Pitcher Tyler Skaggs, after a solid showing at two stops in the D-Backs minor league system, was named the twelfth best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. You have to love his strikeout rate (198 in 158 1/3 innings which included ten starts at Double-A) and opponents hit just .218 against him. Throw in the fact that he’s left handed and turned 20 in July of last year and you can see why people are excited about this guy.
He was part of the Dan Haren deal and while Haren has had some solid seasons, I like the fact that we have this kid. He’s not a really hard throws but he has three really good pitches that he can use to get batters out. My guess is, he starts at Double-A again but he’s not there for long.
The Diamondbacks signed Joe Saunders to a one year, $6 million deal after letting Saunders test the waters last month. They didn’t offer him arbitration but they were still able to come to terms to bring Saunders back for another year. He was part of the deal that sent Dan Haren over to the Angels back in 2010.
Saunders is a reliable left hander and he went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA last year. He’s not a big strikeout guy and he always seems to win more games then you’d expect from someone who barely gets more then 100 strikeouts in a season but he has 69 major league wins. Last year he became a work horse of sorts with 212 innings.
The Diamondbacks completed their two year deal with outfielder Jason Kubel that will pay the outfielder $15 million. Prior to getting hit with the injury bug in 2011, Kubel had hit at least 20 homer runs in his previous three years. His best season was 2009 when he hit 28 home runs and finished with an OPS of .907.
Kubel is consistent. He draws some walks and that’s helped him garner a career OPS of .794. Target Field is a pitcher’s park as was the Metrodome to a point and he’s had OPS+’s of at least 105 in each of the past five seasons. He’s now moving to the more hitting friendly Chase Field so you’d expect his production to go up a bit. The money also seemed a bit more then I would have expected but in the end, the Diamondbacks got their guy.
Former Dodgers closer and Japanese pitcher Takashi Saito was scooped up by the Diamondbacks to a one year deal valued at $1.75 million. Saito came over to Japan and made his debut with the Dodgers where he pitched three seasons as the team’s closer. Since then, he’s bounced around and this will be his fourth team in four years.
Still, each of his stops have been solid although last year he threw only 26 2/3 innings for the Brewers. He’s also getting up there and he’ll turn 42 in February. Still, he has a career 2.18 ERA with 389 strikeouts and 103 walks in 326 innings. His strikeout rate was down considerable last year though so we’ll see if that’s a trend or a blip. Still, I like the deal and Saito should help out the Dodgers pen in 2012.
Here’s the top ten Diamondbacks prospect list as determined by Baseball America.
1) Trevor Bauer RHP
2) Archie Bradley RHP
3) Tyler Skaggs LHP
4) Jarrod Parker RHP
5) Matt Davidson 3b/1b
6) A.J. Pollock OF
7) David Holmberg LHP
8) Chris Owings SS
9) Wade Miley LHP
10) Patrick Corbin LHP
In early September, I thought Justin Upton was going to win the MVP award. He was the best player on a surprise team but then Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp stepped it up. I didn’t expect Upton to win the award, but to have Prince Fielder ahead of him is a little odd.
Upton did pick up a first place vote but he got no second place votes, eight third and eleven fourth place votes. He did get a vote on every ballot but his lowest pick was tenth place, which was really strange. The same thing happened to Fielder. He had a first place vote, but also a tenth place vote.
Ian Kennedy and Miguel Montero also picked up votes. Kennedy was named on four ballots and his best ballot had him sixth. Montero was on one ballot and he was ninth on that one.
Kirk Gibson walked away with the NL Manager of the Year in a well deserved award for the first year manager (at least first full season). He picked up 28 first place votes and four second and he was named on all 32 ballots. He finished well ahead of Ron Roenicke who was on 30 ballots with three first place votes.
The only other manager with a first place vote was Tony LaRussa. Oddly, Terry Collins picked up a third place votes as did Don Mattingly.
MILWAUKEE — The season that was not meant to be.
Arizona did what they have done all season long as they fought back from a 2-0 series deficit to send it back to Miller Park for a game five. Arizona even fought back late in the game when they were down a run in the ninth to tie the pivotal game five, sending it to extras. The only way this series was meant to conclude.
But Arizona’s magical season came to end in the tenth when Nyjer Morgan hit the game winning RBI-single up the middle into center field that scored Carlos Gomez and gave the Milwaukee Brewers their first playoff series win since 1982.
Arizona appeared ready for a date with St. Louis or Philadelphia when Justin Upton hit an opposite field solo home run to give the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. The pitching was fantastic in this game as were some of the defensive plays made that kept Arizona in this game till the very last out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Braun led the inning off with double as Prince Fielder was issued a walk to put the Brewers best power hitters on base with no outs.
Rickie Weeks attempted a sacrifice bunt, but it popped up and Arizona’s starter, Ian Kennedy, was able to run it down for the first out of the inning, looking Braun and Fielder back to their respective bases after the catch.
Then Chris Young continued his stellar play in center field as he has done all season. Jerry Hairston smacked a line drive shot to deep center field that looked like would get over the head of Young and score both Braun and Fielder, but, Young ran it down, catching it as he hit the center field wall as both Braun and Fielder were forced to retreat back to their respective bases again.
As the ninth inning opened, the Brewers faithful were louder than ever as Milwaukee was just three outs away from a trip to the NLCS.
But, Gerardo Parra quickly silenced the crowd as he swung at the first pitch from John Azford for a leadoff double, his first hit of the series. It could not have come at a better team for the D-backs.
Sean Burroughs hit a line drive single to Braun in left which advanced Parra to third as the D-backs now had the tying runner 90-feet from home with no-outs.
Manager Kirk Gibson then took a huge gamble with leadoff hitter, Willie Bloomquist. He ordered Bloomquist to put a bunt down and the suicide squeeze play worked out beautifully as Parra came in to score the tying run as both Fielder and Axford collided near the bunted ball.
David Hernandez, the D-backs reliever, had a perfect one-two-three ninth that sent game five into extras.
But Axford had a similar performance in the tenth to quickly get the Brewers’ back on the offensive side of the game.
It did not take long as Carlos Gomez hit a one out single to left to put the series clinching run on base. A pitch that got away from D-backs catcher Miguel Montero allowed Gomez to take second as the Brewers now had the winning run in scoring position with one-out.
Due up next was the loud and obnoxious Morgan who singled up the middle into center field as Gomez came streaking around the bases to score the Brewers winning run as the entire team celebrated on the field and fireworks concluded the hard fought series victory.
The end of the 2011 season may have a bitter taste to it now, but motivation will be a key factor for the D-backs next season. They have a great rotation with Kennedy at the helm. Paul Goldschmidt has proven he will be the everyday starting first baseman. And Upton and Young make up the outfield. The rest of the key positions seem to be filled and Gibson will find a way for these guys to stay motivated in 2012. Do not overlook the D-backs as some did this season, including myself, as they will compete in the postseason again next year. Signing off.
PHOENIX — Pack your bags because we are heading back to Miller Park for a game five.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have tied the best-of-five series two games all after dropping the first two in Milwaukee. Nothing like playing in front of your home crowd.
Earlier in the evening, St. Louis defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to send their series to a fifth game, as just one series ended without the pivotal game five; the series between Texas and Tampa Bay which ended in four.
For the second straight game, Arizona’s bats were lighting up Chase Field as the D-backs hit a second consecutive grand slam. That grand slam was one of four on the night for Arizona hitters.
