2018 Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 Arizona Diamondbacks / Franchise: Arizona Diamondbacks / BR Team Page
Managed by Torey Lovullo
History, Comments, Contributions
After a strong season in 2017 that saw the team make it to the Division Series, the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks started the year even stronger. They won nine straight series to open the season, a feat unseen in the National League since the 1907 Chicago Cubs, who had gone on to win 107 games and the World Series. They finished April at 20-8, second-best record in the majors and 8 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been favored to repeat once again as division winners before the season started. The D-Backs had won 6 of 7 meetings with the Dodgers in the month, contributing to building that early lead, and they had ended the month with an 8-5 win over their main rival behind the first three-homer game of A.J. Pollock's career. Pollock was named the National League Player of the Month inr ecognition of his early-season heroics.
The Diamondbacks had brought joy to the hearts of fans nostalgic for the 1970s - not that the D-Backs had even existed back then, mind you - by announcing they would be bringing back the contraption known as a bullpen cart. It took six weeks, but on May 5th, it was finally used in a game when it conveyed Houston Astros reliever Collin McHugh to the mound when he entered the game to start the bottom of the 6th inning. The vehicle had been available since the start of the season, but no reliever had opted to use it until then.
The D-Backs hit a blip when they they were swept at home by the Washington Nationals during a four-game series on May 10-13, part of a six-game losing streak. They were still entrenched in first place, but on May 14th, CF Pollock broke his thumb while attempting a diving catch in the outfield. The initial prognosis was that he would miss four to eight weeks, and replacing his enormous production was likely to be a huge challenge. Indeed, the losing continued over the next week and after having been swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series May 21-23, their record stood at 25-24 and they had fallen to second place behind the Colorado Rockies. Those three losses meant they had now lost 13 of 14 games as everything had suddenly fallen apart. In addition to the loss of Pollock, the D-Backs had also had to put spring training acquisition OF Steven Souza back on the DL, only a couple of weeks after he had finally made his debut just as the losing began. With SP Taijuan Walker out for the season and Robbie Ray also hurt, the team was missing a lot of key elements. They went 8-19 in May, almost reverse of their 20-8 record in March/April. They finished the month one game above .500 and a game and a half back of the Rockies.
On June 1st, in what the D-Backs hoped was a harbinger of a recovery, they tied a club record by hitting six homers in a 9-1 win over the Miami Marlins. The homer barrage was in support of Clay Buchholz who logged his first win in almost two years in his comeback from a torn tendon that had cost him almost an entire season. They had scored 12 runs in a win against the Cincinnati Reds on May 28th that had lifted them back above .500 after hitting the mark the previous day, so there were some signs that the offense was finally coming around again after sputtering for most of May. Indeed, Arizona won 6 of its first 8 games in June to climb back to 5 games over .500 and take 2.5 game lead on June 9th. During that stretch, 1B Paul Goldschmidt went on a tremendous hit streak, going 13 for 18 with 4 homers in four games. He was named the NL Player of the Month for June, as his bat never cooled off. On July 7th, the D-Backs set a franchise record by scoring 20 runs in a 20-5 rout of the San Diego Padres; the previous club mark was 18, dating back to the 2014 season.
Awards and Honors
- Associated Press: "Buoyed by 2017 success, Diamondbacks expect to contend", USA Today Sports, March 22, 2018. 
- Steve Gilbert: "D-backs take aim at next-level success: Arizona eyes more after reaching NLDS last season", mlb.com, March 6, 2018.