29 May 2011
(Recap from guest contributor Justin Emerson)
Two Sundays ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were 16-22, and not being in last place felt like an accomplishment. Last Sunday, the Diamondbacks were 23-23, and being at .500 felt like an accomplishment. They were in 3rd place, about to start a 7 game roadtrip. Now, here we are after an incredible 13-2 run, the D'Backs now sit in first place for the first time (excluding opening days) since September 2008. First place! Lets run down this past week, a roadtrip to Colorado and Houston, a big roadtrip. The D'Backs have proven they can win at home, and shown that they can keep rolling on the road. Let’s recap a magical roadtrip.
Tuesday- Game 1 vs. Colorado: It started off promising, with the D'Backs taking a 3-0 lead after the top of the 3rd, backing Josh Collmenter. It looked really promising when Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa was forced to leave in the 3rd inning, and the Dbacks were primed to take this game. Unfortunately it went downhill from there. The Rockies hit a pair of solo homers in the fourth, and then added 10 more runs in the 5th through 7th. Troy Tulowitzki was able to actually do something against the D'Backs, driving in two runs, and Carlos Gonzalez, who seems to hit a homer every time he plays this team, hit two. We even had another reliever join Sam Demel on the DL: Juan Gutierrez. But really the D'Backs let this game slip away. Too many walks, and two untimely errors led to the Rockies taking Game 1. All in all, not a good game. 12-4 final.
Player of the Game: Carlos Gonzalez
Tuesday- Game 2 vs. Colorado: We all knew that Joe Saunders wouldn’t be terrible forever; he wasn’t terrible this night. 8 spectacular innings led to his first win of the season and his first road win since he joined the team last July. In the third inning with the game tied at one (courtesy of a Kelly Johnson home run in the 1st and a Jason Giambi homer in the 2nd) and Dexter Fowler on third, a Saunders pitch went to the backstop. Fowler, Saunders, and the ball all arrived at the same time, and a nasty collision ensued. Saunders rolled onto his head and neck, but held onto the ball for the out. He seemed locked in after that “manly play” (thank Daron Sutton for repeating that over and over), and cruised through the 8th, only allowing one more run. Xavier Nady had an RBI, and Johnson, Stephen Drew, and Miguel Montero had back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles in the 6th. J.J. Putz locked it down in the 9th to preserve a 5-2 win.
Player of the Game: Joe Saunders
Wednesday - Game 3 vs. Colorado: The D'Backs entered this game knowing that if they won, they would claim sole possession of 2nd place. Enter Ian Kennedy. Ian did exactly what we’ve grown accustom to seeing of him: pitch the ball, and pitch it well. He spit a good combination of fastballs, cutters, and that mean changeup to keep the Rockies hitters guessing. He dueled Jason Hammel who always seems to beat the D'Backs, and it was quite a duel. The Rox hit with the preemptive strike in the 4th, a sac fly by Todd Helton. For the second straight night, the sixth is when the Snakes did their damage. An error allowed Ryan Roberts to reach, followed by another extra base hit by Johnson. Justin Upton’s RBI groundout and Chris Young’s bloop hit gave them a 2-1 lead (both unearned to Hammel) that they would not give up. Kennedy cruised until the 8th when the game got interesting. Helton hit a ball about a thousand feet foul before he made the second out of the inning. The heart-stopping moment of the game was when Ty Wigginton blasted one toward the fountains in center. What looked like a sure game tie-er was brought back to earth by a perfectly timed, home run robbing leap by CY. So Young not only knocked in the game winning run, but had a game saving catch. Putz then locked down the 9th. The now second place Dbacks improved to 25-24 with a 2-1 final score.
Players of the Game: Ian Kennedy/Chris Young
Thursday- Game 4 vs. Colorado: Making his second start of the year, Micah Owings was met by rookie Clayton Mortensen. The story of the game was Montero’s batting practice session before the game. He said that he may have found something that was wrong with his swing, and that he thinks he can correct it. Did he ever. Montero’s three run bomb in the 4th broke open a 0-0 tie, and the D'Backs never looked back. They matched a TuLo RBI with Melvin Mora RBI of their own. The Rox scored 2 in the 7th, bringing the game within one, and once again it appeared the D'Backs were in for a 1 run fight. Instead Johnson got another big hit, blasting a two run homer into right field. Putz was unavailable for the game after being used so often, so it was David Hernandez who saved the game giving Owings his first win of the year, a 6-3 win on get away day from Denver.
Player of the Game: Kelly Johnson
Friday- Game 5 vs. Houston: So we were able to take 3 of 4 from the Rockies, now we travel to the Lone Star State for a shootout with the Astros. This game started off just about as bad as it could with Daniel Hudson giving up 6 runs in 4 innings. But then the Diamondbacks started clawing away, something that did not happen often last year. Juan Miranda hit two run homers in two straight innings, bringing the score to 6-4. Johnson hit an RBI single, and then Drew walked to load the bases. Then a CY swinging bunt made national headlines. Astros pitcher Wilton Lopez flipped the ball to catcher Humberto Quintero, who got leveled by Roberts charging home. It bore an eerie resemblance to the Buster Posey/Scott Cousins collision merely days earlier. Quintero was helped off the field, and thankfully suffered only a sprain. With the D'Backs leading 7-6 in the 9th, Putz came in and predictably closed the game. A miraculous comeback for the D'Backs ends win a 7-6 win.
Player of the Game: Juan Miranda
Saturday- Game 6 vs. Houston: After clinching a winning roadtrip and fresh off a 6-0 comeback win, the D'Backs turned to Zach Duke, making his first start of the year off the DL. Duke couldn’t have been much better than he was this night. He retired the first 10 Astros he faced, and ended the night with 7 innings, 3 hits, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. And for good measure, he added to a 3-0 lead with an opposite field, two out, three run home run in the 4th. Gerardo Parra also had a homer, and the D'Backs routed the Astros, 11-3.
Player of the Game: Zach Duke
Sunday- Game 7 vs. Houston: There’s something about this team that lets it exude an aura of invincibility. This game didn’t start out so well, with a pitchers’ duel being broken by a questionable balk call that gave the Astros the lead as well as got manager Kirk Gibson ejected in the 4th. Then J.A. Happ did his Zach Duke impersonation with a home run and had the Astros up 2-0. Then a triple by Justin Upton and a CY sac fly brought the D'Backs within 1. In the eighth, a Ryan Roberts one out single set the stage for the dramatics. Upton struck out and Roberts stole second. After falling behind CY 3-0, they intentionally walked him. Acting manager Alan Trammel elected to stay with Xavier Nady, who was 0-3 on the day. He doubled down the line. Roberts scored easily, and here comes Young, the relay from Keppinger, the slide, the tag, SAFE, D'Backs lead 3-2! Hernandez struck out Brett Wallace with two on and two out in the bottom half of the inning, and Putz (tired of hearing this yet? Me neither) slammed the door closed on a sweep of the Houston Astros by your first place Arizona Diamondbacks! 3-2 the win, 0.5 games the lead in the NL West.
Player of the Game: Xavier Nady