If the Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping to contend for the NL West title, this weekend would be a good time to show it.
The second-place Diamondbacks get a chance to move closer to the first-place San Diego Padres when the teams begin a four-game series at Petco Park.
Arizona limped into the All-Star break by losing of 25 of 38 games. Despite the extended slide, the Diamondbacks are just 5 1/2 games behind the Padres and in position to make a move.
“We’ve done OK,” Arizona third baseman Troy Glaus said. “Not phenomenal, but not terrible either. We’ve been OK. We just need to get a little more consistency going. We’ve definitely left some wins on the table.”
Offense has been a huge problem for Arizona, which has scored a total of 14 runs over its last seven games. The Diamondbacks will try to get their bats going at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where Arizona managed just nine runs in losing two of three to San Diego from April 29-May 1.
Glaus, in his first year with Arizona, has solid power numbers with a team-high 19 homers and 53 RBIs, but is batting just .256. Fellow newcomer Shawn Green is mired in a 5-for-22 slide over his last six games.
The Diamondbacks are hitting .257 for the year—worst among NL West teams.
“I think we feel like we are capable of more,” veteran first baseman Tony Clark said. “I don’t think that we’ve played our best baseball yet.”
“I’d hate to think about where we’d be if we didn’t have these guys to come in,” said second baseman Mark Loretta, who hasn’t played since jamming his left thumb on May 17 against Atlanta. “It’s impressive. These guys are quality major league players that have prepared themselves and have been ready for this opportunity. That’s what it takes.”
Loretta is set to be activated next week and first baseman Phil Nevin, who is second on the team with 47 RBIs, is also out. Catcher Ramon Hernandez returned shortly before the All-Star break and shortstop Khalil Greene missed time in April.
That has made the contributions of the backups even more important. Sweeney is hitting .292, Fick is at .316 while playing numerous positions and Jackson is batting .292 with 11 steals.
“The best thing about what we do is we have guys on the bench who are hungry to play,” Sweeney said. “And sometimes you get guys on the bench who are all right playing sporadically or sometimes not even at all. It’s just one of those things. You’ve got to have that feeling, ‘I’ve got to do this.”’