May 17, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Tony La Russa addresses the media after being introduced as the Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks finally won a home series last weekend and the best part was that they took two out of three from the Dodgers, a team they have struggled against all season long. The Diamondbacks actually have life! After a shutout loss on Friday night, it looked like it would be more of the same for the Snakes at home. Then something changed on Saturday. The offense woke up in a big way scoring 18 runs, including 7 against Clayton Kershaw who didn’t even last two innings. That was the second shortest outing of his career. Now I know that Kershaw has struggled against Arizona especially at Chase Field, but that was not what I expected to happen. Then the team carried the momentum of Saturday night into Sunday afternoon winning 5-3 thanks to a clutch two run homer from Chavez.
The Dbacks have now won four of their past five series and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. This team now heads out on the road for a six game road swing through St. Louis and Flushing N.Y. For most teams, heading out on the road would be a bad thing, but visiting staduims have been kind to Arizona in 2014. Their 12-10 road record is second in the majors. Meanwhile the Cardinals are 6-4 in their last 10 after taking two of three from Atlanta, but are only 23-21 on the season which is a complete surprise. Many things have contributed to the success of the Diamondbacks as of late, including the starting pitching which is a lot better in the month of May. However, I would like to talk about the impact that two rising young stars, A.J Pollack and Chris Owings, are having on this team. Pollack was named the N.L co-player of the week for last week. He led the N.L in many catagories including his .500 batting avearge. Up until the last couple of games, Owings was really struggling. However he had a great weekend against the Dodgers and his B.A is back up to .291. He has exceeded expectations both at the plate and in the field. Hopefully the Dbacks can continue their success on the road in this series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Key Storyline: Last week, the Diamondbacks hired soon to be hall of famer Tony La Russa to be the franchise’s first ever Chief Baseball Officer. Everybody around baseball praised this move as a great one and it is clear that with his knowledge, the Dbacks are in a better place with him in charge of baseball operations. What this means for G.M Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson will be decided later but this series involves La Russa in another way. For so many years, La Russa was the manager of the Cardinals leading them to two world titles, and along wtih Dave Duncan made such an impact on so many players. While La Russa wont be making the trip, the Dbacks are returning to his old stomping grounds, and hopefully the La Russa effect continues.
Game by Game:
Arroyo has been on a roll of late to say the least. After strugglign with injuries early on, the old Bronson Arroyo is back. In his last three starts he is 3-0 with an amazing 0.39 era. Last time out against the Nationals he tossed a complete game, allowing one run on seven hits, the Dbacks only win in that series. Wainwright is second in the N.L in wins with 6 and a 2.11 era. He has a chance to become the N.L’s second 7 game winner. A blown save cost him last time. This is the pitching matchup of the series.
McCarthy simply hasn’t had any luck this seaosn coming in with a 1-6 record and a 5.01. He either pitches poorly or when he pitches well he doesn’t get any run support. Last time out he had his finest start against Washington allowing just one run on two hits in eight innings but he got a no-decision. Three of his last four starts have been quality ones. Now the Dbacks need to get him some wins. Wacha is one of the best young pitchers in the game coming in with a 3-3 record and a 2.82 era. Wacha has made seven quality starts and has yet to allow four runs in any outing. He struggled against Arizona last year.
Miley was roughed up in his last start by the Dodgers as he allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 innings. He pitched well in two starts before that. Simply put Miley has been very inconsistent. Lynn allowed two runs over seven innings in a 5-2 victory against Atlanta. He has a 2.37 era in five games against Arizona.
Series Prediction: The pitching matchups defiently dont favor the Snakes. Wainwright, Wacha, and Lynn is hard to deal with. The best chance to get a win is when Arroyo takes the mound because he has been lights out but Wainwright is tough. I say the Dbacks win a pitchers duel in game 1. As much as I would like to say that McCarthy’s luck will change, Wacha will be to much in game 2. The rubber match could go either way but I they will loose that game and take one of three games before heading to Flushing to take on the Mets to wrap up the trip.