The Diamondbacks on several occasions held the Cincinnati Reds up as the measuring stick for both where they are as a team and where they can go in the future.
Kirk Gibson commented on how his opponent capitalized on little mistakes even though he thought his own team played well in the series and scored enough runs. In the end he said, the Reds simply, "out-played us".
"You can look right over there and see how far we've got to go," Gibby said. "They weren't very good last year but they're darn good this year so sometimes it seems like we're far away, we're really not."
Chris Young, who I guess is the de facto leader of this team, expressed a similar idea, "You sit back and watch the game afterwards and you watch them and you watch how they play the game and you see why they're a first-place team. You watch the small things they do - base running, defense - you take a little bit from them, you try and learn from it."
That leader thing...big hole on this team even though there are a lot of quality individuals. There's still no one in the club house to rally the boys and speak up for the team.
One guy who put on a brave show and did his individual part was starting pitcher Joe Saunders.
Gibby reported that Saunder was sick last few days but never came to his manager and expressed the need to possibly be replaced in the rotation.
Gibby thought he pitched well up to the three-run home run to Ramon Hernandez in the fourth which killed him.
"He struggled but competed well given the circumstances," The soft-spoken manager said. "He toed the rubber. He probably wouldn't tell you. In his last inning I was really proud of him. He really competed that last inning."
Joe explained what happened on that pitch, "It wasn't a bad pitch, just the wrong pitch. Probably should have thrown him something off-speed there...It kills me that I wasn't thinking right at the time. You live and you learn."
Not mentioned was the inexperienced catcher or the lack of experience with Hester and Saunders working together.
Joe downplayed his illness only saying, "I don't want to say the word on air, just some not very good bowel movement."
The error by Rusty Ryal in left field in the eighth inning stands out as well but Gibby wasn't willing to put too much on that play, "Rusty made the error; the guy busts his tail everyday and we've got to pick him up."
At the time of the error it was a 4-1 game with two outs.
The ball clearly should have been caught but Gibby is right. The problem wasn't so much the error as the two walks, two singles and the double that followed it. Those five runs technically are unearned but Carrasco and Noberto didn't do their team any favors.
Offensively, the D-backs plated four runs in the eight but at that point with a 9-1 lead you have to assume some of that is just sloppy pitching with a big lead.
The real trouble was the Diamondbacks failure to capitalize on two leadoff doubles.
"That's hard, that's takes it out of you when you get a guy on and you don't get him over and get him in," Gibby said.
It's a frustrating times to be a D-backs fan but I am more and more convinced that the trades at the deadline will help in the long run and with a couple of smart moves this team can be back in the mix next year.