The interleague slugfest ended happily for Diamondbacks fans Wednesday as the offense just kept pounding the ball into the seats all afternoon. The baseball purists probably hate series like the one the Dbacks just finished against the Mariners but to the people who say baseball is boring: think again. This series was filled with action and even a couple milestones snuck into the mix.
Offensive Explosion: The two teams combined to score 53 runs and 79 hits in three games. That’s an average of just over 17 runs scored in each game combined. There were five lead changes in Tuesday’s game in which the Dbacks fell in just their second extra inning contest all season. Wednesday included three different lead changes before the home team slugged their way to a win. Exciting? Absolutely. The two teams combined to hit 15 doubles, 2 triples, and 15 homeruns in the series. Now, with offensive numbers like these, you can probably bet where the pitching staff fits into this recap and it isn’t ‘good.’
Record Notes: With the series win, the Diamondbacks inched closer to .500 again and sit eight games back of the Dodgers with a 34-35 record. They’re now 10-3 at Chase Field in their last 13 and have an even 17-17 home record. After losing 12 of 15 home games and six consecutive series losses on their home turf it looks as though we’re seeing the style of play we saw last year where the team dominated at home.
*Milestones. Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 2,500 career hit in the major leagues on Monday finishing 4 for 5 with two doubles. Only three players since 1900 took fewer games to reach 2,500 hits: Al Simmons, Ty Cobb, and George Sisler.
GOOD: Wade Miley was virtually the only pitcher who did his job effectively during this series and he was once again brilliant. The rookie went seven strong innings allowing just one run while tying his career high in strikeouts (8) for the second consecutive start. He added a double at the plate for good measure as well. In his last 22 2/3 IP Miley has allowed just three earned runs- one in each of his three starts. He has allowed just one base on balls in his last four starts- a span of 30 innings. He controls the fifth best ERA in the National League and leads all rookies.
*Aaron Hill was just about as good as you could ask in this series going 8 for 12 with three doubles, a triple, and three homeruns. He would hit for his first career cycle in Monday’s win- the eighth cycle in Dbacks history. He is hitting .369 in June with a .417 on base percentage, raising his average to .291 on the year.
*Paul Goldschmidt snapped out of a 1 for 14 dip with five hits in the series including two doubles and a homerun. His defense was also impressive throughout the series.
*Team Offense. As stated above, the offense had no problem scoring against the mediocre pitching of the Mariners and recorded 20 extra base hits including six homeruns in the finale yesterday. It was the first time in club history that six different Diamondbacks had a tater in a single game. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, six of the nine starters had at least two hits. Again, we know this team is capable of having these types of offensive outbursts- it’s the consistency issue that has haunted this team all season as they had gone 21 consecutive innings without a single run heading into this series.
BAD: Starting Pitching. Aside from Miley’s start on Monday, the starters didn’t do much to give the Dbacks a chance to win. Daniel Hudson again struggled- working 4+ innings allowing 10 hits and 7 earned runs. He allowed two homeruns on the day as well but the offense battled back and got the right hander off the hook helping him avoid the loss. Trevor Cahill was a little better although a five run third inning was more runs than he had given up in his previous three starts. With the Dbacks swinging the bats so well it allowed Cahill to remain in the game to throw six complete innings. We will chaulk this start up to the baseball gods looking after Cahill after he was absolutely lights out his last three starts and allowed him to improve to 6-5 on the year. He is now 4-0 in June and has a winning record for the first time as a Diamondback.
*Bullpen. The bullpen struggled about as much as the starting rotation- giving up nine earned runs in eleven innings of work. The unfortunate thing is just about all of the relievers were smacked around at some point in this series too. J.J. Putz came out in the 10th inning on Tuesday after throwing a scoreless ninth and walked the leadoff man. Really it all unraveled from there and between Ziegler and him the Mariners would plate three runs in the top of the frame on their way to a 12-9 win. Craig Breslow gave up a three run homerun to Brendan Ryan who came into the game with one homerun on the year and a paltry .179 average. Putz would be credited with the loss, David Hernandez blew the lead in the eighth giving up the tying run-his fourth blown save this year- and Brad Ziegler served up a pinch hit two run single in the tenth before capping his inning off allowing Ichiro an RBI double. Four of the six relievers used on Tuesday gave up at least one run and three of the four walks issued in the game would score.