Since coming home, Arizona is seeing the ball like it’s a beach ball. In the first two games at Miller Park, the D-backs had a batting average of .212, but at home they are batting an impressive .342. Kind of sucks they have to leave Chase Field.
Arizona is having all this success because they are jumping out in front of Milwaukee early, making them play catch-up from the first inning on.
In game three, Arizona grabbed a 2-0 lead after the first, in game four a grand slam by Ryan Roberts and a solo blast by Chris Young in the first put Arizona out in front 5-0. All Arizona had to do the rest of the game was keep the foot on the accelerator as Milwaukee did make an effort at a comeback, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
In addition, Arizona won this game because they kept both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in check, limiting them both to a combined 2-for-8 night.
However, this game could have been closer than most would believe if they did not watch the sixth-inning. Trailing 7-3, the Brewers had the bases loaded with one out and Cory Hart at the plate. Cory Hart swung at the first strike from relief pitcher, Bryan Shaw that appeared to be on its way out of the park for a game tying grand slam. However, it just missed as Gerardo Parra caught it on the warning track for a sacrifice fly. The Brewers failed to score another run that inning trailing 7-4 before Aaron Hill got that four run lead back on his solo home run in the bottom half of the inning.
After the stretch, Chris Young hit his second home run of the night, a deep blast to the fans in left field to give Arizona a 10-4 lead.
Milwaukee made things interesting as Carlos Gomez hit a two-run home run in the eighth to cut some of the deficit, but Arizona’s bullpen stopped any sort of rally the Brewers had in mind.
Despite J. J. Putz walk to Jerry Hairston to start the ninth, he retired the next three batters which included Braun, Fielder, and Rickie Weeks to end game four and send everyone back home to pack for the winner take all in game five.
Game five will be a rematch of game one with Ian Kennedy taking the mound Friday afternoon on plenty of rest. Kennedy has been the D-backs go to guy in these kind of situations all season and they look to him again. This time to pitch Arizona to the NLCS with a date against the Phillies or Cardinals.
PHOENIX — Home Sweet Home.
That is what most of the Arizona Diamondbacks players were thinking in their 8-1 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers in front of 48,312 at Chase Field. Arizona avoided the best-of-five sweep and for the time being, extended their season for one more night.
Arizona had lost four of their last five before Tuesday’s victory. In the first two games of the series, the D-backs scored five runs on fourteen hits. They scored eight runs on eleven hits, getting to Brewers starter, Shaun Marcum, early and often as they captured the interest of the fans till the final out.
Josh Collmenter was unhittable in his postseason start. He went seven innings, allowing just three hits, one that left the park on Cory Hart’s solo home run that would be the lone Milwaukee run. The Brewers power hitters, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, were limited to a one-for-six combined plate appearance. In games one and two, Braun and Fielder had gone a combined 9-for-16 or a .562 batting average. If you can limit those two threats in the Brewers lineup, everyone else seems to break down and you can almost guarantee a victory.
With Arizona’s season now at a do or die situation, they send Joe Saunders to the mound, as the D-backs hope he can pitch them back to Milwaukee for a winner take all game five in Miller Park. While Saunders is not the ideal man to go to, I would put in Ian Kennedy, he can deliver a win as Arizona would carry the momentum back to Milwaukee with their ace Kennedy on a weeks rest to pitch them to the NLCS.
The hero of the night though was the rookie, Paul Goldschmidt, who had a five-RBI performance.
In the first-inning, the D-backs jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Willie Bloomquist singled to start the night off right for Arizona’s offense. He later stole second during Aaron Hill’s at-bat putting himself in scoring position. The D-backs were not going to be victims of runners left on base again as Miguel Montero demonstrated by doubling home Bloomquist for Arizona’s first lead in this NLDS. Goldschmidt drove in the eventual game winning run with an RBI-single as Montero came around to score.
In the third, Arizona responded to the Hart home run as Montero hit an RBI-single to drive in Hill again, giving Arizona its two run lead back.
But even leading 3-1 in the fifth, no lead is safe against Milwaukee with the likes of Braun and Fielder in the lineup. That is why what happened in the bottom of the fifth put the nail in the coffin, sending this series to a game four.
Collmenter started the rally by lofting a beautiful 0-2 pitch in front of the Brewers right fielder. Bloomquist followed by singling to center, but the D-backs next two batters were retired as it seemed Arizona would let another key offensive inning slip away.
However, Marcum intentionally walked Montero to get to Goldschmidt who made him pay for that mistake.
Goldschmidt was down in the count, 1-2. But, Marcum and his catcher, Jonathan Lucroy were having trouble with the signs as it seemed several minutes before Marcum delivered his next pitch.
While Marcum and Lucroy did not seem to know what pitch was going to be thrown, Goldschmidt did as he made them both pay for the delay by smacking an inside fastball as Marcum threw his glove in the air as the ball cleared the right field fence for an opposite field grand slam to give Arizona a 7-1 lead.
The inning was not over and a pitching change did not change the tides as Chris Young singled to Jerry Hairston at third who over threw the ball to Fielder, allowing Young to take second. Young stole third with no play and Ryan Roberts drove him home with an RBI-single of his own as the D-backs scored five in the inning to take an 8-1 lead and victory over the NL Central champs.
Arizona lives on to tell another tale. After their bumpy end to the regular season and bumpy start to the postseason, this might be the signature win the D-backs use to go on a tear of the postseason. The last time Arizona dropped a significant number of games, they bounced back by winning nine straight to end the month of August. Saunders will have a solid effort tonight, sending this one back to Milwaukee for the pivotal game five.
MILWAUKEE — Arizona has dug themselves into a big hole.
The West champs offense came alive in game two of the NLDS, but their pitching was awful for the second straight night.
After giving up a five spot in the sixth to the Brewers, Arizona left Miller Park down 2-0 in the best-of-five series. The action will now shift to Phoenix where the Diamondbacks’ have played some of their best baseball as of late.
But, down two games to none, things are looking bleak for the D-backs. To advance to the next round, Arizona must win the next three.
In order to win game three though, Arizona’s pitching, which got them to the post-season, needs to step up and shutdown the Brewers bats; namely Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
Starter Daniel Hudson last just 5 1/3 innings as he allowed five runs on nine-hits.; this does not win playoff games. His counterpart, Zach Greinke, did not fair much better lasting just five-innings. Greinke surrendered eight hits and four runs to the D-backs.
Through five innings, this game was all about the home run. Braun hit his first home run of the 2011 post-season, sending a two-run blast to center for an early 2-0 lead for the Brewers. In the second though, Paul Goldschmidt cut the lead in half as he homered too.
Down by three, Chris Young sent another solo homerun to the outfield and in the fifth, Justin Upton tied things at four-a-piece on his two-run blast to left.
But that was the last time the D-backs would score the rest of the game as in the bottom of the sixth, Arizona surrendered five, allowing the Brewers to grab a 9-4 victory and a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. One more win and Milwaukee will faceoff against the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals series.
The difference in the game was Jonathan Lucroy’s bunt single that scored Jerry Hairston and ended up being the game winner.
With the bases loaded, Milwaukee hit three straight singles to compile their final four-runs of Sunday’s game two.
It will be a huge benefit for the Diamondbacks to go back home for game three and hopefully send it to a game four. But in order to do that, the pitching staff needs to be lights out against Braun and Fielder.
MILWAUKEE — Arizona did not open the post-season on a high note.
The NL West champs struggled mightily in game one on the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in front of 44,122.
Arizona was limited to four-hits by Milwaukee’s, Yovani Gallardo, who pitched eight innings in which he allowed one home run to Ryan Roberts in the eighth; a lead off solo shot.
