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Touch ‘Em All: Bats come alive against Colorado

Now those are the D-backs I’ve been waiting for since the
start of the season.

Of course I’m talking about the Diamondbacks I saw on
Tuesday and Wednesday, and not Monday. But those two wins
were so impressive, albeit against the Rockies, that I
feel as though I want to forget about the negatives from
Monday and revel in the positives of the next two games.

Excellent starting pitching, lots of timely hitting, and
very solid defense were the keys to the D-backs taking two
of three from the Rockies in this series.

However… Justin Upton was nowhere to be found in the two
victories.

Where was he you ask?

He was on the bench.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the drama surrounding
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson and his benching of star right
fielder Justin Upton. Before I share my opinion with you,
let me say this; Justin Upton is not playing well enough
to be in the lineup right now, plain and simple.

I feel as though Kirk Gibson may be over-managing the
Arizona Diamondbacks. His brand of managing, which demands
maximum effort and execution from his players, which was
easily tolerated by the players last year when the team
was winning, may be getting under the players skin now
that they are losing.

I compare this situation with Gibson, to that of Doug
Collins (the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers) this year.
Like Gibson, Collins is a well-respected coach who demands
a lot of his players, but when things aren’t going well
for Collins’ teams, his players have notoriously become
frustrated with his demanding nature, causing rifts
between the two sides.

While there is no rift between Kirk Gibson and his players
yet, if things continue to get rocky in the clubhouse,
there very well may end up being a rift between the
manager and players soon.

That being said… I am impressed with this D-
backs team’s ability to persevere through all this media
drama going on to take the final two games of this series
from the Rockies. A team of lesser character would have
folded, but the Diamondbacks responded in a big way, with
two dominating performances.

Series Report Card

Record: B+
The Diamondbacks looked abysmal on Monday, as they were
shut out for the first time all season. However, they
bounced back on Tuesday and Wednesday, as they absolutely
dominated the Rockies in the final two games of the series
to take the three-game set.

Offense: B
The D-backs offense put together back-to-back good days in
the final two games, amassing 17 hits on Tuesday alone.
With Upton out of the lineup, Aaron Hill, Jason
Kubel and Paul Goldschmidt all stepped up to the plate for
the Snakes. Goldschmidt is now the proud owner of a
14-game hitting streak, the longest of his career. At this
point, as it should be, much of the focus of the D-backs
seems to be on getting Upton right, but luckily for
the Snakes, the rest of the lineup seems to be starting to
click.

Defense: A
The Diamondbacks had a completely errorless series.
Although there were a few base hits that could have been
ruled errors when Ryan Roberts was at third on Wednesday…
but they weren’t, so the D-backs get an A.

Pitching: B+
How about Wade Miley? The most consistent pitcher on the
roster was at it again on Wednesday. He took a perfect
game into the 5th inning and earned his 7th win of the
season. On Tuesday, although they really didn’t need a
great pitching performance with the way they swung the
bats, the D-backs ace Ian Kennedy hurled 12 strikeouts in
what was his second consecutive outstanding start. The
only issue was Joe Saunders, who struggled on Monday, and
I’m sure he can feel the young prodigy Trevor Bauer biting
at his heels to get into the rotation. The D-backs are a
team based on solid starting pitching, if they get it,
they have a chance to make a run at the postseason.

Managing: B-
Kirk Gibson has had some very tough decisions to make of
late, and since I addressed the Upton situation above,
I’ll touch on another decision he has made that I am
completely opposed to. He chose to sit Paul Goldschmidt on
Tuesday, and yes I know they won 10-0. However, Paul
Goldschmidt was carrying a 13-game hitting streak into the
game (now 14), he is supposed to be the everyday first
baseman, so play him every day.

Series Awards

Play of the Series:
The two back-to-back plays of the series were in the
second inning on Tuesday, when Ian Kennedy had the bases
loaded, with only one out. Kennedy struck out the next two
batters he faced (Guthrie and Fowler) to get out of the
inning without giving up any runs.

Player of the Series:
The player of this series, for the second straight series,
is Goldschmidt. He sat on Tuesday, but I think it
is time that he starts playing everyday for this team. In
his last 14 games, he is hitting .451 with 5 homers, 10
doubles and a .980 slugging percentage.

The “Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag” award:
This award goes to Joe Saunders. After a very good April,
Saunders’ May and June have not been very good. He has to
pick it up soon; otherwise he may lose his spot in the
rotation to Trevor Bauer. I’ll hold back on saying which
of those two outcomes I think would be better for the
team, but I’m sure you can guess it pretty easily.

Best Moment of the Series:
The best moment of this series for me was talking to Ian
Kennedy in the clubhouse after Tuesday’s 10-0 win. Kennedy
looked and sounded like the Kennedy of last year, he was
confident, and in a relaxed, joking mood. Sure, that comes
with a big win, but even in wins, I haven’t seen him like
that since last season.

The Road Ahead:
The Diamondbacks continue their brief home stand with a
crucial three-game series with the Athletics. I say
crucial because following this series the D-backs hit the
road to take on two very good teams in the Rangers and the
Angels. It should be interesting to see Trevor Cahill vs
Jarrod Parker in
the “Battle of the Traded Pitchers” on Saturday, which is
also my favorite day of the season… Star Wars Day!