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Goldschmidt, Peralta pacing D-backs heading into final stretch

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, right, celebrates with David Peralta (6) after hitting a solo home run against the Miami Marlins in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — It’s no secret the Arizona Diamondbacks entered a five-game homestand atop the National League West because they’ve built one of the best defensive teams in baseball.

Clinching the division or a NL Wild Card spot, especially with one of the hardest closing stretches of the 2018 season, will likely require more balance.

Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta spent the last three weeks making reasonable offensive expectations for the D-backs look more than possible. Goldschmidt continued to make up for an abysmal May of .144 batting with a red-hot August where he’s so far putting up a .397 average and reaching base nearly half the time.

But it’s Peralta who’s been amongst the hardest-hitting sluggers in baseball.

“For me, I have been having a pretty good season,” Peralta said Tuesday before going 3-for-3 with a home run, double and walk in a 5-4 win against the Angels. “Every year I set goals. And to be healthy for me, if I were to spend the whole season healthy that’s a big plus for me. … I think it’s more the health. Last year I was coming from (August 2016 wrist) surgery.

“Just the comfort and trying not to do too much at home plate,” have helped him, he added. “Just be simple.”

In August, Peralta leads qualified MLB players with a .820 slugging percentage, mostly thanks to eight home runs hit in the last three weeks. For the year, he leads the D-backs with a .305 average.

“He’s put up great numbers. I know guys around the league take notice of that,” infielder Daniel Descalso said. “He might not get the publicity that a Goldy or A.J. (Pollock) does, but he’s pretty well-respected around the league.”

Often stacked before or after Goldschmidt in manager Torey Lovullo’s lineups, Peralta has given Arizona one of the more dangerous duos in baseball. Meanwhile, Goldschmidt is putting up All-Star numbers to nobody’s surprise.

Of course, keeping it up and staying even-keeled is always the challenge.

“Honestly it doesn’t matter now,” Goldschmidt said. “I haven’t really thought about it. I just try to have good at-bats every time I go up there and I try to live in the past whether I’m getting outs or getting hits.

“I’m not really looking at a stretch run or anything.”

LOVULLO GIVES HIS AHMED ENDORSEMENT

Nick Ahmed has put together a breakthrough season at the plate, which just might be garnering him more attention for his work at shortstop.

“For me he should win a Gold Glove,” Lovullo said Tuesday. “I’ve seen a lot of Gold Glove shortstops play. For me, none deserve more consideration than what Nick has done this year. He’s been as strong a reason defensive as to why we are where we are.”

“He plays like (his glove is) 14 inches long. As I got to know him and his baseball IQ is off the charts, I knew this is a really special leader on the defense,” Lovullo said. “This is somebody who wants to go out and be at the right place at the right time and lead the charge defensively. That’s invaluable as a manager.”

Ahmed is tied for third in MLB with 17 defensive runs saved.

BASE HITS

– The D-backs will flip-flop starting pitchers Robbie Ray and Zack Godley, who were scheduled to start Friday and Saturday, respectively. Ray will now move back to a Saturday start against the Seattle Mariners.

“We just liked the way it looked, whether it would be short term or long term. It’ll also give Robbie an extra day to work with (pitching coach) Mike Butcher,” Lovullo said, adding there are no injury concerns regarding Ray.

The manager also said the D-backs would consider flipping the two pitchers back in a few weeks if they don’t like what they see.

– Pitcher Shelby Miller (elbow inflammation) threw out to 75 feet Tuesday following a recovery from Tommy John surgery that ended after four starts.

– Outfielder Jarrod Dyson (lower core injury) continued to throw and hit on Tuesday. He is sprinting but the team is taking it slow testing his ability to backtrack and chase down deep fly balls.

“The couple areas that I know he’s concerned with is the drop step and explosive movements,” Lovullo said.

Lovullo said Dyson felt a grab when setting up to make a throw at one point in his recovery, which has kept the D-backs conservative in rushing him back.

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