2014 Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Arizona Diamondbacks / Franchise: Arizona Diamondbacks / BR Team Page
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks opened their season with a two-game series against division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23. The 34-hour round-trip was preceded by some bad news, as P Patrick Corbin, an All-Star in 2013 and scheduled to start the season opener down under, was diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament just before departure and was out for the season. Still, the D-Backs were happy to make the long trip, led by minor league P Ryan Rowland-Smith, himself Australian and finally able to showcase the game he plays for a living in front of friends and family. Things did not go as planned for the Snakes, though, as they lost both contests, 3-1 and 7-5. New acquisition Mark Trumbo, who drove in 4 runs, and 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who had 4 hits, were the team's two best offensive players. In a strange twist, 11 different pitchers were used in the two games, but not Rowland-Smith.
Back in the USA, the Diamondbacks fell to 0-3 before winning for the first time on April 1st, when they defeated the San Francisco Giants, 5-4, with Wade Miley, who had lost the season opener in Australia, getting the win in spite of giving up four 1st-inning runs and new acquisition Addison Reed picking up the save. However, they then lost their next three games, including a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Rockies on April 4th, to fall to 1-6; only the 1998 edition of the team, created by expansion, which had lost its first five games, had started a season with such a poor mark. Goldschmidt was still the main bright light, as he had extended his hitting streak, started the previous year, to 26 games in spite of the losing. The team then blew a 4-0 lead in the next game to lose 9-4 to the Rockies as Goldschmidt's streak ended; their 1-7 start was now unchallenged for worst in team history. They continued to struggle over the next 10 days, and after a 9-0 loss to the New York Mets on April 15th, were at 4-13, with 4 more losses than the next worst team and matching the pace set in their expansion season; they had lost 7 straight games at Chase Field at that point.
On April 23rd, the D-Backs still had the worst record in the majors at 5-18 when they impersonated the Kansas City Packers of the defunct Federal League in a game marking the 100th anniversary of the first major league game played at Wrigley Field, back when it was the home of the Chicago Chi-Feds and known as "Weeghman Park". The D-Backs appeared to be easy marks for the Cubs that day, as they trailed 5-2 heading into the top of the 9th, but they took advantage of wildness by closer Pedro Strop, an error on a potential double play grounder, and a couple of lucky bounces to put together an unlikely five-run outburst, capped by a two-out, two-run triple by Aaron Hill for a 7-5 win, spoiling the Cubs' party. The D-Backs had an offensive outburst on May 17th when they set franchise records for hits, runs and extra-base hits in the game. Facing Clayton Kershaw, who had beat them on opening day in Sydney, they chased him with a seven-run 2nd inning and kept on piling the hits, even though the Dodgers tried a comeback with a five-run 6th inning, getting rookie starter Chase Anderson out of the game. In all, they compiled 21 hits and 13 extra-base hits in the 18-7 win, hitting 5 homers. Goldschmidt had two of the homers and 6 RBIs.
Overall, though, the season was one huge disappointment on the field, as the D-Backs spent all season battling with the Colorado Rockies to keep out of the NL West cellar. Their best player, Goldschmidt, saw his season end on August 1st when his hand was broken by a pitched ball. The season was one of major front office changes however. The first was the hiring of Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa as team President on May 17th. He oversaw a complete housecleaning in September, firing GM Kevin Towers on September 5th. On the 25th, LaRussa announced the hiring of Dave Stewart as GM and DeJon Watson as Vice-President for baseball operations, and the following day dismissed manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell, although, in a strange twist, he asked Trammell to stay on as interim manager for the team's final three games. The D-Backs won one of their last three games and finished with the worst record in the majors.
Awards and Honors
- Bob Nightengale: "D'backs foster proper Aussie attitude", USA Today Sports, March 16, 2014.