*Mike Zagurski was beat up again on the mound on Wednesday after throwing a scoreless inning the night before. His control and location wrecked any chance of putting together an effective inning and you would have to wonder how long they’ll allow it to go on- 6.32 ERA. His inning Wednesday: Leadoff walk, first pitch single (Kubel threw him out trying to stretch into double), first pitch- RBI single, walk- five pitches, strikeout, pinch-hit three run homerun by Franklin Guttierez– his first on the year- and Zagurski would make the dreaded walk back to the dugout mid-inning while Bryan Shaw would close out the frame. Worth noting as well is on Michael Saunders’ single to first base, if Zagurski wasn’t being a spectator and actually ran to the bag to cover, they would have gotten the runner at first for the second out with nobody on. Instead he walked the next guy and then proceeded to give up the homerun to end his night.
UGLY: Daniel Hudson is having a hard time putting together quality starts and was hit very hard in this game. As mentioned above, he failed to make it through five innings, allowing ten hits. He pitched to five batters in the fifth: Single, walk, three run homerun, single and a single. Breslow would come in to relieve Hudson and after recording two strikeouts, he gave up a long homerun to Brendan Ryan to cap off Hudson’s night. In his last 12 2/3 innings he has allowed 23 hits, 16 runs and 3 homeruns. His ERA in June is now 7.84. If his next start emulates his previous tendencies though we’ll see a great outing from Hudson in his next start as it seems to be every other start that he struggles.
*Chris Young has to be worrying Gibby & Co. at this point. He is pretty much hurting the Dbacks by being in the lineup everyday and the Mariners series was much of the same. He finished 1 for 10 in the series and is now 3 for his last 33 (.090) with two doubles, no RBI, and just two walks. Generally when Young is struggling he is still getting on base via the walk but lately he hasn’t been doing that either. His homerless streak is now at 27 games and hasn’t recorded an RBI in 12 straight games. It’s worth noting that Young’s career average is just .236 and perhaps this is just what we can expect from the center fielder. At which point I would say- play Parra over him and make him a fourth outfielder. Also, since Upton finally hit a homerun, Young will take over the ‘Homerun Watch’ duties until further notice.
NOTES: Heading into Tuesday’s game the Mariners relievers had given up 1 run in their last 19 innings- they gave up four in the first two innings that night and didn’t fare much better the rest of the series allowing eight earned runs in all.
*The Diamondbacks have now grounded into a double play in four straight games and in eight of their last nine games.
*Third basemen Josh Bell had his first multi-hit game as a Diamondback on Monday and his first RBI in 10 games.
*In Tuesday’s loss, the team struck out 14 times. Of their last nine outs- seven of them were by virtue of the K- and four of those were ‘looking.’
*Justin Upton Homerun Watch is over- for now. He took a green light on a 3-0 pitch and smashed it into the left field seats for a three run homerun. It snapped a 21 game-82 at bat- homerless streak. It was his longest streak without a homerun since he went 29 games from July 20- August 21st 2010.
*Speaking of 3-0 green lights: Upton is now 10-17 on 3-0 pitches with five homeruns in his lifetime. Good call Gibby- good call.
*Miguel Montero continued his hot streak going 5 for 10 in the series and hit his fifth homerun in June. He is hitting .302 with a .409 on base percentage in the month.
*Jason Kubel recorded his N.L. leading seventh outfield assist in the series, tying him with Hunter Pence.
*The Chicago Cubs come to Chase Field for a weekend series with Joe Saunders pitching against Jeff Samardzija Friday night. The Cubs are 10-26 on the road this season and sit in last place in the Central Division.
Now bring on the Cubs!!
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