When the Arizona Diamondbacks headed to Philadelphia for a weekend series they were cautiously optimistic following a three game sweep of the L.A. Dodgers. When they took game one on Friday night to improve their current road trip record to 4-0 it seemed like a roll was inevitable- and then they ran into Roy Halladay. And then Cliff Lee. Suddenly the team is heading to Pittsburgh for a four game set riding a two game skid. But things could be worse- we are very much in the race for the N.L. West and the pitching for the Diamondbacks has been more consistent as of late than it has been all season- something the Diamondbacks front office believes to be the cornerstone for a team heading to the playoffs.
Record Notes: With the loss on Sunday the team dropped its record to 55-53 and fell four games behind the Giants as both the Dodgers and Giants swept their opponents over the weekend.
*The offense was shutout on Saturday 4-0 marking the sixth time this season they have been shutout- all after June 4th.
*Of their ten losses in the second half, in eight of them the offense has plated two or fewer runs. It was the 37th time in their 53 losses that they were held to two or fewer runs.
*With Sunday’s 5-4 walk-off loss the Dbacks fell to 8-15 in one run games- a year ago this team was 28-16 in one run games.
GOOD: Starting Pitching. All three starters put together quality starts over the weekend and have now had six straight quality starts going 4-1 in those games. There were a couple mental mistakes that cost them including a bases loaded walk in the fourth by Joe Saunders to make it 2-0 on Saturday and on Sunday when Trevor Cahill threw a wild pitch with runners on second and third to cut his lead to 3-2 after the Dbacks put up three runs in the top half of the second inning.
*Ian Kennedy won his fourth straight start on Friday night hurling six innings and allowing just two earned runs. Kennedy retired just one batter via the strikeout marking the first time he was credited with a win and recorded just one strikeout since he did so against the Mets on July 19th, 2010. He had one strikeout against the Cardinals in April 2011 but lasted only three innings while getting pounded for nine earned runs. It was also his fourth straight quality start improving his record in the second half to 4-1. Two side notes about Kennedy that shows he still isn’t the ace we grew accustomed to last year: he hit his tenth batter on Friday night matching a career high set in 2010 and also allowed his 19th homerun on the year matching last years total. His career high for homeruns allowed is 26 set in 2010.
*J.J. Putz recorded his 11th straight save on Friday night closing out a perfect evening where the relievers threw three shutout innings without allowing a hit. It was Putz’s 20th save on the year marking the second consecutive year with 20+ saves. After a dismal start to his season that saw his ERA balloon to over 10.00, the closer has not allowed an earned run since June 19th when he took the loss against the Mariners allowing two ninth inning runs- a span of 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
*Chris Johnson is making sure his series against the Dodgers wasn’t a fluke as he added another RBI single on Friday and smashed a two run homerun off of Cliff Lee on Sunday. He is hitting .381 with three homeruns and 10 RBI’s in his first six games as a Diamondback.
BAD: Aaron Hill has cooled off over the last couple weeks and has not recorded an RBI in his last six games while benefiting from only one multi-hit game in his last thirteen efforts. He also hasn’t homered in his last fourteen games.
*Jason Kubel continues to struggle as he is now 6 for his last 38 (.158) with 16 strikeouts and just one RBI. He hit his first homerun in his last eight games- a solo shot- on Friday night but is clearly not seeing the ball very well with his high strikeout count and low walk count (6) during the stretch.
UGLY: I’m convinced Gerardo Parra is the worst base runner on the Dbacks. He just may be the fastest Dback but he is certainly not the smartest base runner on the team. The situation: Saturday night trailing 2-0 in the eighth- after Halladay dominated the team all night- was replaced by Josh Lindblom who then retired the first two batters of the eighth (both strikeouts) before walking Parra on four pitches. Drew is up- last two at bats: single and a double- and on a 1-1 count Parra takes off for second (with a red light) and is caught stealing to end the eighth. True, Parra on base doesn’t automatically mean that he scores and the team comes back to tie it but it certainly doesn’t leave any opportunity for a guy who was swinging the bat well. Again, poor decisions keep running the Dbacks out of innings- this time it just may have cost them the game.
*Mike Zagurski failed to make it through the eighth on Saturday night as he allowed two of the first three hitters to reach base with singles before being pulled for Matt Albers- his first appearance as a Dback- and Albers couldn’t close out the inning either allowing a two out single and Zagurski being credited with the run making it 3-0 heading into the ninth. It was the second time in Zagurski’s last three appearances that he failed to make it out of the inning.
NOTES: Paul Goldschmidt hit his 16th homerun on the year Sunday afternoon- his third in the last six games- and is the last man standing with a .300+ batting average on the ballclub. Just over one week ago there were four hitting .300 or better.
*Stephen Drew connected on Sunday for his first homerun of the year and first since June 29, 2011. It was also Drew’s first RBI in his last eleven games. Still, Drew is swinging the bat very well despite his average.
*Henry Blanco was hurt in Sunday’s eighth inning and has been placed on the 15 day DL with a sprained thumb. He left the team to return to Arizona for an MRI Monday- Blanco believes there is ligament damage which could end his season.
*To combat the injury, the Dbacks have signed 34 year old catcher Wil Nieves off of waivers from the Rockies.
*Justin Upton hit his 100th career homerun on Friday night and later that evening his older brother B.J. Upton mashed his 100th career homerun into the seats. Upton led the Dbacks with six hits against the Phillies over the weekend.
*David Hernandez left with an injury to his calf after being hit with a line drive Sunday afternoon but it isn’t believed to be serious and may be available as early as Tuesday night.
*The Diamondbacks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates Monday night for the start of a four game set. The Pirates are a N.L. best 33-16 at home this season while the Dbacks are 25-29 on the road.
Now bring on the Buccos!!!
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Topics: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks, B.J. Upton, Baserunning, Chris Johnson, Chris Young, Cliff Lee, Gerardo Parra, Henry Blanco, Ian Kennedy, J.J. Putz, Jason Kubel, Joe Saunders, Josh Lindblom, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Albers, Mike Zagurski, National League West, Paul Goldschmidt, Quality Starts, Record Notes, Roy Halladay, San Francisco Giants, Stephen Drew, Trevor Cahill, Wil Nieves