Two months ago, the D-backs were leading the National League West and, even with the streaking Dodgers trailing close behind, looked poised for a postseason run.
Now, Arizona is in need of nothing short of a miracle for a Wild Card bid, nine games back and falling further out of the playoff picture as the Nationals challenge the Reds for the NL's last postseason slot. But a late run can't start without a win, and the D-backs will be looking for something to break their recent slump against the Rockies at Chase Field on Saturday night.
The Rockies are again battling their usual woes on the road, Friday night's 7-5 victory improving them to just 2-5 on their final multi-city trip of the year.
Long removed from any talk of the postseason, the Rockies will mostly be thinking about next season when veteran Roy Oswalt (0-5, 8.57 ERA) makes his first start since July 7. Manager Walt Weiss said Oswalt's remaining work -- likely two and no more than three starts -- will help them evaluate if and how he fits onto next year's roster.
Oswalt made his first appearance since pulling his left hamstring, allowing five runs over 3 1/3 innings on Sunday behind starting pitcher Chad Bettis. He did throw two scoreless innings, but the Padres busted him up with a four-run seventh that propelled them to a 5-2 win.
"My arm strength was a little bit down as far as velocity, but I felt OK," Oswalt said after he returned to a Major League mound.
But Oswalt could be the benefactor of an Arizona lineup that before Friday's game posted four runs or fewer in 14 straight games, one shy of the club record set a decade ago.
Left-hander Wade Miley (9-10, 3.73) has felt the effects of that stagnant offense, eyeing his first win since Aug. 6. Miley has slipped up with a 4.42 ERA in his last six starts, but he's shut down Colorado, going 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA in two starts against the club.
The lefty's recent numbers spiked after he allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings Sept. 3, but he recovered nicely by surrendering two runs in seven strong innings in a loss to the Giants Sunday.
If Miley can position Arizona for victory, the lead will likely be in the safe hands of closer Brad Ziegler, who hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances (six innings).
"He's a pretty smart guy, he's a pretty smart pitcher, he's got good stuff and he's different than they're going to see all game," D-backs manger Kirk Gibson said of Ziegler's submarine delivery.
Rockies: Arenado already proving durability
Nolan Arenado didn't play in his first big league game until April 28, but he's played in all but one game since.
Arenado's 123 appearances are the most of any Rockies player, his Gold Glove-level defense at third and strong offensive numbers making it tough for manager Walt Weiss to sit the rookie. He's hitting .268 with 10 homers, 49 RBIs and 46 runs, and his 122 hits and 186 total bases lead all rookies.
"I've certainly run him out there a lot. He's a guy that wants to be out there every day, even through the tough stuff," Weiss said. "He never wants a day off. I've picked a few spots here and there when I feel like the game is beating him up a little bit, but even those games I'll usually put him in the game to play defense because he's so good over there."
D-backs: Owings finally getting shot at big leagues
Before this season, Chris Owings was the sixth-best prospect in the Arizona organization according to MLB.com.
But he's shooting up such lists after posting outstanding numbers in his first season in Triple-A, named both the Pacific Coast League MVP and Rookie of the Year. Owings' 180 hits were the second most of any Minor League player, and he closed the year hitting .330 with 12 homers and 81 RBIs, also leading the PCL with 104 runs and 263 total bases.
Since he got his first big league callup Sept. 3, Owings is hitting .313 (5-for-16) with a .421 on-base percentage.
• Arizona's pitching staff has a 3.85 ERA this season, third lowest in franchise history.
• Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-5 with an RBI in Friday's win to extend his career-high hitting streak to 13 games.
• Wilin Rosario has five hits, including a homer, a double and three RBIs, in 11 career at-bats against Miley. He had two hits and tied his career high with four RBIs on Friday night.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.