After a disastrous homestand, the Arizona Diamondbacks are no doubt glad to be hitting the road for a week.
The Diamondbacks (35-31) lost 8-2 to San Francisco on Thursday, ending a 1-9 homestand and falling a game behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West. Arizona was outscored 78-24 by Philadelphia, the New York Mets and San Francisco during the stretch.
“It was ugly,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “It was embarrassing. We’re all embarrassed.”
The poor play of Melvin’s team may also have to do with controversy that marred the homestand. The Diamondbacks are 1-8 since learning June 6 that federal agents had searched reliever Jason Grimsley’s home as part of an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs. The team released Grimsley the next day.
On Thursday, left fielder Luis Gonzalez called a press conference two hours before the game after Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick told a newspaper there have been “whispers” about whether the five-time All-Star used performance-enhancing drugs. Kendrick did not accuse Gonzalez of using drugs, but Gonzalez was upset that his name was attached to the controversy by the team’s top executive.
“It’s unfortunate that I almost have to sit here today to defend myself for no reason,” he said.
The Diamondbacks also released underachieving starter Russ Ortiz during the homestand and will eat about $22 million remaining on his contract. Arizona had swept a four-game series with Atlanta went 7-3 on its road trip before the 10 straight games at Chase Field.
“It’s been bad,” said Melvin, whose team is playing its first interleague series of the season. “Good time for a road trip.”
Webb (8-1, 2.06 ERA) is looking to bounce back from his first loss. He allowed four runs—one earned—and eight hits in eight innings of Saturday’s 5-0 defeat to the New York Mets.
Despite the loss, Webb’s major league-best ERA dropped from 2.14.
“It was a nice start,” he said. “I’m not going to win every game and go undefeated.”
Webb, who has never faced Texas, can match the major league lead for wins in Friday’s series opener. He will face Kevin Millwood (7-3, 4.54), who allowed two runs in six innings of the Rangers’ 5-4 defeat to Boston on Sunday, and did not receive a decision.
Millwood has won his last four decisions and has not lost since giving up nine runs in 1 1-3 innings of a 15-5 defeat to Minnesota on May 9. He has struggled at home this season, going 2-3 with a 7.23 ERA in seven starts at Ameriquest Field.
Millwood, though, has dominated the Diamondbacks in eight starts, going 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA—his best ERA against any NL team.
The Rangers (35-32) have dropped six of nine, including Thursday’s 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Texas fell out of first place in the AL West for the first time since May 19 and trails Oakland by a half-game.
“The standings are what we’re judged by,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Oakland’s playing real well right now. But there’s a long way to go.”
Showalter managed the Diamondbacks from 1998-2000, their first three seasons. In 1999, he led Arizona to a 100-62 record and the NL West title, and will be managing against them for the first time since taking over the Rangers in 2003.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished there,” Showalter said. “I had some great relationships and worked with a lot of quality people. It was great to be a part of it.”