Touch 'Em All: D-backs win Padres series
That is the emotion that I'm feeling coming off of the Diamondbacks' second series of the season.
Yes, you did read that right. And yes, I know the D-backs are 5-1. But in my eyes they should be 6-0, and I am disappointed that they are not.
If the Diamondbacks want to be one of the top tier teams in the majors, they can't fail to capitalize on fantastic pitching outings like Joe Saunders had on Wednesday. The 5th pitcher in the rotation went seven innings and gave up no runs against possibly the worst hitting team in the league. "Hopefully we'll get more consistent when we get those opportunities," Kirk Gibson said of the series following Thursday's 3-1 victory.
Kirk Gibson is right, as he usually is, the difference between the good teams and the best teams is consistency, and that is something the D-Backs must improve on going forward.
But enough of my skepticismů How good is the D-backs' pitching staff? Joe Saunders looked great on Wednesday, even though he got a no-decision. Ian Kennedy looked like, well, Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz has been absolutely lights out.
Once this team's bats wake up, Justin Upton and Jason Kubel I'm talking to you, the D-Backs are going to be one of the most difficult teams to beat in the majors.
On a side note, injured D-Backs' shortstop Stephen Drew is getting better by the day, as he played in an extended spring training game on Thursday.
I want to be the first person to propose that when Drew returns, Willie Bloomquist should move over to second base and remain an everyday starter. After having an off spring, Bloomquist has had a great start to the 2012 campaign, and I think his speed and ability to get on base in the leadoff spot are too important to lose.
Either way, the addition of Hill or Bloomquist to the bench will only add to this team's outrageous depth. Not to mention the addition of Stephen Drew's bat in the lineup can't come soon enough.
Series Report Card
Record: B The D-Backs took game one of the three game set to start off a season 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. Arizona really should have swept this series; the Snakes wasted a phenomenal start by Joe Saunders on Wednesday and in so doing lost their chance to go into Colorado at 6-0.
Offense: C+ The Diamondbacks offense continues, as it did in the opening series, to completely shut down for portions of games. Justin Upton couldn't be farther from an MVP candidate. Chris Young is the exception; he's off to a great start, now the rest of the team has to catch up. I'll give the D-backs hitters a little bit of an excuse, they were playing in a predominantly pitcher's park, but if the Snakes are to compete at the level they want to, they need to swing the bats better.
Defense: A- The defense bounced back from its five error performance nicely in this series. Petco is a pitchers park, and the D-Backs defense really helped the pitching staff keep it that way in this trip to San Diego.
Pitching: A- Trevor Cahill got off to a tough start on Tuesday, but after that the Diamondbacks' pitching was, for the most part, outstanding over the whole series with the Padres. J.J. Putz looks like he is in midseason form just four save opportunities in, his four saves are good for 2nd in the NL. And if you're counting, that's 28 consecutive saves for the D-Backs' closer.
Managing: A I really questioned Kirk Gibson's decision to go with Brad Ziegler instead of Brian Shaw in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game, but the D-backs won, so there will be no further argument from me. Gibson continues to be a magician with his lineup, not to mention, no one is questioning the order of his pitching rotation anymore.
Play of the Series: If the D-Backs were at home, it would've been a walk off, but since they were on the road it was only a go ahead home run. Either way, Chris Young's laser beam of a two-run home run in the top of the 11th on Tuesday was the biggest play of this series. It propelled the D-Backs to their first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Unsung Hero of the Series: This series the Unsung Hero Award goes to a member of the San Diego Padres. That's right; Micah Owings was as big for the D-Backs as he could have been being a member of the opposing team. Owings received both of the Padres' losses in this series, and he served up a pitch on a silver platter to Chris Young in the 11th inning of game one as an exclamation point for the Diamondbacks' fourth win of the year.
Kirk Gibson Quote of the Series: "We couldn't close it out, we had many opportunities; we weren't very good with runners in scoring position." - After the Diamondbacks 2-1 loss on Wednesday.
Player of the Series: After the opening series, I mentioned Chris Young would be in the running for this award a lot. Well, it didn't take too long for that to come to fruition. Young is tearing the cover off the ball at the start of the 2012 campaign. He went 4-for-11 with two home runs, a double and three RBIs in the series.
The "Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag" Award: A lot, and I mean a lot of people picked this to be the year Justin Upton fully reached his potential to win the NL MVP award. Well, so far this season J-Up is looking like anything but an MVP candidate. The D-Backs' right fielder is hitting .133 with four strikeouts. While he has drawn five walks, the Diamondbacks need their best player to produce much more offensively if they are to succeed this season. I have no doubt he'll turn it around, but for now, I'm just disappointingly giving him a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.
Best Moment of the Series: The best moment of this series was Chris Young's solo home run in the top of the 8th inning. Why? Because with that home run, CY's 121st of his career, the Diamondbacks' center fielder tied Mark Reynolds for 3rd most home runs in franchise history. That means we're one step closer to erasing all Mark Reynolds related D-Backs stats from relevant history, except strikeouts, and quite frankly I pray that no D-Back will ever strike out enough to beat Mr. Reynolds in that category.
The Road Ahead: The Diamondbacks finish their short road trip up in Colorado against the Rockies. Look forward to some baseball in the cold, as the forecast is calling for snow this weekend. Watch Josh Collmenter's start on Saturday, if he struggles again, the Trevor Bauer rumblings will only get louder, and once you go down that road it's only a matter of time before the young phenom is up from the minors.