Touch 'Em All: D-backs take three of four from Dodgers
Don't look now, but here come the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After a miserable losing streak, the D-backs took three of four from the NL West-leading Dodgers this weekend at Chase Field and now sit just four games back in the division.
After a shaky start where none of the three major parts of the team -- position players, starting pitchers, bullpen -- ever seemed to be in perfect alignment, the Diamondbacks seem to finally be putting it together.
In the beginning of the season, there was no consistency between those three parts. Some nights the players would hit and the bullpen would be lights out, but the starting pitching would put the team in too much of a deficit to win the game. If the starters were good, then it would seem that the relievers were not and the hitting wouldn't be there.
Instead of that inconsistency, now the D-backs are starting to get all aspects of their game rolling at once. A prime example of this was on Sunday, as Arizona was raking in the runs on offense, Trevor Bauer shut down the Dodgers over six innings and the bullpen slammed the door shut in the last three frames.
When the Diamondbacks get "complete" games such as that from all facets of the club, they play at the level of a World Series contending team, something many people picked them to be before the start of the season.
One thing I do want to touch on is the Diamondbacks pitching on Sunday, and just how great a sign it was not only for this season, but also for years to come.
Starting with Trevor Bauer, there had been questions about just how he and catcher Miguel Montero were meshing. There are not questions of it now, as the D-backs' top prospect pitched six scoreless innings and earned his first win in the majors in dominating fashion.
Following up Bauer was another young gun by the name of Patrick Corbin, who has found a new role as a reliever -- a role he has thrived in. Corbin threw two lights-out innings before getting touched for a run in the ninth.
Other teams in the National League should be genuinely scared with what's brewing in Arizona. With two strong pitchers like Bauer and Corbin in the majors already, and another young arm in Tyler Skaggs -- who pitched at the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday -- in the minors, the D-backs pitching staff seems like it will be scary good very soon.
Series Report Card
Record: A You couldn't have asked for a much better series than this if you're a D-backs fan. Yes, a sweep would have been fantastic, but taking three of four is just about as good. The D-backs looked like they were on the brink of falling apart after they lost the series opener on Thursday, but they bounced back to win three straight to put themselves only four back in the division heading into the All-Star break.
Offense: B The Diamondbacks offense was very inconsistent throughout this four-game series with the Dodgers. After being completely shut down for one run on five hits by Nate Eovaldi and the LA bullpen Thursday, the bats woke up to tag Clayton Kershaw for five runs in the sixth inning on Friday. It was nice to see the offense churn out runs in multiple innings in Saturday's game. One thing that is concerning about Arizona is that the team can only seem to win games when they get a fairly substantial amount of runs. The D-backs have scored at least five runs in 10 of their last 11 victories, and 15 of their last 17. This proves the offense has truly been the catalyst for this team in the first half of the season, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it would be nice to see Arizona win a 1-0 or 2-0 game (not that 7-1 is bad) but it's something they've only done once so far this season.
Defense: A- Arizona played much better defense in this series than they had been playing coming into the four-game set. Kirk Gibson said last week that he expected his team to turn the defense up a notch and sure enough, it happened. The most notable of the defensive plays of the series was the nice double play turned by Stephen Drew and Aaron Hill on Saturday night… Talk about a web gem!
Pitching: B+ Surprisingly, the worst starting pitching performance for Arizona in this series was the team's All-Star Wade Miley. Miley pitched 6.2 innings and gave up four earned runs in the process of receiving his fifth loss of the season at the hands of the Dodgers. After Miley left the game on Thursday, it was essentially smooth sailing for D-backs pitchers the rest of the weekend. Collmenter, Cahill and Bauer each earned a win and the bullpen - - outside of Bryan Shaw's collapse on Friday -- was in lockdown mode in each game. There were lots of good signs from the team's pitching staff heading into the All-Star break.
Managing: A Kirk Gibson has had to make some tough decisions regarding the center field position the past few games. Gerardo Parra has been good, and Chris Young has been in a bit of a slump of late. Even still, Gibson said he focuses on the matchups he has when choosing his lineup not just who is playing well. This consistency is a major reason why his players and coaches respect him and don't have a problem when he makes a lineup decision, as the skipper is usually right on.
Play of the Series: This award goes to the double play turned by Stephen Drew and Aaron Hill in Saturday's victory. Drew flipped the ball with his glove to Hill at second who proceeded to catch it bare-handed and relay to first in one motion to complete the twin-killing.
Player of the Series: With trade rumors circling, and boo-birds waiting at the wings, Justin Upton came out and performed in this series. He went 7-for-15 with five runs scored and 3 RBI in the four-game set. Included in those hits were his first two triples of the season.
The "Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag" award: This award goes to Bryan Shaw, who came in on Friday for the seventh inning, but was pulled after giving up one run and three hits without recording an out. He was the only dark spot in the weekend for the Snakes' bullpen.
Best Moment of the Series: This was Justin Upton closing out the first half on a high note, as the D-backs slugger came just a home run shy of a cycle on Sunday. He hit his first two triples of the season in this series and he definitely answered his critics with his bat in these four games.
The Road Ahead: The Diamondbacks come out of the All-Star Break in Chicago, taking on the Cubs. Joe Saunders could return for the second game of that series if all goes well in his rehab this week. The decision between Bauer, Corbin and Collmenter will be very interesting to see as Kirk Gibson will have to set the rotation with Saunders returning.
- Kirk Gibson, D-backs' Manager - Tuesday May 21Gibby on Pat Corbin, Adam Eaton's return, & Paul Goldschmidt's success.
- Eric Chavez - Friday May 17D-Backs 3rd baseman Eric Chavez joined Burns & Gambo to discuss his recent hot streak.
- Tim Kurkjian - Thursday May 16ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian joined Burns and Gambo to discuss the development of Diamondbacks star
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Wednesday May 15KT talks to Doug & Wolf about the big win over the Braves!
- Keith Law, ESPN MLB Insider - Monday May 13Law talks to Doug & Wolf about Justin Upton's return to AZ.