The poor offense is a key reason why Ian Kennedy is not taking more heat for his less than superior start. The dominant ace of the D-backs lasted just 6 2/3 innings. He surrendered all four of the Brewers hits, 8, and runs, 4.
All season long, both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have led Milwaukee’s offense; game one was no different.
In the fourth, Braun led-off with a single and Fielder followed with a double to advance Braun to third with no outs. Jerry Hairston drove in the first run of the series with a sacrifice fly, allowing Braun to score.
The Brewers added another run in the sixth on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI-single after Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-out triple.
In the home half of the seventh, Braun and Fielder again torched the D-backs for more runs to double their current run total. With two-outs, Braun doubled and with one mighty swing, Fielder crashed a two-run home run to give the Milwaukee faithful a 4-0 lead through seven.
Milwaukee has proven why they will be a tough best-of-five series matchup. They can hit for power and their starting rotation is strong. But, their bullpen is probably stronger, so any lead they possess will more than likely end up as a Brewers victory.
PHOENIX — The playoff races are all settled and we are ready to begin post-season play starting Friday evening.
What happened yesterday will probably never happen again. We had four teams tied entering the last game of the season, vying for two last playoff spots; one in the NL Wild Card, the other in the AL Wild Card. Three of the four games were dramatic and went down to the last pitch, while the St. Louis Cardinals easily defeated the worst team in the majors, Houston, in an 8-0 romp.
Atlanta blew an 8 ½-game over the Cardinals as they fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in extras. Boston held a 3-2 lead entering the ninth against Baltimore, but closer Jonathan Papelbon blew the save and the Red Sox life as he gave up the game winning hit to Robert Andino.
However, despite their loss, Tampa Bay at point was trailing the New York Yankees 7-0, but managed to come all the way back, tying it on a pinch-hit home run from Dan Johnson with two outs and a two strike count going against him. Evan Longoria then ended things four minutes after Boston blew their lead, sending a playoff clinching home run to left field. Both home runs just stayed fair and cleared the wall otherwise we might have had a one-game playoff to decide the AL Wild Card champion today.
Now as for what the NL West champs have to go through. Their path is not easy by any means. Arizona will open divisional play in Milwaukee against the Brewers on Saturday. The Brewers play their best baseball at home (57-24) so game one will be interesting to see if Ian Kennedy can keep the BrewCrew in place.
If they are able to win that series, Arizona will most likely go against the Phillies, who they split their season series with. The Yankees are always the favorite to reach the World Series and it does not appear to be a different story this year either. However, that being said, how epic would it be to defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series again as Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did ten years ago?
This actually appears to be a very interesting post-season with any of the eight teams capable of winning the championship and I will be tuned into as many games as I can watch.
PHOENIX — IT’S OVA!
The Arizona Diamondbacks have overcome the improbable. With their magic number down to one entering Friday’s night game with second-place San Francisco Giants visiting, all Arizona needed to do was win one game this weekend.
As it is known by now, the D-backs have eliminated the defending champions from any chance of a division crown. The only hope the Giants have left is to win out the rest of the season while both Atlanta and St. Louis lose the rest of their remaining games. Things do not look good for the Giants as Atlanta just needs one win or Giants loss to eliminate San Francisco.
But, this is an Arizona blog, so let’s celebrate and talk about the things to come.
For starters, Arizona won the division after spending the past two seasons being the first NL West opponent to be eliminated from playoff contention. Secondly, the division is Arizona’s fifth in the last 14-seasons. Mathematically that is about one every three years.
The win itself was a signature victory as it came as most wins have come for the D-backs this year. Their starter, Joe Saunders, stepped up big in the spotlight delivering a huge start for his club. He pitched seven-innings as his only extra base hit allowed was a home run to left off the bat of Orlando Cabrera. Otherwise, his six other hits allowed were all singles. But despite his strong effort, he left the game with a possible loss to his record.
Arizona, has they have done all season, rewarded the great start that was dealt, scoring three runs through the seventh and eighth. There was only one way to end this surprising division victory; J. J. Putz entered the ninth and closed the game out for the division championship against the more than likely, former World Series champions.
Trailing 1-0 entering the home half of the seventh, things were looking a little disappointing for the 42,606 in attendance. However, Paul Goldschmidt played a key role in these final innings for Arizona, first starting off by taking a one-out walk in the seventh. Chris Young then pulverized a shot to deep center field, just missing a home run, to drive in Goldschmidt to tie the game 1-all.
In the eighth, Ryan Roberts led-off with a double and advanced to third on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice bunt. Cain then intentionally walked the NL MVP candidate in Justin Upton. After Miguel Montero filed out to center, it was up to Goldschmidt to cash in for the D-backs with runners at the corners but two-outs already recorded.
With a 1-2 count, Goldschmidt reached out for the pitch from Cain, and it was a beautiful hit that flew into right field, bouncing away from Carlos Beltran’s out stretched glove that rolled all the way to the wall for a two-run triple. Arizona was leading 3-1 with three outs left in the ninth to end things Friday night.
Chris Young who tied things in the seventh had to be on his toes as every out recorded in the inning was due to his attention in center.
Now, things are not quite to the point where Arizona can rest till the playoffs start. They still have a chance to have home field advantage in the first round against the wild card victor if they can surpass the Milwaukee Brewers. This decision though is up the D-backs managerial staff if they are satisfied with a division crown or if they want that home field advantage.
I think manager Kirk Gibson, who won the title in his first full season as manager and deserves an acknowledgement, will want that home field advantage. Personally, as a few experts have stated, it would be in any teams favor to go up against the Philadelphia Phillies in a best of five, than best of seven with that pitching staff they possess. Arizona could easily take one in Philly, and win their two home games where they have been dominant all season long.
All that I know is October will be a fun month that is a guarantee.
SAN DIEGO — The magic number can now be counted on one hand. Arizona scored five runs to defeat the San Diego Padres and avoid the weekend sweep as the Diamondbacks’ are getting closer to their overall goal.
But, it has been a bumpy road for the D-backs since my last post. Arizona has gone 3-4 since the 10 year Anniversary of 9/11, while the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants have won eight straight.
It appeared a week ago that Arizona would cruse in for the division title, but San Francisco’s late run has postponed any kind of celebration in Phoenix for the moment. I believed that the D-backs would have had this thing wrapped in their upcoming series with the Pirates, but it looks as if the series with Giants this weekend will play a major factor in NL West champ.
I cannot think of anything more heartbreaking than leading a team by 8 ½ through mid-September, to just blow the lead and division in the final days of the season. Arizona currently has a five game lead over the Giants. However, Arizona closes out the regular season with nine games at home where they have been dominant as of lately, so the odds seem to be in Arizona’s favor. Maybe they should bring back the uniforms from the 2001 team.
A recurring theme for Arizona’s losses is the fact that they do not score runs despite strong efforts by their starters. The good news being is that Ian Kennedy takes the mound for the D-backs against a struggling Pirates team. Pittsburgh is the team to play as Kennedy seeks his 20th win and Arizona looks to cut their magic number further.
Joe Saunders (12-12) returned to .500 as he came within one out of pitching a complete game. San Diego hit back-to-back two out singles in the ninth and were threatening as a fielding error on Alberto Gonzalez’s single resulted in both runners advancing into scoring position. J. J. Putz though pitched the final out, getting Nick Hundley to strike out swinging for his 41st save.
