With Schilling still recovering from an appendectomy, and an assorted number of injuries to key players, Arizona’s clubhouse looks more like an emergency room than home to the two-time defending NL West champions.
Randy Johnson, who has four NL Cy Young Awards in his four seasons with Arizona, is out at least another five weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery, while infielder Greg Counsell will be sidelined 10-to-12 weeks following thumb surgery. Starter Byung-Hyun Kim was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Sunday.
A year ago, Johnson and Schilling were 13-2 at this point. This season, they’re 2-4.
“This has been mind-boggling,” manager Bob Brenly said.
After a 5-5 homestand, the Diamondbacks are 15-20 and 10 games behind first-place San Francisco as they begin a trip that will see them visit Philadelphia after Pittsburgh. The team realizes it can’t afford to lose any more ground in the standings, regardless of what lineup it’s able to field.
“We need to go out and have a good road trip,” Mark Grace said.
Having Schilling on the mound will likely help Arizona’s chances to get the trip off to a good start, despite the fact he struggled in his first outing after his surgery. The right-hander allowed five runs and eight hits— including a season-worst two home runs—in a 7-6 win over Atlanta last Saturday.
The Diamondbacks will have some momentum on their side entering Friday’s game as they’ve had double-digit hits in eight of their last 11 games. By taking two of three from Philadelphia this week, they come off their second series win of the season.
The team is hoping shortstop Alex Cintron, who led the Pacific Coast League in hitting at .393 when he was called up to replace Counsell, can spark the offense.
Pittsburgh returns home after a 10-game road trip that started with a three-game sweep at San Diego, but ended with six straight defeats. The Pirates’ skid is their longest since a seven-game slide last Aug. 10-16.
“It’s been a tough combination for us,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We haven’t hit well with runners in scoring position and our bullpen certainly hasn’t pitched to its capabilities.”
STANDINGS: Diamondbacks - 4th place, 10 GB, NL West. Pirates - 5th place, 5 GB, NL Central.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Schilling (1-2, 5.01 ERA). The 16-year veteran has made 20 career starts against the Pirates, going 13-6 with a 2.83 ERA.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff D’Amico (2-3, 3.41 ERA). D’Amico pitched well enough to earn a win in his last start, but took the loss in a 3-2 defeat at Los Angeles on May 4. He allowed three runs—two earned—and five hits over seven innings. D’Amico is 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in five career starts against the Diamondbacks.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Diamondbacks - Luis Gonzalez, .323 avg., 8 HRs, 20 RBIs and 21 runs; Counsell, 5 SBs. Pirates - Jason Kendall, .295 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 6 HRs; Randall Simon and Sanders, 18 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 19 runs and 6 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Diamondbacks, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Diamondbacks - 2B Junior Spivey has a 10-game hitting streak. … SS Tony Womack is batting just .194 with a .211 on-base percentage this season. He is 4-for-10 against RHP D’Amico in his career. … OF Gonzalez is hitting just .222 (2-for-9) in his career against RHP D’Amico. Pirates - 1B Simon is hitting .500 (5-for-10) in his career against RHP Schilling. … OF Brian Giles has team-best totals of two home runs and five RBIs in his career against RHP Schilling, but is hitting just .179 (5-for-28) over that span. … 2B Pokey Reese is 5-for-5 in steal attempts this season, and is 17-for-18 in the last two seasons.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 6-9 on the road; Pirates - 4-11 at home.
INJURIES: Diamondbacks - IF Counsell (thumb), 15-day DL; LHP Johnson (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Kim (ankle), 15-day DL; LHP Stephen Randolph (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Bret Prinz (groin), 60-day DL. Pirates - RHP Josh Fogg (abdominal), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; IF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL.