Sweep wraps up exciting week for D-backs
Last week’s D-backs Digest provided the script. This week the Diamondbacks followed it to a tee. It was critical for the D-backs to win both series this week – and that’s exactly what they did. After dropping the opener against Houston, the D-backs responded by winning the next six – including a weekend three-game sweep of the New York Mets. Taking six of seven to close the homestand propelled the D-backs into first place in the NL West.
What a difference a week makes
When the week began, the Diamondbacks were still a half game back in pursuit of the San Francisco Giants. Now the D-backs have a two-game lead and plenty of momentum heading into a difficult, long road trip. The D-backs will have to play extremely well on the road in order for the two-game cushion to hold up.
The road trip starts with three games in Philadelphia and Atlanta, then wraps up with a four-game series in Washington against the Nationals. Fortunately, the Giants will spend the week on the road as well with a four games in Atlanta followed by three in Houston. It will be interesting to see if the D-backs can stay hot on the road and also continue to dominate the NL East. So far on the season the D-backs are 32-27 on the road and 14-8 versus NL East opponents. The next 10 days will tell a lot about how the remainder of the season will play out.
D-backs dramatic win on Thursday was Golden
The Diamondbacks win on Thursday night could prove to be one of the turning points in the season. In many ways, the Houston Astros put up more of a fight in the four-game series than expected. The Astros came into the series sporting by far the worst record in the majors.
Houston responded by winning the series opener handily on Monday night. On Tuesday the D-backs needed a heroic comeback to pull off the victory. After a convincing win Wednesday, the D-backs appeared to be finding their grove once again. The D-backs came into game four on Thursday with a chance to extend their NL West lead to a full game with a win. A loss would mean only salvaging a disappointing split in the series and drop the D-backs into a tie with the idle San Francisco Giants.
Once again the D-backs found themselves trying to dig themselves out of a deep hole. The D-backs were down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning. After pushing two runs across in the 8th, the D-backs came to bat in the bottom of the 9th still chasing two runs.
With two outs and a runner on, rookie Paul Goldschmidt was called on to pinch hit. Actually, he was called on to hit a miraculous two-run home run to tie the game – and somehow he delivered. Goldschmidt crushed a 2-2 pitch off the façade near Friday’s Front Row that tied the game. Quite a remarkable feat for a player making his first appearance as a pinch hitter, playing in only his ninth big league game and doing so during a pennant chase. Not often do you see a player square up a ball like that under such dramatic circumstances.
The D-backs went on to win the game with a walk-off, three-run homer by Chris Young in the 10th inning, ending one of the most exciting and important games of the season. The D-backs wrapped up a 3-1 series win and headed into Friday with a one game lead in the division.
(Kyle Maki made our cut. Please welcome him to the team.)
It’s disappointing for local fans that there is not more D-back representation on display. Justin Upton was set to be the lone D-backs representative until it was announced that catcher Miguel Montero was added as a late replacement. J-Up was snubbed from the Home Run Derby and pitcher Ian Kennedy failed to accumulate enough fan votes to earn the “Final Vote”.
I like gooooooold
Attendees at Monday’s Home Run Derby will have a chance to bring home a valuable souvenir. MLB has announced that a portion of baseballs infused with real gold will be used during the annual exhibition. Each ball carries a retail value of about $150. A little advice to those sitting in the bleachers—you better bring your glove and maybe a bodyguard.
Midsummer Classic comes at a good time
The D-backs continue to surprise the league and have maintained their position in the standings despite being in the midst of a grueling stretch of games where the majority have been on the road. Like many teams at this point in the season, the D-backs are nursing some injuries and have been without the services of closer J.J. Putz since June 29.
The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for Putz. After the first two months of the season, Putz was putting up some of the best numbers in the league amongst closers. Since that time, his numbers have taken a dip and he eventually landed on the 15 day DL with tendinitis is his throwing elbow. This didn’t come as a surprise as it became apparent during his last couple appearances that J.J. just didn’t have the same stuff he displayed earlier this season. The D-backs will be excited to have their closer back in the pen, but in the meantime David Hernandez has been solid handling closer duties.