The only mistake that Arizona made the rest of the game was in the third-inning. Cameron Maybin led-off the inning with a single, stealing second and advancing to third on the throwing error from D-backs catcher, Miguel Montero. Jason Bartlett’s RBI-groundout gave San Diego their lone run of the afternoon.
However, in the fourth, Montero backed up his error by tying the game with a leadoff solo blast to center. Paul Goldschmidt broke the 1-1 tie by also sending a solo shot into right field, giving Arizona a 2-1 lead through six.
The D-backs doubled their run total in the seventh as Gerardo Parra took a walk to start things off. A wild pitch with Aaron Hill batting allowed Parra to take second, and quickly Hill got himself an RBI, singling on a line drive to left and reaching third on a throwing error from outfielder, Kyle Blanks. Goldschmidt then drove in Hill on another hit to Blanks in left for a 4-1lead. Goldschmidt added his third RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly to give Arizona a final of 5-1.
PHOENIX — Six unanswered runs were not enough to come from behind as Arizona had its 15-game home winning streak snapped by the San Diego Padres on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
San Diego got their third win this season at Chase Field as they piled on the runs early against Diamondbacks starter, Josh Collmenter. He lasted just four-innings in which he allowed seven hits, surrendering six runs.
Nick Hundley got things going for the Padres as he led-off the second-inning with a double, advancing later on Anthony Rizzo’s groundout to first. James Darnell then put San Diego on the board with his one-out RBI-single to right.
The very next inning, Wade LeBlanc singled and Cameron Maybin’s ground-rule double put the Padres in prime position to add more runs with runners in scoring position and no outs in the third. Chris Denorfia then hit a grounder to the shortstop, but instead of being thrown out at first, Denorfia reached safely as LeBlanc was thrown out at the plate. San Diego now found themselves with runners at the corners and one-out, with Arizona only needing a groundball to escape the inning.
Jesus Guzman kept the inning alive with a shot to left that scored Maybin, as Guzman and Denorifa both advanced into scoring position, avoiding any possible chance of a double-play for a time being. Hundley’s walk loaded the bases, but also applied the force out at every base. However, a second walk allowed a run to be walked in as San Diego took a 3-0 lead, and very quickly a 4-0 lead through three on Darnell’s sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Hundley completed his 3-for-4 performance sending a two-run blast into the leftfield bleachers, putting the Padres up 6-0. They would extend that lead a run further as Guzman’s two-out single brought in Maybin for a seven-run lead.
But, before the Padres could end the sixth, Arizona was right back in this game scoring five-run in the inning as they cut their deficit to two-runs.
Henry Blanco broke the shutout, hitting a solo home run to the fans in left. Three of the next five batters reached due to singles and a walk to load the bases for Chris Young with two-outs. Young brought a pair of runs home, doubling to leftfield. Collin Cowgill followed by driving in another pair of runs on his single to center.
Blanco again came up big, leading off the seventh with a single and taking second after Geoff Blum was hit by a pitch. Roberts force out groundball put runners at the corners with Justin Upton at-bat. But, not even the MVP candidate could do anything more than an RBI-groundout.
Arizona did not get another hit the rest of the game as they dropped their third of their last sixteen. With an 8 ½-game lead in the division, Arizona is just a win away from eliminating the Rockies and their magic number now sitting at 8. The last weekend series of the season with the Giants may not have any significance as Arizona could be celebrating an NL West crown with their fans next week when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates.
DENVER — Arizona wrapped up their six-game road trip with a series win over Colorado, going 4-2 on their trip against divisional foes as the season slowly begins to wrap up.
The Diamondbacks, winners of 13 of their past 15 games, trailed the Rockies by a run midway through the rubber matchup. But, the NL West leaders were not about to go down without a fight, rallying for three runs to win 5-3.
Earlier in the afternoon, San Diego defeated the defending champs 3-1, giving Arizona a 6 ½-game lead entering Wednesday night’s game. However, with Arizona winning, the D-backs pushed the Giants seven games back while eliminating the Padres completely from playoff contention.
As of right now, ESPN has the D-backs percentage chance of making the playoffs at 98.9. Atlanta, currently leaders of the Wild Card sit at a 96% chance of making the post-season. It appears more and more that San Francisco will not be given the opportunity to defend their title.
Both starters gave average efforts for their respective club. Saunders went six-innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits. Colorado starter, Kevin Millwood, lasted just 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on ten hits. Each starter threw 100+ pitches too.
In the third, it was all about the long ball for both teams. Miguel Montero hit a two-run home run, giving Arizona a two run lead for the time being. But, in the home half of the third, the Rockies used two solo shots to tie the game 2-all. Millwood, the pitcher, and Carlos Gonzalez both went deep.
In the bottom of the fourth, Colorado yet again went deep on a solo home run, this time off the bat of Wilin Rosario for their first lead of the game, 3-2.
Despite having one of their weaker performances during this 15-game stretch, Arizona managed to find a way to win, maintaining their strong lead in the division.
Paul Goldschmidt led off the sixth with a single and scored the tying run on John McDonald’s two-out double. Even Arizona’s starter, Saunders, got in on the fun, hitting an RBI-single to reclaim Arizona’s lead from earlier.
The D-backs lead was extended further as another home run left the park. Justin Upton cracked a leadoff solo home run to increase Arizona’s lead at 5-3.
In the ninth though, a rarity occurred. The Rockies literally got an extra out in the inning as Rosario struck out swinging on a wild pitch and reached first safely. But closer, J. J. Putz like he has done all season recovered from an early mistake, retiring the next three batters he faced for his 37-save. Arizona now leads by seven games with 19 games left in the season. It is too early at the moment to be talking magic number, though I know a number of fans are counting down today.
SAN FRANCISCO — After dropping the first game of the series, Arizona took no time in bouncing back to avoid another losing skid after winning nine straight. The Diamondbacks used a four-run eighth to rally against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants to take the series, pushing the Giants seven back in the division.
The Giants went back to their old ways, little offense and another loss in the record books. San Francisco managed just three hits in the game, all coming against starter Daniel Hudson who pitched for his 15th win of the season.
San Francisco’s lone run came on the second pitch from Hudson as Cody Ross cracked a leadoff home run. Things seemed to be off to a good start for the Giants in this rubber match affair. But as we know, San Francisco could not do anything more threatening the rest of the game besides Carlos Beltran’s two-out triple in the sixth.
Down a run entering the eighth, Arizona was quickly back in the game on Ryan Roberts’s solo home run that tied the game one-a-piece. Gerardo Parra then singled and Geoff Blum followed by taking a one-out walk. Willie Bloomquist would then triple to right field where Beltran was unable to corral the ball, allowing both runners to score for a D-backs lead of 3-1. With Bloomquist at third, Aaron Hill’s single was enough to bring in another D-backs run, the fourth answered of the game.
J. J. Putz is now top five in the majors for saves. He earned his 36-save after retiring the heart of the Giants lineup in order.
Arizona is now 20-games over .500 with the rest of the schedule in the D-backs favor. They’re only quality opponent the rest of the season is San Francisco in late September. Otherwise, every team is sub-.500. The D-backs seem poised at the moment to just cruse the rest of the way to a division title as the Giants continue to fall farther and farther behind with less and less days to make a dramatic comeback.
PHOENIX — Two season highs took place in the Diamondbacks 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night. The D-backs won their season high, eighth straight win and that win gave them a season high, six-game lead in the NL West.
With just 26-games left in the season, Arizona seems to be on their way to a division title after spending the past two seasons at the bottom of the pact.
