The Diamondbacks finished up their first road trip of the second half much like they played the first half: underwhelmingly. They had to settle for a split in their four game set against the first place Cincinnati Reds despite leading yesterdays game 6-0 heading into the sixth inning where seven Reds players would score in the next two frames. Still, like most series, there are positives heading back to Chase Field this weekend.
Record Notes: The team dropped to 44-48 on the year and sits seven games back of the San Francisco Giants. Their away record fell to 21-27 on the road finishing 2-5 on the road trip. They are 5-11 in their last 16 games overall.
GOOD: Bullpen. With the exception of Bryan Shaw in yesterday’s contest, the bullpen was exceptional once again. They held the Reds offense scoreless over five innings of work after Bauer’s early exit on Tuesday allowing just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in the series- both runs allowed by Shaw.
*Josh Collmenter was lights out in his relief appearance on Tuesday throwing three shutout innings while scattering two hits and striking out five. He will head back into the rotation with the demotion of Bauer and take the hill on Sunday afternoon against the Astros. The righties ERA has creeped under the 4.00 mark for the first time since April (3.90 ERA) and he has recorded 57 strikeouts in 60 innings of work. All a far cry from the head hunting he experienced in April.
*Ian Kennedy had one of his best starts of the season on Wednesday hurling eight innings allowing just one earned run while striking out seven. The win improved his record to 7-8 and marked the fourth time in his last six starts the ace lasted at least seven innings. For perspective, he threw seven or more innings in only four of his first thirteen starts. Not that he’s in the clear by any means, his ERA still sits a notch under 5.00 in July (4.95) and teams are hitting .279 against him on the season. Still, the longer Kennedy is the game, the better off this team will be.
*Joe Saunders deserves to be in this section for a couple reasons: first off, the lefty retired 14 of the first 16 hitters he faced- walking just two batters. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Reds were able to do some damage with a pair of singles and Brandon Phillips three run blast. Secondly, I think it is important to recognize that Saunders began the season as the team’s fifth starter. What do you ask of a #5 starter in your rotation? Maybe six innings of work, minimizing damage- keeping your ERA around the 3.50-3.75 mark give or take. While Saunders has now gone eleven consecutive starts without throwing seven innings, he has thrown 6+ innings in seven of his last eight starts. His ERA sits at 3.58 on the season and he burns through innings. So while Saunders may get smacked around once in a while, remember what his role on the team is- he’s certainly not expected to pitch like an ace.
BAD: Chris Young is still struggling. Have you noticed Gibby? While he did have two hits against the Reds- both doubles- he has now gone 27 games without a multi-hit effort and his average is hovering around the Mendoza line at .206. Personally not sure why he is still in the lineup over Gerardo Parra but I’ll ride it out a little longer in hopes our .238 career average center fielder busts out in a big way.
*Stephen Drew was just 2 for 13 with three strikeouts and an error in the series against the Reds. As he continues his return from a long DL stint, the shortstop is having a difficult time finding his swing. He is hitting just .192 with an on base percentage of .246 through his first 15 games.
Stolen Bases. Again this team is extremely inefficient in their stolen base attempts. They were caught stealing on three occasions against the Reds while stealing two successfully. Obviously Willie Bloomquist was one of the guys caught stealing- twice actually. It’s a good thing Fast Willie has a multi-hit game every night or he would probably be riding the pine. Still, in all seriousness, these guys continue to run themselves out of innings and one would think this would be a priority for the club.
UGLY: Trevor Bauer struggled through his start on Tuesday working just three innings while allowing three earned runs and a homerun. He only surrendered one hit but walked FIVE batters, had a throwing error and threw two wild pitches- one of them in the first inning on ball four allowing the first run to score.
One would hope that the rookies first stint with the team will be a humbling one as he only made it out of the fourth inning once in his four starts before being demoted after his start against the Reds. Still, this short stint could be the best thing for the right hander as he can head back to Reno to regroup a little without all the media hoopla surrounding him and use his experience from his first four starts to propel him when he returns. Worth mentioning is Bauer’s groin injury that he says wasn’t an issue but his fastball velocity was more consistently 91-93 rather than the normal 93-96. We’ll see if they allow him to skip a start to allow the groin more time to heal.
*Bryan Shaw had a less than memorable appearance in yesterday’s game as he walked consecutive batters on eight straight pitches before Brandon Phillips smashed a two run double to centerfield. Four runs would eventually score (two earned) and Shaw would suffer the loss. Now, Shaw was lights out for all of June posting an ERA of .79 in 11.1 innings but hasn’t fared as well in July allowing five runs in five innings. Gibby had this to say about Shaw following yesterday’s appearance, “You can’t come in and walk two guys on eight pitches. That’s just totally unacceptable,” Gibson said. “Not that he’s trying to, but in all honesty, Shaw has struggled a lot lately walking guys when he’s come into games. It’s something that’s going to have to be looked at.” Yikes. I wonder what he thinks about big belly Zagurski then?
NOTES: The Diamondbacks were shutout on Tuesday 4-0 marking the fourth time in five games the offense plated one of fewer runs. In their last 37 games the team has been shut out five times. The team went the first 54 games without being shutout.
*David Hernandez has now recorded at least two strikeouts in 10 of his last 19 appearances and is averaging 13.9 K’s/ game.
*Jason Kubel hit two homeruns Wednesday after sitting out four games with a hamstring injury, giving him seventeen on the year. It was his first multi- homerun game since May 27, 2010 vs. the Yankees when Kubel was with the Twins.
*Fast Willie Bloomquist recorded three more multi-hit games against the Reds. He now has 26 multi-hit efforts in his 69 games played. His Homerun Watch continues at 69 games and 285 at bats without a tater. He is now the only player without a homerun on the team as Henry Blanco put one in the seats yesterday.
*Justin Upton Homerun Watch has returned. As I was away on vacation the last two weeks I was unaware the right fielder wanted back in on the Watch so badly but he again has a streak over 20 games without a homerun (21 games currently) and still sits at seven on the season. He did hit eight homeruns last July so there is hope that his power numbers will return.
The team returns home for a 10 game stretch that begins against the Houston Astros. The Astros are just 10-38 on the road and have the worst record in the major leagues at 34-59. Which means we’ll probably get swept. Trevor Cahillwill take the hill tonight to try to get his record back to .500 after dropping three of his last four.
Now bring on the Astros!!
Follow me on Twitter at @ndougherty313 and our team at @venomstrikes.