The Arizona Diamondbacks started the second half of the 2013 season with a quick three game road trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco on Friday night. Clinging to a 2 ½ game lead in the N.L. West at the start of the series, the D-Backs hoped to build on that and drive some momentum into Chase Field for their seven game home stand beginning Monday night against the Cubs.
Things did not quite go as planned and the club exited the bay area with just a single victory and a ½ game lead in the division. Below are a few points from the series worth mentioning.
Jul 21, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado (14) swings at the plate during the seventh inning in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park.
Record Notes: The team now sits at 51-47 overall and is 4-6 in their last ten games. Their 51 wins are the fewest of any division leader in baseball. With their win on Sunday, they are now 18-13 in series finales for the season.
GOOD: Martin Prado. Our third baseman was swinging the best bat in San Fran this weekend, finishing 5-12 with his first triple of the year, three runs scored, and a pair of RBIs. He has upped his average in July to .317 and has six multi-hit games this month after recording just four in all of June.
Starting Pitching. Midway through the first inning on Friday night it looked like Ian Kennedy was not going to make it through three innings. He somehow escaped the first inning – bases loaded jam with two runs allowed and then proceeded to hurl five shutout innings to record a quality start despite taking the loss.
~Wade Miley then followed that up with a decent outing Saturday but was removed in the fifth when Gibson saw a chance for his offense to finally scrape a run across, 14 innings into the series. They managed one run but Miley was shelved for the evening just 80 pitches in and Josh Collmenter quickly surrendered a two run bomb to Buster Posey (more on this later) that the team would not recover from.
~Randall Delgado took the hill in the finale and was quite efficient, hurling 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball while the offense rounded up a single run in the first to put him in line for the win. Had Gibson given Delgado the green light to finish the sixth inning Sunday (89 pitches) he would have recorded his fifth consecutive quality start. Still, the righty has allowed three or fewer earned runs in every start this season despite his 2-3 record through eight games. His road ERA now sits at an impressive 2.61 in four starts.
Overall, the three pitchers combined for 15 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs, but no home runs.
BAD: Josh Collmenter. As I am an avid Collmenter fan and consistently argue he is most valuable in his current role, I could not drop him to ‘ugly’ here but he was not sharp on Saturday in relief of Miley. He allowed a two out, two-run homer to Posey that sunk the Snakes. Crazy Collmenter stat: Posey’s career numbers vs. him include two home runs and five total hits in just seven at bats. The 27 year-old that was untouchable in June (3-0 0.50 ERA) is now 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in July.
Base running. The team finished another series in the red as far as steals to caught stealing are concerned with Prado being picked off at first and caught stealing on Sunday and AJ Pollock caught stealing second by Posey later in the same game. The team is now successfully stealing bases at a 54% rate, second to last in all of baseball. An issue that plagued the team throughout all of 2012 has reared its head again in 2013 as the D-Backs continue to run themselves out of innings with poor base running.
UGLY: RISP. This is an area that has seemed to haunt the D-Backs in recent years (Paul Goldschmidt aside) and this weekend was no different as they finished 4 for 21 with runners in scoring position and are now 5 for their last 37 in such cases. I’ll take a wild guess and assume this deficiency has something to do with averaging less than two runs over their last four games and one win to show for it.
Ian Kennedy-First Inning Shenanigans. Kennedy turned a horrible start (two first inning runs) into a pretty solid outing on Friday night but this was not just a fluke, it has become the norm for him. In his 19 starts this season the right hander has allowed 17 runs on 27 hits. This includes eight doubles, six walks, and two home runs. For easy math, that is an ERA of 8.05 in the first inning. Stop and think about that for a second. His second and third innings? Eleven earned runs combined. Strangely, he actually pitches much better the second, third, and even fourth time through the order so far in 2013.
NOTES: Gerardo Parra is now 2 for his last 28 after finishing 1-7 in the series. He is hitting at a lowly .176 clip over his last thirty days.
~The D-Backs have lost 12 of their last 16 games against the Giants.
~The club returns to Chase Field tonight to begin a three game set against the Chicago Cubs as they will face RHP Chris Rusin who will get the call after it was announced today that Matt Garza has been traded to the Rangers. The D-Backs will send left handed prospect Tyler Skaggs to the hill to try and make it consecutive wins for the team.
Now bring on the Cubbies!