Arizona Diamondbacks: Series preview with Colorado Rockies
By Mark Brown
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt says it is foolish to look at standings in the first month of the season.
It’s way too early in the season to bother Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks with such trivialities. After all, the calendar has not turned to May and already there are whispers of how good his team can become.
Perhaps, and an early measure of the mettle and grit of the Arizona Diamondbacks will be on display. Beginning Friday and for the next two days, the Diamondbacks will take on the Colorado Rockies. When play began Friday night, the Diamondbacks held a one-half lead over the Rockies for the top spot in the National League West Division.
All of the dialogue that the series features the top two teams currently in the division is unsettling to Goldschmidt. Despite winning 15 of their first 24 games, the Diamondbacks, and all other major league teams, have not had an opportunity to trust their endurance and survival mode. The principals would likely be comfortable with this discussion when the Rockies are back in Chase Field for four games beginning on Monday Sept. 11. That is, if these two clubs are in a similar position.
Until then, any dialogue and discussion is strictly moot. In fact, Goldschmidt seem to go out his way before Friday’s game and told Venom Strikes this kind of discussion is fruitless.
"The last thing is to look at the standings in the first month. The Rockies are a great hitting team and playing well. This will be a challenge for us."
Coming into this series, the Diamondbacks have won five of their last seven and the Rockies were swept by the Washington Nationals in three games at Coors Field.
The fact this series is played in Chase Field should give the Diamondbacks a clear advantage. At home, Arizona leads the majors in batting average (.320), on-base- percentage, slugging percentage and runs per game. Overall in Major League Baseball, the Diamondbacks are first in hits, first in triples, lead in stolen bases, second in runs, second in team batting average, second in doubles, third in on-base percentage and third in extra base hits.
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Despite stumbling against Washington, the Rockies put up impressive numbers.
They are 7-0 in one-run games and the only team in baseball to remain undefeated in this category. The last team to start the season at 7-0 in one-run games was the 2006 Houston Astros. A reason is Rox closer Greg Holland. The righthander has saved nine games in nine save opportunities.
Plus, the Rox are among leaders in home runs. Each Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds (seven HRs) are tied for third in the National League. Blackmon comes into this series with a 12-game hitting streak. In this period, he is hitting .367 (18-for-49).
Last season, the Diamondbacks took the series 10-9 and captured the last five games of the season between these two teams.
Given the way both teams broke out of the gate, it is not surprising to Bud Black, the Colorado manager, that these are two teams with the best record in the NL. Before Friday’s game, Black told Venom Strikes that different teams rise in different seasons.
"Both teams are scoring. Arizona is getting great pitching and their running game is one of the best in the league. We have to keep their stealers off the bases. This will be a good test for both teams."
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Going forward, the Rockies and Diamondbacks will meet in six times in each of the team’s next nine games. These teams get together next weekend for three in Coors Field. In between, the Diamondbacks are in Washington for three and the Rockies have three with the Padres in San Diego.