The ever so unpredictable Diamondbacks were able to take two of three against the lowly Padres thanks in large part to excellent starting pitching. With the series win, the team has won three of four and improved their record to 25-29 sitting eight games behind the first place Dodgers. The Dbacks finished their six game road trip at 3-3.
GOOD: Starting Pitching. Wade Miley, Daniel Hudson, and Trevor Cahill put together an impressive series with all three of them throwing into the eighth inning and Cahill throwing a complete game shutout on Sunday to cap it off. This coming on the heels of another impressive series by the starters in San Francisco earlier in the week and it is beginning to look like the starting rotation we all expected on Opening Day. While Miley’s final line doesn’t look very impressive: 7 1/3 IP 6 R 4 ER and a homerun allowed, he was excellent through seven strong innings allowing just one run while scattering three hits. It was the longest start of the year for all three starters and gave the bullpen a much needed break.
*Trevor Cahill was provided a huge boost of confidence on Sunday afternoon hurling the second complete game shutout in his career. His last came on August 2, 2010 while he was with Oakland. His sinkerball was extremely effective, inducing 18 groundball outs and his defense orchestrating four ground ball double plays on the day. Considering Cahill had been 1-5 with a 4.69 ERA in his last eight starts, Sunday’s gem couldn’t have come at a better time for him and the team moving forward.
*Willie Bloomquist again put together a multi-hit effort against the Padres this weekend. He finished 5 for 9 over the two games he played in and is hitting .409 over the last seven days. He now has multi-hit games in nine of his last thirteen. Bloomquist and John Mcdonald have combined to post the best fielding percentage at the shortstop position in the National League as well. With numbers like this you would have to question why Gibson would sit him three of the last eight games.
*Paul Goldschmidt is now playing above the level he was last summer when he was called up in August. Since May 14th, the second year first baseman has raised his average 59 points to .277. In fact, from that date forward Goldie has had one hitless day- an 0 for 4 with 3 K’s. Following that disappointing day though Goldschmidt has reeled off a career high 12 game hit streak batting .419 with four homeruns –three in his last four games- as well as six doubles. This is the type of production the Dbacks offense had been missing all season and hopefully a sign that the sophomore is being more patient at the plate.
BAD: Justin Upton was given his first off day in over a month on Saturday as Gibson sees him ‘pressing’ at the plate. It would appear as something has the right fielder struggling as he was just 2 for 8 in the series and has struck out in seven of his last twenty at bats. Upton continues to struggle with inconsistency on the year and each time all signs point to the Upton of 2011, the slugger falls back into a rut. His defense has been awfully shaky as well this year never looking 100% confident going back on fly balls.
*Aaron Hill can officially join the team in the ‘streaky’ section of the clubhouse. It wasn’t too long ago the second baseman was on a roll finishing up the Brewers series 10 for his last 18. Since then though, he’s 2 for 20 and was hitless against the Padres going 0 for 8. I’m sure with most players, over 162 games you would see these types of dips and streaks but watching it series by series puts it under a microscope and certainly creates issues within the lineup.
* Sidenote: Lineup Card. Hill continually comes to the ballpark with his name in a different spot in the lineup. It’s hard to see what Gibson is really doing with his lineup this year (not sure he knows either) but here are Hill’s spots in the lineup as of late: 8th, 2nd, 8th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 6th. The bulk of his at bats have come while batting 2nd (.248 avg) but hitting in the six hole has been his most productive with a .529 AVG. Just looking at the stats- not opposing pitchers or home/away- you would assume the carousal of movement he deals with is affecting his production. Gibson keeps saying he wants to put out a more consistent lineup card but hasn’t come close to making that the truth yet.
*Ryan Roberts has seen much of the same as he has hit in all spots but the #3 and #4 holes. Obviously we’ve seen Roberts struggle throughout the year more consistently than Hill, but of his 150 at bats, he has not seen more than 39 at bats in any one slot. He has been most successful leading off and hitting seventh- .286 and .282 respectively.
UGLY: Base Stealing. This is becoming embarrassing. In the Padres series Chris Young was caught stealing second on Friday, and Bloomquist was caught stealing on Saturday. The Dbacks have now been caught stealing 21 times on the year, most in all of baseball. They continue to run themselves out of innings and have seen momentum swings as a result. Following Friday’s gaff by Young with the inadvertent bench clearing near-brawl, Young was thrown out stealing second to end the inning. Bottom half of that inning? The Padres drop six runs on the Dbacks to break a 1-1 tie and run away with a victory. There’s a difference between being aggressive and just plain reckless. Until the team can remember how to steal bases, I would recommend staying put.
*RISP. This was another ugly weekend of trying to get runners in from scoring position. They were a combined 3 for 23 throughout the series peaking at a miserable 1 for 13 on Saturday. Yes, the team won on Saturday, but let’s not forget how: bases loaded Balk to tie the game and then a bases loaded walk the following inning to take the lead. Not that I’m complaining, because sometimes it’s those types of plays you need to get you through a road trip.
A lot of this goes back to what was mentioned here following the Giants series: unproductive outs. The Dbacks are just not playing small ball very well. Rarely, if ever, do you see a SAC bunt from this team and we’ve already discussed the base stealing issues. Unproductive outs is a sign of undisciplined at bats, which I attribute- in a way- to poor coaching.
NOTES: Diamondbacks pitchers have combined to strike out the fewest batters of any other N.L. team and 27th overall.
*The team comes home to begin a three game set against the Rockies. In their five head to head games this season the Rockies have scored 30 runs- a six run average. Hopefully leaving the friendly confines of Coors Field will aide in lowering that average this week.
Now bring on the Rockies!!
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Tags: Aaron Hill Arizona Diamondbacks Chris Young Colorado Rockies D-backs Daniel Hudson Justin Upton Kirk Gibson Lineup Card National League West Paul Goldschmidt Ryan Roberts Trevor Cahill Wade Miley Willie Bloomquist