Cards' win knocks D-backs out of playoff picture

Cards' win knocks D-backs out of playoff picture

Cards' win knocks D-backs out of playoff picture
PHOENIX -- Armed with a bolstered roster and a young pitching crop the envy of most big league clubs, the D-backs entered the 2012 season with a heap of expectations placed on their shoulders.

The potential, however, never quite panned out.

Even though the club won on Friday night, 8-3, against the Cubs, the D-backs were eliminated from postseason contention as the Cardinals won in St. Louis, 12-2, over the Nationals.

"When it's all said and done, the best teams are going to go to the playoffs," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I have no problem saying that. We weren't good enough to be one of those teams this year. It wasn't from a lack of effort. You can dissect it a million different ways. They were better than us. We'll watch, learn and reload."

One of the biggest differences between 2011 and 2012 for the D-backs was that the club never went on a prolonged winning streak. The most games the team won in a row this year was five, while last season the D-backs put together runs of six, seven, seven and nine straight over the course of their campaign.

"We never put together that really strong run, sometimes that happens," outfielder Justin Upton said. "We knew we were a good team all year, we're a very talented team. You battle every night, but sometimes the chips don't fall your way. You learn from it, though."

With five games remaining until the club closes up shop for 2012, the D-backs insist they'll continue to play with the same effort as they would if they were in the postseason.

"We play for pride, we don't go out there and ever give up or roll over," Upton said. "We know we're done after Wednesday, but you have to play the game the right way."

The D-backs need two more wins to guarantee a .500 record this season, something the team believes could help them moving into next year.

"It's really important, you want to finish off on a good note," right-hander Ian Kennedy said. "It really helps when you start winning games at the end of the year and build off it."

Earlier on Friday, Gibson said he would only pencil the names of players into the lineup that will continue to turn in a full-effort performance every day.

"It's not you're eliminated and you throw it in, it doesn't operate that way," Gibson said. "The game of baseball is supposed to be fun, so let's go out there and play the game how it is supposed to be played."