When the doors to the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse opened after their 15-1 loss to the Oakland A’s Tuesday, catcher Chris Snyder was the only player in front of his locker. Brandon Webb left the building without talking to reporters after allowing seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Justin Upton was in the showers after striking out two more times.
Their teammates were scattered about, surely wondering if the season had hit its low point.
They had better hope so.
Make no mistake, the Diamondbacks are in trouble.
Sure, they have the good fortune of playing in the National League West, the only division where you can be just three games over .500 and still have a 4 1/2 game lead.
But this is a team in crisis. Arizona is 14-22 in its last 36 games. It can’t score runs, its defense stinks and now the starting pitching has gone AWOL.
In the last three games the Diamondbacks have been outscored, 35-7, and two of those losses were to Kansas City, which has the second-worst record in baseball.
So much for those two wins in New York supposedly turning things around.
“You can put away one bad loss, but we haven’t played well three games in a row,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a concern.”
Don’t worry about Webb. Both Melvin and Snyder thought he had great stuff and that his velocity had returned after a subpar outing against the Mets. It was just an atypical performance at a bad time.
The bigger concern is Upton, whose average is down to .244 after he was hitting .327 at the end of April.
The D-Backs have been extraordinarily patient with Upton, but it’s time they demote him to Triple-A Tucson, be it today or, more likely, when Eric Byrnes returns from the disabled list on Monday.
Upton, 20, is 3-for-36 this month with one extra-base hit, no RBIs and 18 strikeouts. He’s 4 for his last 66 on the road.
Clearly, Upton has lost his confidence. A trip to Tucson would do him and his swing good.
“We’re not there yet,” Melvin said. “He’s a pretty strong and resilient kid.”
Maybe so, but Arizona can’t afford for Upton to completely lose faith in himself and not be able to help the club come September.
That’s assuming, of course, the Diamondbacks are still in the pennant race come September. Right now, they look like a team that could fade into oblivion.
“No one is going to push the panic button,” Conor Jackson said. “We still have a lot of baseball left.”
Given the way Arizona has played since April, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The Diamondbacks never will admit this, but they miss Tony Clark’s calming presence and leadership in the clubhouse. He would have been the shoulder Upton and Chris Young leaned on, the veteran to call a players-only meeting and quietly demand accountability.
Instead, you’re left to wonder where that leadership is coming from. Snyder has tried to assume the role, but he hasn’t been around long enough for teammates to ask him for advice.
All is not lost, though. When reliever Doug Slaten struck out the 13th A’s batter Tuesday, the public address announcer at Chase Field enthusiastically announced that fans had won a coupon for a free 44-ounce Thirstbuster.
After 15-1, they could have used a shot of the harder stuff.