Through difficult times, Lovullo remains optimistic and hopeful

PHOENIX — For the Arizona Diamondbacks, the past few weeks have not been terribly pleasant. The ability to win at home is nearly nonexistent and the team continues to drop precipitously in the National League West Division standings.

While manager Torey Lovullo cautions observers not to pull the plug, he reminds listeners that his team has yet to play its best baseball this season. At this point, that task seems formidable. The starting rotation remains in disarray and the bullpen appears cemented in mediocrity.  The offense, while explosive one night and nearly silent another night, is not as consistent as Lovullo would like and the run production, from game to game, is uneven.

All of which could weigh heavily upon Lovullo, the decision-maker between the white lines and a stabling force in the clubhouse. While Lovullo cannot hide wearing emotions on sleeves, he is resigned to the fact his team will catch fire. As a result of Saturday’s 7-4 loss to San Francisco and the team’s six straight defeat, the Diamondbacks remain a distance behind the West-leading Dodgers but, surprisingly, only 2.5 games out of a wild-card position.

“I’m doing all right,” Lovullo told Fancred before Saturday’s game. “I think about the game just like everyone else and I hurt for these guys. I know the effort they’re putting out and it’s just not me I’m hurting for but I’m hurting for every coach, I’m hurting for every player, and for everybody under my umbrella. I have a responsibility and much of what I said last year is, when there is rough water, I need to get up on the bridge and keep that ship on the right course. That’s what I do every single day.”

Numbers in the standings may be encouraging to some but the reality is the Diamondbacks lack of execution at critical times. Though only two-plus games back in the wild-card standings, two defeats last week to the West-division rivals Colorado Rockies prove a case in point.

On June 19, Zack Greinke, considered the titular head of the staff, could not hold a 2-0 lead, unraveled in the seventh, surrendered three runs in that innings and took a 6-4 loss. In a game the following day, closer Greg Holland entered in the ninth and held a 4-3 lead. Holland promptly walked two and gave a tying single to pinch hitter Tony Wolters, In the 10th, Yoshihisa Hirano sandwiched two walks between a single and eventually gave up a two-run, game-winning single to Chris Iannetta.

This is the kind of execution at critical times which Lovullo’s players must avoid.

“My vision is very clear and hasn’t changed,” Lovullo said. “Every once in a while, it’s a little foggy through frustration, and I experience that. I am a human being, but I have to get ready each and every day to give my best effort. But, we’re not feeling a great sense of urgency. Things can turn in a hurry and we can make an about-face.”

On the diamond ...

Patience for starter Zack Godley seems to be at an end. After numerous chances to pitch himself out of a season-long slump, Godley may have made the decision for the Diamondbacks a relatively easy one.

In absorbing the 7-4 defeat to the Giants before 32,082 on David Peralta bobble-head night Saturday, Godley surrendered five runs on nine hits in just four innings of work.  Having thrown 70, and 47 for strikes, Godley exited amid a chorus of staining boos. His record dropped to 3-5 and his ERA currently stands at 6.82.

After Saturday’s game, Godley told reporters it’s all about doing the right thing.

“It’s just pitch execution,” Godley told Fancred. “I didn’t execute on the pitches the way I should have, and they made me pay for it. No, I don’t think I’m pressing, and I feel really, really relaxed. I have to continue to work and continue to get better. I have reaccess and try and figure the best strep for me to take now and see where they want me to be.”

Off the field …

After Ketel Marte left Friday night’s game with a left groin cramp, the Diamondbacks gained infield assurance and called up infielder Domingo Leyba from Triple AAA Reno. In a corresponding roster move, they optioned first baseman Kevin Cron to Reno.

Reno field manager Chris Cron pulled Leyba aside during the third inning of the Aces’ eventual 5-1 victory over Albuquerque Friday night and told the native of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic that he was called to The Show. Leyba, who makes his major league debut when first called upon, hit .289 with 24 doubles, triples, 10 homers and 42 RBIs over 66 games for the Aces this season.

“My family told me they thought something was happening because they took me out in early in the game (on Friday night),” Leyba said in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game. “I’m living the dream right now, and it’s just a miracle.”

Leyba entered Saturday’s game as a pinch hitter and singled down the left field line against Giants’ reliever Mark Melancon with one out in the sixth.

Because Marte is listed day-to-day and the infield could be a flux, Lovullo discounted the notion that Jake Lamb’s current rehab at Reno could be accelerated. At this point, the Diamondbacks have no plan to bring Lamb on to the 25-man roster until he medically cleared.

In a minor trade on Saturday, the Diamondbacks acquired right-hander Ben Lively from Kansas City and assigned the native of Pensacola, Fla. to Reno. Over parts of three seasons, Lively has a record 4-10 and an ERA of 4.80 with the Phillies and Royals. In return, Kansas City received cash considerations.

Next …

After the current series against the Giants that concludes Sunday afternoon, the Diamondbacks now have five of their next eight games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is a good chance the Diamondbacks will face Walker Buhler (8-1, 2.95 ERA) during the first series this week in Chase Field, and possibly Wednesday afternoon. The Diamondbacks then travel to Dodger Stadium for games on July 2 and 3, and in between, they are in San Francisco for three this coming weekend.