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The 5: Defining moments of the D-backs’ season so far

A 53-36 start to the season has the Arizona Diamondbacks second in a competitive NL West and with the third best record in the majors.

Despite it marking the best start to this point in franchise history, it hasn’t come without some lows. But the D-backs responding to those lows with even more highs has been the theme, and it’s been more than contributions from four All-Stars that have got them to this point.

Five moments stand out not only for the exciting moments they were in a vacuum but what they say about the team at the midway point of 2017.

WALK-OFF START

They talked about winning moments in the spring.

It didn’t take long for that to carry into the regular season.

Opening the season against the San Francisco Giants on April 2, the Diamondbacks entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-4 before faces new and old rallied them with two outs.

Catcher Jeff Mathis doubled before infielder Daniel Descalso singled pinch-runner Jeremy Hazelbaker home to tie it. Then, after A.J. Pollock singled to move Descalso to third, Chris Owings laced one to right field to take the walk-off win at Chase Field.

In a way, it was a solid way to begin erasing the bad luck from the year prior, when they finished with a worse home record than road record.

SHELBY’S START, INJURY

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Shelby Miller’s nightmare 2016 season looked like it was in the rearview mirror.

His velocity spike and his ERA dipped from a miserable 6.15 last season to 4.09. But in his fourth game on April 23, disappointment came in a different form.

Miller left with right forearm tightness and after three consultations with doctors, he elected to undergo Tommy John surgery.

It was heartbreaking news, but the D-backs responded.

Zack Godley wouldn’t take long to cement himself as Miller’s replacement and has since started 11 games, going 3-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, both better than every other starter including All-Stars Ray and Greinke.

ROCKING HIS OLD ROCKIES

Starters Patrick Corbin of the D-backs and German Marquez of the Rockies got the pitching duel started on April 30. Their bullpens continued the trend deep into the game — very deep.

The game was scoreless through 13 innings when Brandon Drury singled off Colorado reliever Jordan Lyles and Descalso smashed a home run to right field that gave Arizona a 2-0 victory over the Rockies, who like Arizona had blown past preseason expectation in the competitive NL West.

In one play, it represented the contributions from a group of veteran offseason additions who have made their presence felt.

Descalso, Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta, Gregor Blanco and Fernando Rodney have all impacted the D-backs positively in their respective roles.

RAY’S FIRST

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Robbie Ray’s streak of 27.2 scoreless innings ranked third-longest in the franchise record books, and at the heart of it was his first career shutout in a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 30.

The streak had much to do with the left-hander’s rise into All-Star status this season.

After the shutout, Ray’s away ERA dipped to 0.64 through 42.1 innings to that point in the season. And with it, Ray was the first D-back to throw one with 10 or more strikeouts on the road since Randy Johnson tossed such a gem in 2004.

GOLDY’S BIG GAME OVERSHADOWED

Paul Goldschmidt ripped two home runs on Mother’s Day, May 14. His initial dinger went 417 feet over the left field wall at 107 mph.

His second home run traveled 453 feet and clanged off the Chase Field scoreboard.

Unfortunately, the two home runs were overshadowed. A.J. Pollock injured his groin running to first base in the 10th inning, and Arizona fell to the Pirates with pitching Patrick Corbin manning an outfield spot and Zack Greinke pinch running.

That began a 44-game stretch without the D-backs’ starting center fielder, but in that disappointment developed another storyline. Arizona went 31-13 without Pollock, who returned for six games before the All-Star break and is batting .288 on the year.

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