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Touch ‘Em All: D-backs drop series to Phillies

The Arizona Diamondbacks lost two of three games to the
Philadelphia
Phillies this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.

This was a series the Diamondbacks should have won.

Obviously a team can’t win every game, especially when Roy
Halladay
pitches like Roy Halladay — which he did on Saturday. In
those situations, a loss
is understandable.

However, in a game like Sunday’s, a gritty, grind-it-out
contest that
would decide the series’ victor, Arizona was outplayed by
the Phillies.

In a heads-up play, the sort of play you see from D-backs’
players all the
time, John Mayberry Jr. of the Phillies scored from second
on a throwing error to first from pitcher David Hernandez.

Arizona has the fewest errors of any team in the NL (56),
but as the
D-backs have found out several times this season, it only
takes one error
to cost you a game.

Looking on the bright side, I think it is time to give
Justin Upton a
little bit of praise. The much talked about right fielder,
who has been
having a rough season from any angle you look at it, has
really been
coming on strong over the last eight games.

In that time span, Upton has tallied at least one hit in
seven games, while
boasting a .344 batting average. In six of those games, he
has also scored
at least one run, totaling nine runs in the eight-game
span. His average for
the season is currently .277, which is the highest it has
been since
June 30th. And while this average isn’t really anything to
brag about,
Upton’s on-base percentage (.364) ranks 30th in the
majors.

The 24-year-old has shown promising glimpses of his old
form, giving me
hope at some point he’s going to break out in a big way
and become a
force to be reckoned with in the heart of the D-backs’
order.

In fact, I’m going to call it. August will be Justin
Upton’s big breakout
month, the month that makes fans say “thank goodness we
didn’t
trade him.”

Upton’s batting average in August so far is a staggering
.466. Let’s see
where and if it can go up from here.

Series Report Card

Record: C-

The Phillies came into this series fresh off of a fire
sale, while Arizona came
in off of an impressive sweep against the rival Dodgers.
The Phils might be
10 games under .500, but they are still tough to beat with
the pitching staff
they have. That being said, the D-backs should not have
lost this series,
they are the better team but just didn’t play like it.

Offense: B

After several very good offensive games against Los
Angeles, Arizona
slowed down a little bit in Philadelphia. The team plated
three runs in four
innings against Kyle Kendrick on Friday, which was good.
However, Kirk
Gibson’s squad was then blanked over the next four innings
by the likes of
Horst, Rosenberg and Bastardo, not exactly what you’d call
a “shutdown”
bullpen.

Then there is Saturday’s contest, in which the D-backs
managed only four
hits. I can’t really blame the team 100 percent for the
bad showing in this
game, simply because they caught Roy Halladay on a day he
decided to
pitch like the two-time Cy Young Award winner that he is.
In what was one
of Doc’s better games of the year, Halladay silenced the
D-backs for three
hits in seven innings on the way to the 3-0 Phillies
victory.

On Sunday, the D-backs used the longball to score their
runs, but were
really unable to get anything going besides that. And
twice, in the sixth and
ninth innings, Justin Upton singled to reach first with no
one out, and Chris
Johnson hit into a double play.

Defense: B+

Arizona had one error in this three-game series,
unfortunately it was the
leading factor as to why they lost the series to the
Phillies. The error came
in the eighth inning on Sunday, when David Hernandez hit
Dominic Brown
with a bad toss to first that could have been an out.
Instead, John Mayberry
Jr. scored from second on the play, tying the game at
four. The Phillies
would go on to win with a walk-off single by first baseman
Ryan Howard in
the ninth
inning.

Pitching: B-

Ian Kennedy had a very solid outing on Friday, but threw a
lot of pitches
and was taxed after the sixth inning. Joe Saunders’ good
effort on
Saturday was overshadowed by Roy Halladay’s dominant start
against him.
Trevor Cahill delivered a solid performance on Sunday,
allowing three runs
in seven innings, but was unable to get a decision.

Overall, it was a respectable showing for the D-backs’
starting pitchers.
However, when you consider they were, outside of Utley,
Rollins and
Howard, really pitching against a Triple-A lineup, the
starters should have
had much more success than they did.

Managing: B

Kirk Gibson made a very interesting move, which I believed
was the right
one to make, by opting to pitch to Ryan Howard instead of
Chase Utley with
the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday.
Unfortunately,
the right move doesn’t always work out, as Howard smacked
a single into
right field to win the game, and the series, for the
Phillies.

Series Awards

Play of the Series:

The back-to-back home runs hit by Chris Johnson and
Stephen Drew in the
second inning off of Cliff Lee Sunday was the highlight of
the series
against the Phillies. Luckily for Drew, the wind was
carrying the
ball, or his shot would’ve been pretty much a routine fly
ball out to center.

Player of the Series:

Diamondbacks’ right fielder Justin Upton hit a whopping
.546 in the
series, including a home run and three runs scored.

The “Dikembe Mutombo Finger Wag” award:

David Hernandez wins this award for his terrible
underhanded toss to first
in the eighth inning on Sunday, which may have cost the D-
backs the
victory. Come on, man!

The Road Ahead

The Diamondbacks continue their stay in Pennsylvania with
a four-game
set against the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Rookie
left-hander Wade
Miley (12-6, 2.98) is scheduled to start Monday for
Arizona. He will face
fellow southpaw Erik Bedard (5-12, 4.83).