As the Diamondbacks prepared for their first of four games against the Mets at Chase Field I was talking with my buddy- Mets fan- about the series saying I was hoping for a split in the series despite the fact the Mets had lost eleven of their last twelve games and dropped six straight heading to Arizona. As the Dbacks took the field Sunday, the team had an opportunity to take three of four and win their third straight series as they headed to L.A. on Monday to face the Dodgers who completed a sweep of the Giants to regain a share of first place in the N.L. West. But, alas, that wasn’t the case and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey shut down the offense and the Dbacks settled for a split in the four game series.
Record Notes: With the loss on Sunday the team again fell to .500 at 51-51 trailing both the Giants and Dodgers by 4.5 games for the division lead. Their home record fell to 30-24 but the team is still 7-3 in their last ten and have been playing good baseball overall.
*In their two losses against the Mets, the offense was held to just one run in each game. They are now 1-36 when scoring two or fewer runs. In six of their eight losses in the second half they have been held to one or fewer runs.
*They have scored at least five runs in all of their nine wins since the All Star break- three of those with double digit runs.
*They scored 61 total runs in their seven wins during the ten game home stand. In their three losses the team managed just four runs. A bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team really- at least that’s been consistent all year.
*Through July 29th 2011 the team was 57-49 after losing their first game of a series against the Dodgers in L.A. They would win the next two in the series and take two of three from the Giants in San Fran the following series.
Transactions: Kevin Towers has been trying to plug-and-play the third base position all season long from Ryan Roberts to Josh Bell to Willie Bloomquist to John McDonald to Ryan Wheeler. On Sunday it was announced that the Diamondbacks acquired Astros third baseman Chris Johnson for outfielders Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering- both minor league prospects (AA). The 27 year old Johnson is hitting .279 with an OBP of .329 hitting 21 doubles and 8 homeruns. His downfalls this season have been his strikeouts (92) and his errors (13). Hopefully moving from one of the worst teams in baseball the last few seasons to a contender can bring a new fire to Johnson down the stretch and help solve the problems at third base. The subsequent move that will create a roster spot has not been announced yet. Towers said he isn’t done looking to improve this year’s team with the trade deadline looming on Tuesday.
GOOD: Bullpen. The bullpen was lights out in this series allowing just one earned run over 11 1/3 innings while striking out thirteen. J.J. Putz recorded his 19th save on Saturday striking out the side- his tenth straight successful save. Brad Bergeson allowed his first run as a Diamondback on Sunday but has been a nice addition so far. Takashi Saito’s presence in the bullpen has proved valuable already as he had a pair of scoreless appearances against the Mets.
BAD: Starting Pitching. There are couple good and bad points here. The bad points include fifteen earned runs allowed in 24 2/3 innings including five homeruns (5.58 ERA). Only Saunders made it through seven innings of the four starters in the series despite taking the loss Sunday. In three of the four games the starter for the Dbacks allowed two earned runs in the first inning as well. Only Kennedy didn’t allow a first inning run. The good news is that even in the two losses, the starters still pitched well enough to keep their team in the game with a chance to win.
*Wade Miley took the loss on Thursday night allowing nine hits and three earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. While the three runs really isn’t that bad of an outing the Mets were hitting hard line drives off the rookie from the first batter in the game to the last and he was just plain out-dueled by Mets rookie Matt Harvey who mowed through the Dbacks in his major league debut. Miley dropped to 11-6 on the year and has now allowed 19 earned runs in his last 28 1/3 innings including 5 homeruns (6.09 ERA). Previous to that Miley had been almost unhittable allowing just 4 earned runs in 30 2/3 innings with a single homerun allowed. Hopefully August will bring the left hander some better luck.
*Ian Kennedy was good but not great in his start Saturday as he failed to make it out of the seventh (although I personally think Gibson pulled him too early) for the first time in three starts and allowed three homeruns- all solo- to Ike Davis in the game. It was the first time Ian has allowed three homeruns in a game since June 11, 2011 against the Marlins and first time a single player has accomplished the feat. He has also allowed two homeruns in a game four times this season for a total of eighteen in 2012. A year ago he surrendered nineteen all season. The ace did strikeout nine Mets marking the third time this season he has recorded nine or more strikeouts and first since June 5th against the Rockies. He collected his ninth win in the game marking the first time Kennedy has been over .500 since he was 3-2 on May 8th.
UGLY: Offensive Strikeouts. The offense was fanned a total of 42 times over the four game set including 16 times on Thursday facing Matt Harvey in his debut as he collected 11 on his own. In their last seven games the team has had at least eight strikeouts in six of those and recorded double digit K’s on three occasions.
*3-4-5 Hitters. If we take out Friday’s offensive explosion where these hitters did combine to go 5 for 12 with 4 runs, the heart of the lineup was just 6 for 31 (.194) in the other three contests- two losses- with 14 strikeouts. Given the way Kubel, Goldschmidt and even Upton have been hitting lately this is more of an interesting stat than something to really be concerned with.
*Stephen Drew continues to falter at the plate and finished the Mets series just 2 for 12 with 4 strikeouts and 2 runs scored. He is now 6 for his last 36 (.167) and hasn’t connected on his first long ball yet either- a span of 79 at bats in 23 games.
*Jason Kubel has been one of the hottest hitters in the major leagues over the last two months but he was just 2 for 14 in this series with zero RBI’s and seven strikeouts. He surpassed the century mark in K’s on the year (101) and has now gone four games without a homerun or RBI. While that doesn’t sound like a long streak- and it really isn’t- it is the longest Kubel has gone without a homerun since the end of June and the longest without an RBI since he went from May 1-12th without knocking in another Diamondback. Tells you how impressive the left fielder has been for the ballclub huh?
NOTES: Josh Collmenter allowed five earned over his six innings on Friday but did collect the win. It took him 30 2/3 innings before that outing to accumulate five earned runs. Collmenter is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in July as of Sunday.
*Fast Willie Bloomquist Homerun Watch continues beyond another series as he’s now gone 77 games and 304 at bats without a homerun. It’s coming though- soon too. Drew may be taking over the reins for the homerun watch this week or at least joining Willie in the ranks.
*The team will begin a ten game road trip starting Monday night against the L.A. Dodgers who are now tied for first after sweeping the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. The Dodgers haven’t allowed a run in their last two games outscoring the Giants 14-0. Trevor Cahill will take on Aaron Harang to try to get the Dbacks back to the top of the N.L. West for the second consecutive year heading into August.
Now bring on the Dodgers!!!
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Topics: 3-4-5 Hitters, Aaron Harang, Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field, Chris Young, D-backs, Dbacks, Fast Willie Bloomquist Homerun Watch, Ian Kennedy, Ike Davis, J.J. Putz, Jason Kubel, Josh Collmenter, Kevin Towers, Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles Dodgers, National League West, Ryan Roberts, Ryan Wheeler, San Francisco Giants, Stephen Drew, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Willie Bloomquist