Well deserved R & R
Hopefully the D-backs will take a few days to relax and re-energize in preparation for a long stretch run. As proud as the organization deserves to be at this point, it’s important that they’re not satisfied. The D-backs need to stay hungry and continue to play with the same passion that they’ve demonstrated thus far. If that happens, D-backs fans should remain optimistic heading into the second half of the season.
D-backs look to continue halfway successful season
From a pure success standpoint, the D-backs have exceeded most expectations so far this season. However, for the 2011 campaign to be considered a complete success, the D-backs will have to continue performing at the same level for the second half of the season.
The Diamondbacks are currently three games out of first place in the NL West chasing only the San Francisco Giants. Prior to the start of the season, it’s hard to imagine anyone predicting the D-backs remaining in the pennant chase up to the midway point of the season. Of course it would be ideal to have a ten game lead right now, but given the teams recent futility the last couple seasons, the current standings are a pleasant surprise and more than anyone could have asked for.
The Arizona Diamondbacks looked to bounce back after their west coast road trip, as they began their home stand against the San Diego Padres. After losing the first game, the D-backs would split the two game series before taking on the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta, boasting a pretty solid record, was expected to sweep Arizona, but there was one small technicality; the Braves left their broom and their game at home. The D-backs would win both games against the Braves as they prepared to face the Minnesota Twins in interleague play.
One Sweep Deserves Another
After the D-backs were able to sweep the short series against the Braves, the team would host the Twins. With several local Minnesota transplants, the Interleague games brought solid crowds to watch the close games as the two teams went head to head. In the first game of the series, the D-backs would be able to get their lead to four runs before the Twins would make a valiant effort to stage a comeback in the ninth inning. The D-backs would hold on to win the game by one run.
On Saturday night, Kelly Johnson would hit his third career grand slam in what would prove to be the pivotal point in the game for the Diamondbacks. Arizona would go on to win the game by three runs. Sunday’s pitching duel between Daniel Hudson and Francisco Liriano kept the game close. Juan Miranda would homer for the D-backs helping with the score as the D-backs take the game and J.J. Putz secured his 12th save of the season.
Rock the Rockies
The Diamondbacks road trip will begin with a double header against the Colorado Rockies. This series is of extreme importance as the D-backs are right on the heels of the Rockies for second place in the National League West. The second half of the week will be spent in Houston as the D-backs take on the Astros.
Previous week’s schedule
5/16/11 Padres 8, D-BACKS 4
5/17/11 D-BACKS 6, Padres 1
5/18/11 D-BACKS 5, Braves 4
5/19/11 D-BACKS 2, Braves 1
5/20/11 D-BACKS 8, Twins 7
5/21/11 D-BACKS 9, Twins 6
5/22/11 D-BACKS 3, Twins 2
This week’s schedule
5/24/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 12:10 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/24/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/25/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/26/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/27/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 5:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/28/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 4:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park, MLB.TV
5/29/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 11:05 a.m., Minute Maid Park, Fox Sports Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks’ visit to the west coast was a rough one as they struggle to defeat a couple of their west coast rivals. Despite winning the last two games of the week’s games, the D-backs lost some close games against some pretty important teams. With an opportunity to make some moves in the National League West standings, it was particularly rough on the team as they return home for a seven-game home stand.
While the team is about average in the majors in pitching and the relief staff has been doing better than a year prior, the relief staff would be the area that would that would contribute to most of the losses.
Battling the Champs
In the defending World Series Champion Giants’ sweep of Arizona during the three game trip to the San Francisco Bay, all three games were close ones as they struggled to knock in some runs against one of the best pitching staffs in the league. While dropping all three games in close fashion, the Diamondbacks were able to keep the games close as they would lose by one run in each of the games. Errors would plague the team in their final game against the Giants as they would prepare to head back down south for the weekend to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We Love L.A. Kind of… Okay, Not Really
In L.A. the Diamondbacks made a valiant effort to comeback in the first game of the series as they were shut out by Clayton Kershaw and his season high 11 strikeouts. In the eighth and ninth innings, the D-backs would begin to stage a comeback, but would not be able to produce enough runs to win the game. The final two games of the road trip included much needed wins for the Diamondbacks as they were able to shut out the Dodgers on Saturday. Josh Collmenter had an outstanding performance as he throws six scoreless innings against the Dodgers, leading the D-backs to a one to nothing victory. In the final game of the series, D-backs’ ace pitcher Ian Kennedy. The former USC pitcher would feel right at home as he earned the win with six solid innings of pitching while his team would contribute with a strong four-run second inning in the win.
