Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson calls the next three weeks, “a heck of a streak.”
For all practical purposes, the coming days will not only put the season in perspective but likely provide clues to the Diamondbacks ultimate destiny this season.
That’s because Arizona plays 15 of its next 18 games on the road and some opponents could be teams destined for post-season play. Starting the trip, the D-backs held a two game lead over San Francisco and Colorado atop the NL Western Division.
Following Monday’s doubleheader against Texas at home, the caliber of opponents include a home-and-home set with the Rangers, four with the Cardinals in St. Louis, three with the unpredictable Dodgers in Los Angeles and three with the Giants at Chase Field, their only break from playing road warriors.
“The schedule is tough and very competitive,” Gibson said before Monday’s doubleheader. “We’re ready. The guys prepare well, bought into what we want to do here and are efficient in utilizing our resources.”
By the numbers, the Diamondbacks have a better road record than at home.
After Monday’s doubleheader sweep of the Rangers, the D-backs were 16-12 in games at Chase Field and 14-10 in road games.
Still, the nuances of unfamiliar surroundings could be influential. Plus, playing in houses with rabid fans, like Busch Stadium in St. Louis, could be taxing.
“Each stadium is different and each present unique challenges,” Gibson added. “There’s a difference about day game at Wrigley Field and a night game. In Arlington (Texas), the wind tends to shoot up the middle and create a tunnel. Hitters try and go up the middle there and we also play at Fenway Park.”
The trip to Boston is the first weekend in August and precedes a stop at Tropicana Field for a two games set against the Rays.
Aside from the plethora of road games, Gibson also cited the nature of the schedule.
“This year, we get the American League East teams and that’s one of the most competitive divisions,” he said. “Generally, we feel good about ourselves but the key is remain on an even keel. Each game is not a do or die situation and we just have to be ready to play that day and next day.”
After the Diamondbacks conclude the up-coming crunch for 15 road games in 18 contests, the schedule resumes with six games for three each with the Reds and Marlins in Chase Field.
Then, back out on the road for 10 straight with stops in Washington, Atlanta and New York with the Mets.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Completing a home-and home set with the Rangers, the Diamondbacks open their road odyssey Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas.
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (2-3, 4.30 ERA) takes on righty Justin Grimm (4-3, 4.05) and Wade Miley (3-4, 4.53) opposes left-hander Derek Holland (4-2, 2.97) Thursday afternoon.
Then, it’s on the Wrigley Field for three games this weekend.
Right-hander Ian Kennedy (2-3, 4.70), held back one start because of a laceration to his right index finger, opens the series against the Cubs. He’ll be opposed by righty Matt Garza (0-1, 4.00)
Patrick Corbin (8-0, 1.71 ERA) and Trevor Cahill (2-3, 2.88) follow Kennedy to the hill and conclude the Cubs series.