Stage set for first-place showdown
The Diamondbacks current nine-game California road trip is working out according to plan. The D-backs started the trip by taking two of three in San Diego and wrapped up another series win over the weekend in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the D-backs finally received a little help from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds did Arizona a favor by sweeping the San Francisco Giants in three-game weekend series.
The D-backs are currently only two games behind the Giants in the NL West standings. The next three days in San Fran are make-or-break time for the Diamondbacks. This represents the opportunity to tighten the race even more or potentially fall further back to a point of no recovery. The D-backs have taken care of business so far on the trip, but it will all be negated if the series is lost in San Francisco.
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Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton entered the game Sunday afternoon sporting an impressive streak of 10 games with an extra base hit. This is the longest such streak this season in the majors. Upton was able to get a single late in the game to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, but unfortunately, the extra base hit steak ended at 10 games. During the current hitting streak J-Up has six home runs and 19 RBI.
He has been leading the club offensively and continues to produce big hits in big situations. Upton appears closer than ever to realizing to potential that’s been talked about since he was taken first overall in the 2005 draft.
D-backs hope to strike Gold(schmidt)
Minor-league prospect Paul Goldschmidt is expected to join the Diamondbacks on Monday in San Francisco. The addition of Goldschmidt should excite D-backs fans. Goldschmidt has crushed minor league pitching for the better part of three seasons and this year playing for Double-A Mobile in the Southern League, has led the league in home runs, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS. Goldschmidt is hitting .306 with 30 bombs and 94 RBIs.
With numbers like that, there is reason for optimism and excitement. Goldschmidt could play as early as Monday and has the potential to instantly become an every day player.
Last-minute trade deadline activity
The Diamondbacks made room for Goldschmidt when current first baseman Brandon Allen was traded along with pitcher Jordan Norbeto to the Oakland A’s for reliever Brad Ziegler. Ziegler is a right hander with a unique submarine delivery that gives right handed hitters trouble. He should fill in nicely in a set-up role alongside David Hernandez.
The D-backs also acquired veteran starter Jason Marquis from the Washington Nationals. Marquis will most likely be looked on to eat some innings at the back end of the rotation. Overall the D-backs weren’t involved in any blockbuster moves, but the moves that were made should help the team down the stretch. The biggest move could prove to be the promotion of Goldschmidt to the big league club.
D-backs finish off winning homestand
The Diamondbacks’ 7-0 win on Sunday afternoon wrapped up a series win over the Colorado Rockies and gave the D-backs a 6-4 record for the homestand. Although winning six of ten is nice, the D-backs are currently not gaining any ground on the division-leading Giants. The D-backs will have a chance to take matters into their own hands when they face-off against the Giants at the end of the next road trip. The next ten days could make or break the season.
California here we come
The D-backs have a day off Monday followed by nine games in as many days on a tour of California. The D-backs are currently four games back in the West behind division-leading Giants and really can’t afford to fall any further back. The road trip starts out Tuesday in San Diego with three games against the Padres, followed by a three-game weekend series in LA against the Dodgers. Then on to San Fran to battle the Giants for three to wrap up the trip. The D-backs need take advantage of their head-to-head match-ups with the Giants if they want to compete for the pennant.
Well deserved attaboy
By now most D-back and MLB fans across the country have heard the story about the selfless act that was played out on national TV during the Diamondbacks telecast Wednesday night on FOX Sports Arizona. Viewers could see a young man handing a souvenir foul ball to another young boy who was obviously distraught after missing out on the same souvenir because he felt like the ball had been intended for him.
Ian McMillan, of Scottsdale, gave the younger boy the ball because he said it seemed like the right thing to do. He hadn’t seen the younger boy when he caught the souvenir but quickly realized the situation and immediately reacted in a manner that’s captivated the sports world and beyond. There is an unwritten rule in baseball that says you should give a souvenir to a younger fan. In most cases that means adults passing on to children, but here it was a 12-year-old boy sharing with another child maybe a year or two his minor.
Meet the players
Later, during the broadcast, Ian was called up to the booth where he was awarded an autographed Justin Upton bat from announcers Daron Sutton and Mark Grace. The Diamondbacks organization stepped up to show their appreciation by inviting Ian onto the field Friday for batting practice and to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Manager Kirk Gibson presented Ian with his own D-backs jersey and he was seen meeting the players and getting autographs.
Shiny, happy people
It was great to see a 12-year-old display a level of selflessness not often seen in today’s society – at any age. Also nice to see the local and national media recognize the good deed and reward Ian for his actions. Let’s hope that one day soon a selfless act like Ian’s can become the norm and not be viewed as quite so extraordinary. If that were the case our world would be a much better place to live.
D-backs need to finish homestand strong
The Diamondbacks have started the second half of the season fairly well by winning three of their first five games. The Dbacks took two of three at home against the Dodgers and have split the last two games against the Brewers. The D-backs still have five games remaining at Chase Field before heading off on a California tour starting next Tuesday in San Diego. The D-backs play three games in San Diego against the Padres before heading to LA for another three against the Dodgers and finish the eight game trip in San Francisco against the division leading Giants.
D-backs need a little help
The Diamondbacks currently find themselves four and a half games back in the standings, despite a decent start to the homestand. The Giants have won five of six to extend their division lead. For the Dbacks to close the gap, two things are going to need to happen.
-The Diamondbacks need to continue winning series. Also, when the Dbacks play head-to-head against the Giants, they need to find a way to gain some ground.
