The Diamondbacks were again only able to steal one game from a division rival- this time the San Francisco Giants. The teams are 5-4 in head to head matchups this season with the Giants winning four of the last five after the Dbacks began won the first four. The team sits five games below .500 with an overall record of 23-28.
May 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (44) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning on Wednesday.
GOOD: Starting Pitching. The Diamondbacks pitchers threw very well in this series allowing just six earned runs in 19 innings. It was their best three game set in weeks even though they only collected one victory. Both Joe Saunders and Ian Kennedy only surrendered one earned run in their starts and Kennedy was excellent over his 7 2/3 innings of work. It was the first start where Kennedy gave up one or fewer runs in a start since April 28th, a span of five straight starts (all losses).
*Bullpen. The bullpen was again very good in this series, allowing just two earned runs in six innings of work. Both of those runs were given up by Bryan Shaw who struggled in Tuesday’s game, giving up a pair of hits and walking two without striking out anyone. He had a first pitch strike in just two of the seven hitters he faced. David Hernandez threw 1 1/3 innings yesterday to collect his first save of the year and saw his ERA drop to an impressive 1.93.
*Paul Goldschmidt has Lincecum’s number. Yesterday he hit his fourth homerun off the former Cy Young winner- the most by any player. The homerun put the Dbacks ahead for good and gave Lincecum his sixth loss on the year. Goldie finished the series 5 for 10 two walks and two RBI’s. More importantly is that he didn’t strikeout once. Since he went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts against the Royals he has a nine game hit streak with five doubles and two homeruns, raising his average to .266 from .223.
BAD: Trevor Cahill got smacked around early on Monday giving up four runs in the first two innings but did throw four shutout innings after the rough start. I know I placed the starting pitchers above, but Cahill continues to underperform. He has now given up at least four runs in three of his last four starts and his last three decisions have been losses. He record now sits at 2-5 and is just a hair below giving up four runs a game on average (3.96 ERA).
*RISP. Timely hits continue to be a burden on this team. There were no shortages of opportunities in this series either. They finished just 6 for 28 on the series and were never able to get any kind of rally together. Unproductive outs seems to be the theme of the month with this team including yet another man caught stealing- CY with a runner on third and one out was thrown out at second after he singled.
*Team Offense. This has been a ‘good’ factor lately but they couldn’t muster up anything in San Fran this week plating just three runs in the first two contests before getting four across on Wednesday. Since Gibson refuses to fill out a lineup card that even somewhat resembles the previous day the Diamondbacks had three different leadoff hitters against the Giants. The 1-2-3 hitters in the series went 7 for 37 (.189) with 14 strikeouts. They combined to score one run and one RBI. Now I’m not really blaming Gibson for this ineptitude, but maybe a little consistency with the lineup will allow the players to settle in. Either way, this is a pitiful way to start each of your games with the top of your lineup.
UGLY: Chris Young. I know everyone was waiting impatiently for the center fielder’s bat to wake up the slumbering Dbacks but so far he has struggled mightily. Gibson said in hindsight he thought they may have rushed him back a little bit with only one game in AAA Reno. Either way, he is just 6 for 38 (.157) since returning and 3 for his last 18. Positive note: he did record three hits in the series with the Giants including a line drive RBI double to left field.
*Ryan Roberts has fallen into another little slump lately going just 3 for his last 20 without scoring a run or having an extra base hit. He finished 1 for 9 against the Giants. He also continues to be shaky at third base-7 errors- and so far this season the hot corner has caused a lot of issues for Gibson and the Dbacks.
*Unproductive Outs. I’m not sure if this is an actual statistic or just something you see watching games, but the Diamondbacks hitters have these in abundance lately. They continue to get thrown out on the base paths- CY was thrown out on Monday trying to steal second with Kubel on third. Montero then flies out to end the inning instead of bringing Kubel home with a SAC fly. They would have the leadoff runner on in the second, fourth, seventh, and eighth, on Monday and only plated one run off John McDonald’s first career pinch hit homerun in the eighth. In the fifth, Roberts led off the inning by trying to bunt his way on but couldn’t get it down and was called out at the plate. A trend I’ve noticed lately with this team- they need bunting practice.
To show you how important getting a bunt down can be we can just look at the Giants on Monday against Cahill. First inning: Leadoff double, SAC to move Blanco to third, a walk puts runners on first and third and a double steal plates a run and moves guy to second, out of force play. Next hitter, RBI single; then Belt hits an RBI triple to make it 3-0 in the first inning. In the second inning they would have the leadoff guy on again and a Sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Next hitter, RBI double. 4-0. Ballgame.
In the fourth inning on Tuesday they loaded the bases with one out against Vogelsong only to see Josh Bell foul out to third and McDonald ground out to third to end the inning. Again in the sixth, the offense had a second and third with nobody out scoring opportunity. Goldschmidt grounded out to the pitcher, Josh Bell hit a ground ball to first that is thrown home and gets Montero at the plate. After intentially walking McDonald to load the bases, Vogelsong worked out of another jam by striking out Saunders. This can be blamed on Gibson in a way. Even though Saunders was quite effective to this point, runs aren’t exactly a sure thing for this offense right now and Saunders would only record one more out before being removed in the bottom half of the inning. Had Gibby pinch hit for Saunders, perhaps they could have plated one or two runs.
NOTES: Jason Kubel was put on paternity leave following Tuesday’s game and his daughter was born that same day. He is expected back with the team for their weekend series in San Diego.
*The Diamondbacks finished May with a record of 11-17. They are 11-11 against N.L. West teams and won only two series all month, against the Royals and Brewers. They split both two game sets against the Rockies and Dodgers as well. They won on consecutive days only twice all month and dropped five in a row at one point.
Now bring on the Padres!!
Follow me on Twitter at @ndougherty313 and our team at @venomstrikes.