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.
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