Arizona used 8-RBIs by Gerardo Parra, Justin Upton, and Miguel Montero over the course of the game to defeat the Rockies, giving their starter, Wade Miley, a comfortable lead to work with for his second straight start.
Miley, who is filling in for the injured Jason Marquis, has been a good asset for the Diamondbacks to fall back on. In his last two starts, he has lasted a combined 12-innings and allowed just two-runs.
Aaron Cook of Colorado however got roughed up for six runs through 4 1/3 innings. Arizona put up two three spots in the third and fifth respectively to send Cook on his way.
Already trailing by a run, the D-backs Gerardo Parra hit a 2-run triple to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. That lead was pushed to 3-1 on Upton’s RBI-groundout.
Colorado inched a run closer in the fourth, but a three-run home run by Montero in the fifth allowed Arizona to jump out to a 6-2 lead. That home run led to Cook’s departure, but the Rockies bullpen would not be any better as the surrendered a two out RBI-single to Aaron Hill the following inning.
Upton not only homered in the eighth to give Arizona a 9-3 lead before Dexter Fowler hit his first home run of the season for Colorado, but made an amazing catch in the fifth. For the second straight night, Upton has made unbelievable catches to either rob someone of a hit or run all the way to right field foul wall to record an out.
The D-backs will look for their second straight sweep as they take on Esmil Rogers before traveling to San Francisco for a weekend set with the Giants. Arizona could do some major damage with wins at San Francisco, potentially putting the Giants ten games out. Arizona is staring to believe, and the longer they keep winning and remain in first, that belief only gets stronger and could be a problem for opponents come playoff baseball in October.
PHOENIX — Despite three hit batters in the ninth, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to escape a scare for the seventh straight win, improving their lead over the Giants to five-games.
Tim Hudson earned his 14-win going seven shutout innings and striking out eight in the effort. Aside from Arizona, only the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies have two starters in the top eight for wins in the majors.
Colorado starter, Alex White however did not have the same stuff rolling. He surrendered five-runs on seven hits through six, marking his first career loss as a major leaguer.
But the game was close till the sixth when the D-backs unloaded on White for four-runs. Arizona hit five of their eight hits in the inning too.
Aaron Hill singled to start the run parade, leading to Justin Upton getting hit by a pitch allowing the D-backs to have their first two batters of the inning to reach safely.
Miguel Montero singled on a grounder between the first and second baseman, scoring Hill from second. The very next batter, Paul Goldschmidt hit an RBI-double for a 3-0 lead and kept the inning going with runners in scoring position and no-outs yet to be recorded.
With the bases loaded, John McDonald’s RBI-single extended Arizona’s lead further at 4-0. Even the pitcher got into the action by singling on a line drive to left, scoring Goldschmidt, but with Gerardo Parra being thrown out at home for the second out after trying to score from second.
In the ninth however, the wheels seemed to be about to fall off completely as three different Arizona relief pitchers hit three different Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki led off the ninth and was the first to get by a pitch. Ty Wigginton then hit a one-out single advancing Tulowitzki to second.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was then hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases for Colorado with one-out and with one perfect swing of the bat, this game could be tied.
In a game where the D-backs led 5-0 entering the ninth the save situation was not possible, but it soon became a possibility and that is exactly why J. J. Putz entered, also probably because he has been lights out lately in the ninth.
But even Putz, the third reliever of the inning, struggled out of the pen hitting Chirs Iannetta, forcing a run in for Colorado.
But as in appearances of the past, Putz settled down and was able to strikeout Jason Giambi and get Dexter Fowler to fly out to end the game, giving Arizona their seventh win in a row after dropping six straight.
Hopefully if the D-backs drop a game in the next day or two it won’t lead to another long losing streak. Remember the last time Arizona won seven straight; it was not that long ago.
PHOENIX — The roller coaster ride has gotten underway for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Earlier this month, the D-backs went on a seven-game winning streak, right before they dropped their next six, but amazingly maintained their lead in the West over the San Francisco Giants.
Sunday afternoon Arizona completed their weekend series with the San Diego Padres with a sweep, keeping them on their current six-game win streak and moving a full four games over the Giants for the West crown.
Ian Kennedy got the D-backs rolling on their current streak and kept it intact with a seven-inning performance en-route to his National League leading 17th win.
San Diego scored their only run of the day on an Orlando Hundson home run in the second. Otherwise, the Padres’ were kept in check, falling to Arizona, 6-1.
In the home half of the second, the game was quickly tied up by Collin Cowgill who hit his first career home run as a professional to tie things 1-all. Cowgill would go on to have a perfect 4-for -4 afternoon, helping the D-backs by contributing two of Arizona’s six runs.
A third straight home run in the bottom of the third by Aaron Hill extended Arizona’s lead at 3-1.
However, trailing by just two-runs heading into the eighth, the Padres’ were still within striking distance of upsetting the hot D-backs.
But Arizona would quickly double their run total through seven to go up 6-1 to take their sixth straight victory from the Padres’.
Paul Goldschmidt took a one-out walk, beginning the rally. Miguel Montero followed with a single, putting Goldschmidt at second with Cowgill hitting his first double to drive home Goldschmidt for a 4-1 lead.
The D-backs offense was not quite done yet as Ryan Roberts stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded after Erik Hamren was intentionally walked. Back-to-back walks allowed Montero to score the D-backs fifth run.
Aaron Hill completed his 3-for-5 afternoon with an RBI-single to the Padres shortstop, Jason Bartlett.
Zach Duke entered the ninth retiring all three Padres in order.
Arizona will now open a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies to possibly increase their lead further in the West, which is something they will desperately want to do. After that, they travel to San Francisco for a Labor Day weekend series against the Giants that could determine how soon the D-backs could potentially celebrate or if this division title will be decided by the last games of the season.
WASHINGTON — It was indeed a weird day in the D.C. area Tuesday. An earthquake struck Virginia which is just miles away from Washington D.C. and Nationals Park which resulted in many buildings in the area being evacuated. Thank god the ball game was a night game.
The other surprising event that took place Tuesday was a Diamondbacks’ victory against the Washington Nationals. However, the win was more impressive than what the final box score showed.
While the win finally ended the D-backs current six-game losing streak, Arizona still continues to struggle scoring runs score runs, winning by just a score of 2-0, with the difference in the game being a two-run home run in the seventh.
It is amazing too that Arizona still has a full two-game lead over San Francisco despite their previous skid. But the defending champs have several injuries to their name and were never that great of a run producing team this season.
Ian Kennedy was able to bounce back from his loss against the Philadelphia Phillies that was the starting point of the D-backs losing streak. Kennedy has now won eight of his last nine to improve to 16-4, which is tied for first among active National League starters with the other leader being another NL West starter, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.
Kennedy was able to pitch himself out of a jam in the fifth that could have seen vital damage to a team that cannot score at the moment. The Nats had the bases loaded with just one out and the powerful Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, making manager Kirk Gibson and D-back fans everywhere wonder when this losing streak would end.
But, Kennedy got Zimmerman to strikeout and also got cleanup hitter Michael Morse to strikeout as well.
In the top of the seventh, Chris Young worked his way to a one-out walk. Sean Burroughs was due up and wasted no time at the plate like his counterpart at first, smacking the first pitch from Nationals starter, Jordan Zimmermann, out of the park for a 2-0 lead. It was Burroughs first home run since April 30, 2005; Burroughs since then has spent much of his time in the D-backs minor league organization.