What’s On Tap
The D-backs begin the week four games back in the National League West as they prepare for a two game series against the San Diego Padres. With some wins against San Diego, the D-backs look to make some improvements in the standings. The Braves of Atlanta will then arrive in Phoenix to play at Chase Field for three games before the D-backs weekend series against the Minnesota Twins in Interleague play. With the Braves currently in third in their division and the Padres just about even with wins and losses, the Twins are the worst performing team in the American League.
Garden Gnomes Storm Chase Field
In other news, 15,000 garden gnomes will be storming Chase Field on Saturday while the D-backs offer their weekend promotion during the Twins and Diamondbacks series. Backtracking to Friday night, the Diamondbacks will have their Friday Night Fireworks show upon the completion of the game. With the Diamondbacks continuing to be one of the best values in baseball concessions and the weather still being relatively kind to Phoenix, it would be a wonderful weekend to get out to Chase Field for a ball game.
For ticket information, see the D-backs website. Take the light rail to the next home game! Chase Field is convenient to the 3rd Street stations — Washington Street heading westbound and Jefferson Street heading eastbound.
Previous week’s schedule
5/10/11 Giants 1, D-BACKS 0
5/11/11 Giants 4, D-BACKS 3
5/12/11 Giants 3, D-BACKS 2
5/13/11 Dodgers 4, D-BACKS 3
5/14/11 D-BACKS 1, Dodgers 0
5/15/11 D-BACKS 4, Dodgers 1
This week’s schedule
5/16/11 Padres @ D-BACKS, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/17/11 Padres @ D-BACKS, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/18/11 Braves @ D-BACKS, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/19/11 Braves @ D-BACKS, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/20/11 Twins @ D-BACKS, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/21/11 Twins @ D-BACKS, 7:10 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/21/11 Twins @ D-BACKS, 1:10 p.m., Chase Field, Fox Sports Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks closed a successful week as they continue their National League West road trip against some division rivals.
Rocky Mountain High
The D-backs started the week off with a victory against the first place Colorado Rockies in the Mile High City. Justin Upton drove in the game-winning run, belting a homer to secure the game for the Diamondbacks. In game two of the series, the D-backs tried to stage a late game comeback, but lost to the Rockies by a score of four to six. In the third and final game of the series, Upton played the hero role once again as he drove in the game winning run with a walk-off single. The Diamondbacks took the series and the momentum to San Diego to face the Padres.
San Diego marked the beginning of the D-backs’ California road trip and the final series of the week. In the first game of the series, both teams took the game into extra innings where the D-backs would walk in the game winning run for the Padres in the eleventh inning. In the second game of the series, Daniel Hudson shut out the Padres as the D-backs won the game by a score of six to nothing. In the final game of the San Diego series, the Diamondbacks were unable to bounce back from an immediate four-run deficit. Although they scored a third run in the eighth inning, the D-backs were unable to regain the lead.
Oh, What a Relief?!
As the Diamondbacks prepare for the remainder of their California road trip, one item of note is that of the performance of the bullpen. It has been a while since Arizona fans have seen any production out of the Arizona bullpen, but the relief has been looking pretty solid, allowing very few earned runs to date.
On Tap This Week
The D-backs will head north to San Francisco for a three game series against the Giants before returning to Southern California to face Andre Ethier (of St. Mary’s High School and ASU) and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Previous week’s schedule
5/3/11 D-BACKS 4, Rockies 3
5/4/11 Rockies 6, D-BACKS 4
5/5/11 D-BACKS 3, Rockies 2
5/6/11 Padres 4, D-BACKS 3
5/7/11 D-BACKS 6, Padres 0
5/8/11 Padres 4, D-BACKS 3
This week’s schedule
5/10/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 7:15 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/11/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 7:15 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/12/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 12:45 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/13/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 7:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona
5/14/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 4:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona
5/15/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 1:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona