The Diamondbacks returned home to Chase Field for a weekend series against the first place Washington Nationals who also brought the league’s best record with them. It showed as the Dbacks had to salvage a win on Sunday to avoid the sweep while again playing very poorly in the field.
Transactions: The Dbacks were forced to make a few moves over the weekend that saw Josh Collmenter head to the disabled list with ulcers and a recall of right hander Brad Bergeson from Triple-A Reno. They also had to place Willie Bloomquist on the DL with a back issue that has hampered him for a couple weeks now. To fill his roster spot they promoted infielder Jake Elmore to make his major league debut for the club. The other move was a matter of choice as they [finally] designated Mike Zagurski for assignment while recalling right hander Bryan Shaw.
Record Notes: The team is playing .500 ball lately and still sits one game above .500 on the season at 58-57 but lost a game to the first place Giants and now trail them by five games. They have won three series, lost three series, and split three [four game] series in the second half of the season.
*With their 9-1 loss on Friday night, the team fell to 1-39 in games in which they scored two or fewer runs.
*With their 6-5 loss on Saturday night the team dropped to a major league worst 8-17 in one run games on the year and have lost five straight one run affairs.
GOOD: Patrick Corbin put together another impressive start on Sunday working seven innings while allowing just four hits and two earned runs. He didn’t walk a batter, collected seven strikeouts and at one point retired sixteen straight Nationals hitters. The 23 year old rookie has been excellent in August posting an ERA of 1.89 and a 2-0 record in nineteen innings of work.
*Bryan Shaw returned to the Diamondbacks bullpen Saturday night after being demoted on July 20th and he didn’t disappoint striking out the side in the seventh inning. J.J. Putz came in during the ninth on Sunday and retired the final two hitters to record his 13th consecutive save and 22nd overall.
*Aaron Hill’s bat livened over the weekend as he collected a pair of doubles and his first homerun in 20 games. He also drove in his first run in the month of August.
BAD: Trevor Cahill was mediocre yet again on Friday as he surrendered two homeruns and four earned runs over six innings of work. Cahill has failed to win consecutive starts in nine consecutive appearances now dating back to June 3rd. He has given up at least three runs in seven of those nine starts.
*Paul Goldschmidt began the series 0 for 9 on Friday and Saturday before finally breaking through with a clutch performance on Sunday as he went 2 for 4 with three RBI’s and a stolen base. Goldie is mired in a 3 for 20 mini-slump right now but hopefully Sunday’s effort will get the first baseman rolling again. His eleventh stolen base on the year leads all National League first baseman and is tied for the most in MLB at his position.
UGLY: Takashi Saito suffered another abbreviated outing on Sunday lasting just 1/3 of an inning while giving up three hits and a pair of runs before being pulled. In his last three outings the right hander has working just 1 1/3 innings while allowing six hits and four earned runs including a homerun. His ERA has skyrocketed over 6.00 (6.14) and his struggles are coming at an inconvenient time as the team is making a “push” for a playoff spot.
*Mike Zagurski was again hit hard on Friday night allowing four earned runs on four hits- three doubles- as pitching coach Charles Nagy and Gibby let the left hander grind his way through one of the worst innings he’s thrown all season- he allowed four earned runs in 2/3 inning on June 20th. With the game virtually out of reach everyone was forced to watch the 29 year old painfully battle hitter after hitter and without a reliever warming up. The outing sent Zagurski’s ERA over 6.00 on the year (6.18) and prompted his demotion to Triple-A Reno the following day. The Dbacks now have zero left handed relievers in their bullpen with Zagurski’s demotion and the Craig Breslow trade at the deadline.
*Chris Johnson came back to reality during his first series at the friendly confines of Chase Field. He collected just one hit in eleven at bats and misplayed a couple balls being credited with his 16th & 17th errors on the year. Since he blasted a pair of homeruns against the Pirates last Tuesday, the third baseman is just 4 for 20 (.200) with six strikeouts. He did still knock in two runs over the weekend pushing his RBI total as a Diamondback to 18 in just 13 games. While the offensive downfall isn’t concerning considering how well he has been, the defensive mishaps are something the defense [and pitching staff] cannot afford. He has already committed four errors in his time as a Diamondback.
*Team Defense. What a horrible display of fielding once again this weekend as the club tacked on another three error game Saturday night on their way to committing five errors over the three games. It was their second consecutive series with five errors and they now have eleven errors in just their last eight games. Still, even with their recent struggles on the field the defense sports the tenth best fielding percentage in all of baseball at .984- the MLB leading Mariners have a .990 percentage.
NOTES: *Arizona State alumni Jake Elmore made his major league debut on Saturday night as a pinch hitter coming to the plate with runners on first and second and one out. It was a quality at bat as he saw four pitches before flying out to right field for the second out.
*The Dbacks have seen some difficult opponents in their last five series with the Mets, Dodgers, Phillies, Pirates and Nationals finishing 9-8 during that span. All but the Phillies are either the division leader or contending for at least a playoff spot with under 50 games to go. In the Phillies series the team was dealt the hand of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in the final two matchups, two of the toughest starters in baseball when they are hitting their spots. As the team travels to St. Louis to start a three game set Tuesday night, they will be faced with yet another tough opponent that has fared very well against the Dbacks as of late.
*Ian Kennedy will take the hill tomorrow evening to try to rectify his poor outing against the Pirates and take game one that will kick off their nine game road trip. In Kennedy’s first start against the Cardinals earlier this summer he was hit hard in the first two innings allowing six earned runs on two homeruns but was able to shut down their offense after the second to throw seven complete innings.
Now bring on the Cardinals!!
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Sidenote: This awesomeness kicks off Wednesday in Long Beach, CA: http://vimeo.com/40057950