Arizona closer, J. J. Putz, had a clean and easy ninth. He struck out Laynce Nix and retired the other two batters en-route to his 31-save allowing Arizona to maintain their two-game lead over the Giants’.
Realistically, it may be too much to be so hard on the Diamondbacks’ offense in late August because they are still leading the division. And typically, the winner of most championships in any sport is the team that gets hot at the end of the season and can take that momentum with them into the postseason (cough cough… UConn Huskies). This very well could be the skid Arizona goes on before getting hot in September and playing that same baseball in October to knock off the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers for a possible spot and 10-year anniversary in the World Series.
ATLANTA — The hot Diamondbacks’ are non-existent as they have now become colder than a negative January wind chill day in the Midwest. Winners of seven straight, Arizona has now lost five in a row to quality playoff opponents as they suffered a sweep to the Braves’ Sunday afternoon.
Arizona is having the same misfortune that the second-place San Francisco Giants have had the entire second half of the season; they cannot hit worth a lick. The Diamondbacks’ as a team scored a total of six-runs while on their current slump, while the pitching staff has allowed 26-runs in five-games, that equates to early sweep in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Sunday afternoon was the same story as Arizona got shutout while putting just five balls in play. The only bit of luck the Diamondbacks’ have going from them right now is their division counterpart, the Giants’, are not making any ground in the division. They have been losers of five of their last seven.
Arizona held a 3 ½-game lead over the Giants’ last Tuesday, but that lead has shrunk on this current road trip to 1 ½.
What was even more disappointing was the effort Arizona starter, Josh Collmenter, brought to ballpark Sunday. He pitched seven-innings of four-hit ball with his only mistake of the game being a pitch to Alex Gonzalez in the home half of the third that left the park and ended up being the difference maker.
Tim Hudson of the Braves’ just out did Collmenter, blanking the D-backs through seven-innings while allowing three-hits and striking out seven.
Even though the Braves’ just held a 1-0 lead after seven, the game was over as Atlanta sent out their relief guns in Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. Both pitchers were not as dominant as they typically are; nevertheless, they did their job to prevent an Arizona rally as Kimbrel earned his major league leading 39-save.
Arizona catches a small break in the schedule as they open a four-game set with the Washington Nationals Monday before heading home for two three-game sets with the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. If Arizona wants to be taken seriously in this playoff talk, they needed to win seven of their next ten to close out the month of August and increase their lead over the defending champions.
PHILADELPHIA — Arizona’s bats were finally silenced as Cliff Lee dominated and the Phillies’ scored seven unanswered runs late in the game to end the Diamondbacks’ seven-game winning streak.
Lee threw seven-innings in which his only mistake was a pitch to Paul Goldschmidt that left the park for a two-run blast. Arizona only got three-hits off Lee and were hitless against the Phillies’ bullpen.
For the first time in a while though, the Diamondbacks bullpen could not live up to its current reputation as it allowed four-runs in the ninth-inning that capped off a late rally by Philadelphia to defeat the first-place Diamondbacks’. The loss hurts as San Francisco was finally able to beat the Braves, narrowing the lead in the West to 2 ½-games.
Aside from early inning troubles, Joe Saunders seemed primed to deliver Arizona’s eighth straight win against another top pitching prospect. After a Jimmy Rollins leadoff homerun in the first and an RBI-single in the second tied the game 2-2, Saunders settled down for the next four-innings.
In the bottom of the seventh however, Saunders could not buy an out as he was pulled after allowing three straight batters to reach and surrendering two-runs in the process.
He walked Hunter Pence to start the inning, and followed that by allowing a single to John Mayberry and a double by Wilson Valdez brought both base runners home to gave Philadelphia a 4-2 lead.
But Valdez was still on base and still Saunders responsibility, and he got charged for that run as well, his fifth of night, as Ben Francisco hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Valdez from third.
The Phillies’ were not done yet as they started the ninth-inning with five straight singles that scored Ryan Howard for a 6-2 lead.
Valdez reached for the fourth single on a throwing error that loaded the bases with nobody out. Brian Schneider concluded the five singles in a row by adding an RBI to his stat sheet.
Rollins continued the run parade by hitting a sacrifice fly with two-outs and Shane Victorino ended the rout by doubling home the fourth and final run of the evening as the Phillies dominated the snakes 9-2.
It should be a good one tonight as the Diamondbacks’ send their ace, Ian Kennedy, to the mound as he searches for his eighth straight win along with his 16-win of the season. A win would also give Arizona a series victory over a champion caliber team.
PHILADELPHIA — Manger Kirk Gibson is doing all the right things, saying all the right things to his ballclub and has got this Arizona Diamondbacks team believing. Arizona started a tough road trip by opening it against the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies, who are the best team presently with 78-42 record.
Tied with the most wins in the National League among active starters at 15, Halladay (15-5) demonstrated what the Diamondbacks’ might encounter in a possible first-round playoff matchup.
Halladay pitched a complete game, but suffered the loss; he struck out 14 in nine-innings too. With just two-outs left in the game, Roy gave up the double that allowed two Arizona runs to come home for a lead change. It appears there is something in the Diamondbacks’ Gatorade as they continue the ride on their current seven-game winnings streak, now opening up a 3 ½-game lead over the San Francisco Giants who lost in extras to the Atlanta Braves.
Arizona starter, Josh Collmenter, was effective in his 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and allowing just two-runs to this powerful Phillies’ club. The bullpen continues to dominate as they allowed just one-hit in the final 2 2/3 innings with J. J. Putz striking out two in the ninth en-route to his 30-save.
Lyle Overbay would have two key at-bats that virtually gave Arizona this win over the Phillies; once in his first at-bat with the other taking place in the ninth with his last at-bat.
In the second-inning, Chris Young singled with one-out and would also steal second with Overbay at-bat. It did not take much longer after that as Overbay lined the pitch into right-field for an RBI-single, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead.
However, in the fifth, the lead disappeared on a swing by Shane Victorino. After Halladay grounded out to start the inning, Jimmy Rollins singled with Victorino following by sending a two-run shot into right-field for the Phillies’ first lead of the night.
Halladay appeared to find his grove after a Gerardo Parra leadoff single in the fifth as he retired the next 12 Arizona hitters.
Leading 2-1 with eight-innings recorded in the books, Philadelphia had all but locked this one up as they currently post a 66-1 record when leading after eight.
Well, let’s make that 66-2 now.
Justin Upton led the ninth off with a single with Miguel Montero following with a single of his own, putting Arizona in prime position to jump over the more than likely tired Halladay with two runners aboard and no-outs to be found.
Halladay got his 13-strikeout with Young being the victim. But the damage was far from done with Overbay’s last at-bat due up next. Overbay did not wait long, sending the first pitch from Halladay over the right-fielder’s head that bounced just in front of the out-of-town score board for a two-run go-ahead double.
Putz locked down after issuing a leadoff walk to Carlos Ruiz. Michael Martinez was thrown out on a sacrifice bunt. Putz then got both Ross Gload and Rollins to strikeout swinging.
However, playing the best team in the majors does not get easier with one-win and to win the World Series you need to win series, not A game. The Diamondbacks’ next battle is to go through Cliff Lee, who is 12-7 with 177-strikeouts and a 2.83-ERA.
PHOENIX — Another injury to add to the books.
Arizona fans got bitter news Friday night when Xavier Nady went down with a broken hand after being hit by Mets, starter, Dillon Gee. Sunday afternoon the news got worse as starter, Jason Marquis got hit on a line-drive that broke his shin, putting him on the four-to-six week disabled list too.
