It has not been a fun few days in Arizona.
On Thursday night the last-place club cleaned house, firing both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. Then, in an effort to pump new blood and excitement into the franchise, bench coach and 1988 World Series legend Kirk Gibson was named the Diamondbacks’ next manager.
Fast forward to Saturday night. The Diamondbacks committed a franchise-high six errors in a 14-1 loss to the division rival Dodgers and fell further out of contention in the National League West. Now 32-49, the underachieving D’Backs are 16 games out of first place.
It gets a tad worse. In the second inning Saturday, as clearly seen by this MLB.com video, Dodgers outfielder Xavier Paul drew a walk on only three balls against Arizona starter Rodrigo Lopez. Three balls. Not four. Three. That mistake triggered a six-run inning and the Gibson-led team was unable to overcome. When it rains, it pours.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.