striking six D-Backs and walking only one.
Haren looked just the opposite. He was uncharacteristically ineffective from the get-go, giving up two runs in the first inning, one in the fourth, and then three more in the bottom of the fifth, until A.J. Hinch finally yanked him. Haren, as good a pitcher as there is in the National League, had pitched at least six innings in his previous eight starts. "I was really fighting myself," Haren said.
Tonight, the D-Backs will open a two-game series against another NL East team, the Florida Marlins, in Miami. The Marlins are 20-18, good for a tie for second place in the East, and winners of four in a row and seven of their past 10. Edwin Jackson, who is slowly rebounding from a terrible start to the season, will take the mound for the D-Backs. Chris Volstad will start for the Marlins.
First pitch: 4:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 92.3 FM. More info: www.dbacks.com