However, the injury did not affect the NL West leading Diamondbacks who scored three unanswered runs to defeat and sweep the New York Mets in a 5-3 win that kept them two-games ahead of the San Francisco Giants who also won earlier in the afternoon.
Marquis lasted just 3 1/3 innings giving up three-hits and a homerun before he had to call it quits after trying to last through the pain of his then unknowingly broken shin. Zach Duke entered for Marquis and struggled too, lasting just 2 2/3 innings while surrendering two-runs on four-hits.
New York got the first of the day on Lucas Duda’s leadoff solo homerun in the fourth-inning. In the bottom-half of the inning, Arizona grabbed a 2-1 lead.
With back-to-back one-out singles by Ryan Roberts and Sean Burroughs, Paul Goldschmidt hit a ground-rule double to bring Roberts home and tying the game. A wild-pitch with Henry Blanco at-bat allowed the second run of the inning to cross home, giving Arizona their temporary lead.
In the fifth-inning, Angel Pagan hit a single to start the Mets two-run affair. Justin Turner followed with an RBI-double to tie things up 2-2. Duda stepped up again big, singling home Turner for the Mets second lead of the game, 3-2.
But Justin Upton, who has been unbelievably hot the last few days, was not going to let 30,000+ paying fans go home without at attempted try at a sweep. He hit homerun number 25 to tie the game 3-apiece after five-innings of play.
With a two-out double in home half of the sixth, Goldschmidt doubled as did Blanco to break the 3-all tie, giving Arizona a 4-3 lead.
Arizona would add a insurance run, they had a great opportunity to really knockout the Mets, as they got the bases loaded on a hits batsman, a walk, and single with Blanco at-bat again and no outs. Blanco was patient and as a result was awarded a walk to increase the Diamondbacks lead, 5-3. But the next batter flew out and Willie Bloomquist ended the inning on a double-play in a scenario that could have seen Arizona take complete command of the game.
Arizona however would survive another day as David Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth for his 11-save. The win kept the Diamondbacks two-games in front of San Francisco who won earlier in a 5-2 win over the struggling Florida Marlins.
The Diamondbacks are now going to really tested in their upcoming ten-game road trip that starts Tuesday night. They have three series with NL East teams. The first two being against the best team in the majors right now, Philadelphia, and the more than likely Wild Card champs in the Atlanta Braves, both of which are three-game sets.
The Giants have a little more comfortable of a August schedule left, just having to face the Braves before playing two series with the Houston Astros, with a two-game set with the San Diego Padres in the middle, before finishing the month at home against the hard to figure out Chicago Cubs.
If Arizona wants to prove itself worthy of a division title, they will need to come ready to play, and hit against the great pitchers they will encounter in Philly and Atlanta.
PHOENIX — Are the Arizona Diamondbacks and Ian Kennedy really as good as they are playing right now? Arizona (66-53) has been on a roll since the All-Star break, going 17-10 while their divisional foe, the San Francisco Giants, have gone 12-15 during the same span of games.
Kennedy (15-3) has been something else this 2011 season. He continues to win close-knit games with a majority of Arizona’s victories being 1 to 3 runs every time he takes the mound. His dominance gives him the praise he definitely deserves being tied with Philadelphia’s, Roy Halladay for most wins in the National League, and tied for third among active starters in the majors.
With his seven-innings of work, allowing just one-run on six-hits, Kennedy remains perfect in the month of August with a 3-0 record and a 2.45-ERA for the month as well. To make the numbers even more impressive, Kennedy has won all of his previous seven starts. But with all this positive energy coming off from Kennedy, there will probably be a fair share of negativity in the offseason with payroll. Currently, Kennedy is making just $423,000 for this season, but more likely than not, he will want a pay increase for the phenomenal season he is having and he deserves as long as his numbers do not slide too drastically in the years to come. Arizona should look him up to a four-year deal; nothing extreme because pitchers who have a season like Kennedy is having typically seem to disappear off the face of the earth.
The close victory was even more valuable for the Diamondbacks entire ballclub because with San Francisco’s 2-1 loss against the Florida Marlins, Arizona was able to increase their lead in the division by another full-game, now leading by 2.
Arizona jumped out early on Mets starter, Dillon Gee, scoring all four of its runs in the first two-innings of play. In the bottom of the first, Justin Upton hit a two-out solo homerun to get things going for the Diamondbacks.
An inning later, Arizona added more runs, this time three, on three straight doubles after Xaiver Nady was hit by a pitch. The pitch broke Nady’s hand and has placed him on the disabled list where he will most likely miss most of the regular season, possibly being healthy enough to return to post-season play if Arizona wins the division.
After the hit batter, Sean Bourroughs doubled to put himself and Nady in scoring position with one-out. Cody Ransom doubled both runners home for 3-0 lead. Even Kennedy got in on the fun, also doubling home a base runner which as it turned out, would be the game winner in a 4-3 battle with the Mets.
In the fifth, Angel Pagan led-off for the Mets with single. A wild-pitch by Kennedy allowed Pagan to take second and with two-outs, Jason Bay’s RBI-single brought Pagan in for New York’s first run of the night.
Bay would score the Mets second run as he doubled to lead-off the eighth. He took third on Josh Thole line-out and with Jason Pridie’s groundout, came home on the ensuing play.
Closer, J. J. Putz came in for relief in the ninth, struggling with his command as he allowed a double to Scott Hairston to start the inning. Pagan’s groundout allowed Hairston to advance to third and Willie Harris’s sacrifice-fly made it a one-run ballgame. However, Putz was able to finish the inning without any further damage, getting David Wright to groundout to end the inning.
Arizona’s win Friday marked their 66-win, which surpasses their season win total from a year ago.
PHOENIX — Wow. That is all I can manage to say at the moment about this Arizona Diamondbacks club. Could Arizona really have to late-inning comebacks against the same time in the same series? Guess so.
Arizona has tied their win mark from the end of last season when they went 65-97, they are now 65-53 with a full-game lead on the San Francisco Giants. I for one did not expect this team to go from last to first with a seriously good chance of winning the division in less than a year. But the Diamondbacks’ seemingly continue to find ways to win games despite the odds. I hate to make predictions with both San Francisco and Arizona each having 44-games remaining to close out the regular season, but the more I blog about both teams, the more I feel as if Arizona will take the division as the surprise/sleeper team of the year.
San Francisco, as good as they are on the mound with Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Brian Wilson, they are just awful when standing at the plate. They rank near the bottom in almost all the major offensive statistics and currently have a -13 run differential. Pitching can be compared to defense in the NFL in the saying that defense wins games. But defense on the field cannot lead to runs and that is where San Francisco struggles as opposed to the division leading Diamondbacks.
Arizona can hit the ball, there is no question about that. Their batting average (.250) is not impressive but they score runs (541) which is good for 7th in the Majors. That also gives the Diamondbacks a plus-22 run differential.
That Arizona offense showed up again against the worst team in the majors, the Houston Astros (38-80) who are forty-games under .500. The Diamondbacks were down 5-1 entering the eighth before they scored seven unanswered runs to defeat the Astros, giving Arizona a full-game lead over the defending champions.
The Astros’ seemed all but poised to win this game and spoil Arizona’s hopes of claiming the division by a full-game as they piled on the runs in the middle frames. Carlos Lee had an RBI-single in the third to give Houston a 1-0 lead. In the fifth, the first three batters all reached base safely and J. D. Martinez brought in two-runs on a double. Lee lined-out to bring in another run to put up a three-spot in the inning.
