The San Francisco Giants have had the Arizona Diamondbacks number this season. Going into Thursday’s series finale the Giants had beaten the Diamondbacks five straight times and seven out of eight on the season.
The D-backs desperately needed a win against the NL West leading Giants and got one thanks to the bat of Justin Upton in the bottom of the 10th inning. Oh, and we can’t forget about Ian Kennedy’s arm either.
We know Kennedy didn’t refer to himself as the ace of the pitching staff earlier this year when he was asked, but when you pitch like an ace on a team without an ace, you are the team’s ace.
Coming into the series the D-backs were just half of a game out of first place. Another sweeping at the hands of the Giants and all of a sudden they would have been three-and-a-half-games out plus the negative mentality of a home sweeping in front of what some were calling their most important series since the 2007 NLCS.
Kennedy played the part of an ace to perfection in the 3-2 win. He was “The Stopper.” He stopped the losing streak against the Giants, stopped the series from being a sweep and stopped a home losing streak.
“My command was pretty good,” Kennedy said of his outing. “I was just trying to pound the zone as much as possible.”
In eight innings he gave up no earned runs (one unearned) on four hits. He struck out 10 Giants and walked one.
Enter the all of a sudden struggling D-backs closer J.J. Putz, and we end up with the Giants tying the game.
That’s where Upton comes in. The right fielder took a Santiago Casilla pitch over the right field fence and the D-backs came away victorious.
“It’s just awesome,” Upton said of his first career walk-off home run. “The fact that we just dropped two games and to be able to win in that fashion, hopefully it will be a little bit of a boost for our team.”
Headed into an Interleague weekend series with the Chicago White Sox the D-backs are 38-32 and just a game and a half out of first place. If there is such a thing as an important June baseball game, this was it.
It’s only one game but this may very well be a game we look back on in two months when the race for the division is getting tight and October is in the D-backs’ sights.
The Diamondbacks needed a win in the worst way and they got one in the best way.