-The Giants need to start losing some games. After they wrap up the current series with the Dodgers, San Fran hosts a three game series against the Brewers. Then they’ll head out on a tough six game stretch in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Help may come in a different form
The July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline is approaching and word is that the Diamondbacks will be buyers. This is always an interesting time of the year because rosters can change quite drastically. Many teams will make changes to help position for a playoff push. The D-backs have expressed an interest in adding pitching. The D-backs seem solid at the top end of the rotation and the back end of the bullpen, but could use more reliable arms in middle relief and a solid fourth starter. Only time will tell how the roster will look on August 1 after the deadline has passed, but it seems very likely that changes will be made. Hopefully the D-backs can make some moves to retool and prepare for a pennant chase.
Life without Stephen Drew
Stephen Drew left the game on Thursday in the bottom of the 4th inning as he was tagged out at the plate attempting to score from second base. On the play, Drew’s right leg was caught underneath his body as he slid into the catcher. The Diamondbacks have confirmed that Drew suffered a fractured ankle on the play, likely ending the season for the D-backs starting shortstop. This is obviously a horrible break (no pun intended) as Drew is one of the leaders of the the young D-backs squad. In Drew’s absence it will be up to veteran Willie Bloomquist to fill the void at shortstop. Fortunately, Bloomquist filled in admirably for Drew earlier in the season and he’s more than capable of providing a spark.
Scary scene at annual homerun exhibition
Our national pastime nearly turned tragic, again, during the All Star Homerun Derby Monday evening at Chase Field. Photos and video captured the images as Kingman resident Keith Carmickle came dangerously close plummeting over the edge of an outfield concourse. If not for his friends and bystanders who were able to restrain him and bring him to safety, Carmickle would have faced certain bodily injury and even possible death.
Painfully ironic because earlier the same day funeral services were held in Texas for Shannon Stone, the Rangers fan who fell to his death while attempting to catch a ball thrown into the crowd by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Come on man
It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be reckless enough to find themselves in a similar situation only days after the entire country grieved the loss of Stone.
Our hearts went out to the firefighter and father who was living his American dream at an innocent ballgame with his son when tragedy struck. What happened in Arlington was a tragic accident, while what nearly happened here in Phoenix would have been something completely different. Photos from the scene show Carmickle standing on a narrow ledge inches away from a 20-foot drop.
Changes could be on the horizon
With the recent death and high profile near repeat, it seems inevitable that Major League Baseball will analyze practices and policies to determine if ballparks are safe for fans. The time could come when players will be prohibited from tossing balls or any souvenir into the crowd.
In addition, it seems very likely that structural changes will be made in stadiums across the country. Possibilities could include and not be limited to raising the height of railing near overhangs and adding netting under concourse ledges.
Keep things in perspective
Going to a baseball game is not inherently dangerous, but fans need to pay attention, use common sense and most importantly, stay in control. Regardless of any additional safety measures put in place, the fact remains that fans will always frenzy after souvenir items at sporting events.
As a society we’re in need of a serious reality check. When did it become acceptable to put your life at risk for a $7 piece of leather memorabilia? (ed note – some of the homerun derby balls had a gold cover, with a value of $150)
On a brighter side
It was nice to see Arizona fans show their support for outfielder Justin Upton during the homerun derby. D-back fans could be heard chanting Justin Upton’s name and booing NL derby captain Prince Fielder during his introduction. Fielder was criticized locally for choosing teammate Rickie Weeks over Justin Upton.
Too bad former D-back Mark Reynolds didn’t get to hit in his former home. He could have hit some mammoth blasts. He also could have been the first player to strike out in a homerun competition.
(Kyle Maki made our cut. Please welcome him to the team.)
It’s disappointing for local fans that there is not more D-back representation on display. Justin Upton was set to be the lone D-backs representative until it was announced that catcher Miguel Montero was added as a late replacement. J-Up was snubbed from the Home Run Derby and pitcher Ian Kennedy failed to accumulate enough fan votes to earn the “Final Vote”.
I like gooooooold
Attendees at Monday’s Home Run Derby will have a chance to bring home a valuable souvenir. MLB has announced that a portion of baseballs infused with real gold will be used during the annual exhibition. Each ball carries a retail value of about $150. A little advice to those sitting in the bleachers—you better bring your glove and maybe a bodyguard.
Midsummer Classic comes at a good time
The D-backs continue to surprise the league and have maintained their position in the standings despite being in the midst of a grueling stretch of games where the majority have been on the road. Like many teams at this point in the season, the D-backs are nursing some injuries and have been without the services of closer J.J. Putz since June 29.
The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for Putz. After the first two months of the season, Putz was putting up some of the best numbers in the league amongst closers. Since that time, his numbers have taken a dip and he eventually landed on the 15 day DL with tendinitis is his throwing elbow. This didn’t come as a surprise as it became apparent during his last couple appearances that J.J. just didn’t have the same stuff he displayed earlier this season. The D-backs will be excited to have their closer back in the pen, but in the meantime David Hernandez has been solid handling closer duties.
Well deserved R & R
Hopefully the D-backs will take a few days to relax and re-energize in preparation for a long stretch run. As proud as the organization deserves to be at this point, it’s important that they’re not satisfied. The D-backs need to stay hungry and continue to play with the same passion that they’ve demonstrated thus far. If that happens, D-backs fans should remain optimistic heading into the second half of the season.
D-backs look to continue halfway successful season
From a pure success standpoint, the D-backs have exceeded most expectations so far this season. However, for the 2011 campaign to be considered a complete success, the D-backs will have to continue performing at the same level for the second half of the season.
The Diamondbacks are currently three games out of first place in the NL West chasing only the San Francisco Giants. Prior to the start of the season, it’s hard to imagine anyone predicting the D-backs remaining in the pennant chase up to the midway point of the season. Of course it would be ideal to have a ten game lead right now, but given the teams recent futility the last couple seasons, the current standings are a pleasant surprise and more than anyone could have asked for.