Arizona got a run back in the bottom half of the frame on Willie Bloomquist’s RBI-single, but, the Astros’ got their four-run lead right back as Jason Bourgeois tripled to lead-off the seventh, coming home Jose Altuve’s RBI-single.
The rally began in the eighth when Bloomquist was issued a one-out walk, scoring on Ryan Roberts double. After a Justin Upton groundout, Miguel Montero singled home Roberts to cut the Astros previous lead in half, now trailing 5-3.
In the ninth, Arizona had a man on base, but also had two-outs and were down to their last strike with Paul Goldschmidt being the Diamondbacks last prayer. After running the count even 2-2, Goldschmidt fouled the next two pitchers he saw before slamming a pitch to the left-field stands for a two-run game-tying homerun that sent the game into extras.
The offense was able to remain hot due to J. J. Putz quick mow down of Houston in the tenth, retiring all three batters he faced in eight-pitches.
In the bottom half, Roberts and Upton hit back-to-back singles leading to Chris Young’s one-out, three-run game-winning homerun to give Young his fifth career walk-off and the Diamondbacks’ a full-game lead on the San Francisco Giants.
Both the Giants’ and Diamondbacks’ open up a three-game series with NL East foes as the New York Mets visit Phoenix and the Giants’ travel to south Florida to take on the Marlins. The Mets’ series starts a span of four series between Arizona and the NL East. Arizona will go on a ten-game road trip following the Mets’ series, visiting Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington respectively.
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks have reclaimed first-place in the NL West for the moment. The D-Backs 6-3 win along with the Giants’ 9-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday gave way for Arizona’s ½-game lead over San Francisco.
Arizona starter, Josh Collmenter, did not let his previous two-starts get to his head as he lasted a total of six-innings while allowing 11-earned runs during that two-game spam.
With the Giants’ game taking place in the afternoon, the D-Backs entered the game tied for first and with a strong outing by Collmenter, could take sole possession of first. Collmenter and the rest of the Diamondbacks’ did not shy away from the task at hand as they opened the first-inning by scoring three-runs.
Collmenter (7-7) has been receiving too much criticism as starter for this club. His numbers are not THAT bad for a number-FOUR pitcher in his FIRST major league season. A 3.15-ERA is not something to look over; the starter who should be worried about his status for a possible role in post-season play is Jason Marquis who has struggled since arriving to Arizona.
Collmenter had his best start in a pivotal game that gave Arizona first. He went seven-innings of four-hit ball while surrendering two-runs in the fifth. Houston got its first four batters on base leading to its two-runs. Brian Bogusevic singled and later took third on Jimmy Paredes double. Clint Barmes and Humberto Quintero both had back-to-back RBI-singles to give Houston its only runs of the evening.
The Diamondbacks’ got rolling fast, scoring three in the first-inning which was all started by Willie Bloomquist’s leadoff solo homerun. Ryan Roberts doubled, but then two-outs and two-walks were issued to load the bases for Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt’s single brought in two-runs to give Arizona a 3-0 lead after one-inning of play.
Both Justin Upton and Chris Young doubled in the fifth to add a fourth run, jumping out to a 4-2 lead.
The D-Backs added some insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth-innings to further increase their lead, 6-3.
Young’s RBI-double and Gerardo Parra’s RBI-triple allowed the D-Backs to take a 6-3 lead entering the final inning of play.
David Hernandez came in to close out the ninth and did so with no problems to report as he got all three batters out easily while throwing just 11-pitches as Arizona took first from the Giants’ once again this season.
Arizona will close out their four-game set with the Houston Astros this evening as Joe Saunders gets the start. With a strong outing and smart offensive patience, the Diamondbacks could gain a full one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants.
PHOENIX — The National League West battle has fully gotten underway as both the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants are poised to remain neck-and-neck to the bitter end. The Giants shutout the Pirates Monday, while the D-Backs made some of their own thunder as they erased a six-run deficit to come out on top of the Houston Astros to remain just a ½-game back of the division-leading Giants.
Arizona starter, Jason Marquis, had his second consecutive poor outing since joining the club via the end of the trade deadline. Marquis last just through four-innings of play after he surrendered seven-runs on nine-hits. He struck out just two while allowing two homeruns in the third.
Marquis put Arizona in a deep hole early; but that’s the key word, “early” as the Diamondbacks’ had plenty of innings to pile up some runs.
The Diamondbacks’ scored early as Justin Upton’s two-out single would come around the entire diamond to score the first run of the game of in the first on Miguel Montero’s RBI-double.
However, Marquis lost his composure from the second-inning on. Astros’, Brian Bogusevic and Angel Sanchez reached on back-to-back singles with Humberto Quintero tying the game 1-all on his RBI-single.
In the third, J. D. Martinez’s solo homerun gave Houston a 2-1 lead. That was then followed by Bogusevic’s first career homerun, a two-run blast, to give the Astros’ a 4-1 lead.
For those who thought it could not get worse for a team vying for a division crown, it did as Marqius allowed three more runs to come home. With two-outs already recorded, a fielding error by Willie Bloomquist kept the inning alive for Houston; which usually means in baseball language a high scoring inning for the opponent.
Martinez doubled to put two Astros’ into scoring position. Both runners eventually came home on Carlos Lee’s two-RBI single. Bogusevic was all sorts of trouble in the early going as he had another big hit, a double to bring in Lee, giving the worst team in the majors a 7-1 lead over the Diamondbacks.
But like all good teams fighting for a playoff berth this late in the season, they usually find ways to come back and win ball games, this scenario was no different.
In the bottom of the fifth, Arizona had its first three batters all reach on singles before Ryan Roberts ended the streak on a pop-up. But All-Star, Upton delivered yet again, this time a double to bring in two-runs while allowing Arizona to still have two runners in scoring position with just one-out. Montero swung away at the first pitch he saw after the Upton hit, and it paid off as it landed in right-field to give the Diamondbacks’ two more runs, now only trailing 7-5.
Arizona in the sixth would put up another four spot on the board as Upton would deliver another key hit. A leadoff single and double allowed Bloomquist to drive in two-runs and tie the game 7-7. With two-outs in the inning, Upton’s blast broke the tie and gave the Diamondbacks their first lead of the night, 9-7.
However, these Astros’ would not go away easily as Jimmy Paredes also sent his first career homerun out of the park; at least some players on Houston had something to celebrate.
In the eighth, Arizona would add an additional two-runs to put the knockout punch on the Astros’ despite another solo run crossing the plate in the ninth.
Both Ryan Roberts and Kelly Johnson had RBI-doubles to put Arizona out further ahead, leading 11-8. J. J. Putz entered for the save and got a lucky bounce that otherwise could have led to a disastrous inning. After getting the leadoff batter, Putz allowed back-to-back singles which was then followed by Clint Barmes ground-rule double. If it had stayed in the park, there is no idea how many more runs could have scored. But, Putz calmed down, getting the next two batters out as Arizona would celebrate overcoming only their second six-run deficit in franchise history.
While all seems good and happy in Phoenix, there is one disappointing factor occurring at the moment and that is the attendance at Chase Field.
It is now the middle of August and the Diamondbacks’ have proven themselves to be contenders in this division. Yet, the stadium was only 36% full. In most other cities it would be impossible to get a ticket with the only availability being standing room only. It is time to go out and support your D-Backs fans. As I post this blog, Arizona leads Houston by 3-2 after five. With the victory, the Diamondbacks will have a ½-game lead over the defending champs.
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