April 10, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks have apparently needed more time to warm up, falling behind in six of their first seven games before their bats got going.

Arizona has wasted little time in getting up to speed this season, matching its best start as a franchise behind a powerful, late-starting offense, timely pitching and an enthusiasm that spreads across the clubhouse.

''When we have a lot of good moments, when things really go in our direction, that becomes contagious,'' Diamondbacks first-year manager Torey Lovullo said. ''We're doing a lot of good things, doing a lot of things right on a daily basis.''

Few outside Arizona's clubhouse expected this.

The Diamondbacks shook up their leadership, luring Mike Hazen away from the Boston Red Sox to replace Dave Stewart as general manager. Hazen brought in Lovullo, previously Boston's bench coach, to manage the team after Chip Hale was fired.

They did little to change the roster, entering this season with, for the most part, the same team that lost 95 games last season.

The affable Lovullo said he loved this team coming out of spring training despite the lukewarm prognostications and the Diamondbacks made him look prophetic by going 6-1, matching the 2000 team for the best start in franchise history, during the first week of the season.

''You always want to get off to a good start,'' Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin said. ''It's something we haven't done really since I've been here. I think it's important to keep things rolling. Guys are very confident right now so we've got to continue growing.''

Arizona's offense always seems to be good and finished third in the National League in runs scored.

This season has gotten off to a roaring start, even by their ball-crushing standards.

Through Sunday's 3-2 victory over Cleveland, the Diamondbacks led the major leagues in runs - a franchise-record 48 through seven games - hits, RBIs, average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They were also hitting .422 with runners in scoring position and .375 with two outs.

Arizona won three of four against their Chase Field nemesis, the San Francisco Giants, then swept the Indians, the reigning American League champions.

''We're really not worrying about last year or anything,'' outfielder A.J. Pollock said. ''We're just going out and playing good baseball, playing good tough baseball with pitching, defense and hitting.''

The pitching has helped fuel their fantastic start.

Arizona failed to have a quality start five times in its first six games but the bullpen shut opponents down, leading to five wins in those games. Shelby Miller, Zach Greinke and Corbin each earned victories in Arizona's last three wins.

The Diamondbacks entered Monday's game with baseball's 10th-best ERA at 3.57 and they shut down the Indians over the weekend, holding them to seven total runs.

''I think it starts in our starting pitchers,'' Corbin said. ''If we can go out and pitch deep in the ball game, we know offensively how good we are and defensively. And the bullpen's done a great job as well. So if we can just keep things rolling and keep things clicking it should be good.''

Sustaining this success will be the key.

A winning first week represents 4 percent of the entire 162-game schedule. The last time the Diamondbacks started 6-1, they finished a respectable 88-77, but were 12 games out of first in the NL West and missed the playoffs.

Arizona kicked off a 10-game road trip against NL West opponents on Monday with a 4-1 loss to the Giants.

''We're in a good place right now,'' Lovullo said. ''We've got to earn the respect of the National League. We have to keep playing good baseball to get the fans to back us. We know they're there. We know they're supporting us. Hopefully we can keep this thing rolling and fill this thing up the rest of the year.''


More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)