(Guest writer Kyle Maki is back at it with his third shot at earning a spot on our team. What do you think of him so far? Should we sign him?)
Home away from home
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the midst of a grueling stretch where 18 of 21 games are away from Chase Field. A stretch like this has the potential to derail a solid start to the season, so if the D-backs want to stay in the NL West race, they need to maintain a respectable record leading into the All Star break.
The D-backs have fortunately demonstrated an ability to win on the road this season and extended their current road winning streak to seven games before dropping the last two games against the Detroit Tigers.
D-backs Ballot Worthiness
The Diamondbacks are not led by a cast of superstars. The D-backs formula for winning is solid pitching and outworking the opponent. Manager Kirk Gibson has the team recommitted to hustling this season. The D-backs have a few All-Star worthy players and a handful of others that have the potential to be there one day.
J-Up is one of the few stars on the team. He hasn’t quite schemed superstar status yet, but experts around the league know he has the potential to be one of the great hitters in the game. Just last week Upton was named the National League Player of the Week. Although Upton has shown improvement at the plate, his numbers still don’t stack up against the best outfielders in a very crowded pool in the National League. Upton currently ranks 11th in All Star voting amongst NL outfielders.
Ian Kennedy (I-K?) may not get national recognition, but he deserves a tremendous amount of credit locally for his performance thus far in 2011. In a relatively short period of time, Ian Kennedy has turned into that true ace that the D-backs desperately needed. Kennedy appears to be getting stronger and more dominant as the season progresses. He pitches deep into games and gives the D-backs and chance to win just about every time he steps on the mound.
Who do you want to see?
D-back fans need to fill out the online ballot and vote for their favorite players. Only the fans can decide who will be representing the American and National League in the All Star game Tuesday, July 12, at Chase Field. The D-backs need the support of their hometown fans.
Fans are eligible to vote up to 25 times! Make your voice heard!
(More from farmhand Kyle Maki.)
Two of seven
In the 2011 MLB draft the Arizona Diamondbacks had two of the first seven picks of the draft, a luxury that no other franchise has experienced. While we could certainly lament the circumstances that landed them there, there’s no doubt that two high picks give the D-backs an excellent chance to land a couple of prospects worth getting excited about.
The D-backs used the picks on a pair of young starting pitchers:
Give them time
Only time will tell if the D-backs used their selections wisely, but one thing we know for sure; the selection of Bauer will not go unnoticed. His numbers this season rival some of the best pitching stats seen in recent years. Despite his impressive numbers, Bauer may be better known for his on-field antics than his abilities.
Prior to the draft there was a lot of discussion about Bauer’s routines and if this type of in-your-face conduct would be accepted in the big leagues. Video of Bauer’s controversial mound routine, which went viral on YouTube, shows Bauer starting from the back of the mound and doing a curl hop onto the rubber and then rifling the ball home to the catcher, each time he takes the mound.
Time for the big leagues
This type of individual display may be entertaining to watch in a college game, but not likely tolerated by major league purists. Regardless of whether Bauer alters his warmup routine, he should quickly become a familiar face to D-back fans for his pitches that count.
(With Paul Martinez leaving, we figured tryouts to find his replacement were in order. As such, this week is Kyle Maki’s shot at making the big leagues. Join me in welcoming him to the fold, but don’t get too attached. This minor leaguer needs to show his stuff before he earns his spot on our roster.)
Just a bit short
The Diamondbacks came up short in their attempt to win a sixth consecutive series when the Washington Nationals rallied to win a thriller on Sunday afternoon. The D-backs should be a little disappointed after taking a split at home against the last-place Nationals, but overall the team is playing well and continuing to exceed expectations.
Despite leading the league in come-from-behind victories, it didn’t seem like the D-backs would be able to erase a three-run deficit against a solid closer in Drew Storen. Once again the D-backs dug deep and found a way to plate three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. They were unable to complete the comeback this time around as the Nationals recaptured the lead in the 11th and held on for a 9-4 victory.
It would have been nice for the D-backs to find a way to win the game late and end the week in 1st place, but there are a lot of positives that can be taken from this game that could prove valuable as the season goes on. The D-backs comeback attempt came without the services of manager Kirk Gibson who was ejected in the eighth inning. Gibson was ejected automatically when reliever Esmerling Vasquez hit the Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa with a pitch. Both benches had been warned earlier in the game after players from both teams had already been hit with pitches.
Let it ride
It’s encouraging to see that in the face of adversity, the D-backs do not give up and are willing to step up to protect a teammate. The D-backs are already a close unit, but an added shot of camaraderie never hurts.
It will be interesting to see how the D-backs respond during their upcoming road trip starting Tuesday in Pittsburgh. If they can have another successful road trip, they’ll be in a position to regain the first place spot when thy face off at home against the Giants June 14-16.
So long, farewell
Paul Martinez, DPJ’s D-backs Digest writer, is moving on to focus on the pursuit of a balanced life and a 4-minute mile. This marathon runner/baseball writer has been with DPJ for the past two baseball seasons and deftly navigated the Win-Loss columns to serve up some hopeful news bites about our hometown team.
As the D-backs now begin show their mettle and the city looks forward to Downtown Phoenix playing host to the Major League All-Star Week, we know Paul will be root-root-rooting for the home team.
(Ed. note – Paul, you rock. Hope to see you in the stands, at all the good after-game hangouts and on the track earning more medals.)
The Arizona Diamondbacks looked to bounce back after their west coast road trip, as they began their home stand against the San Diego Padres. After losing the first game, the D-backs would split the two game series before taking on the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta, boasting a pretty solid record, was expected to sweep Arizona, but there was one small technicality; the Braves left their broom and their game at home. The D-backs would win both games against the Braves as they prepared to face the Minnesota Twins in interleague play.
One Sweep Deserves Another
After the D-backs were able to sweep the short series against the Braves, the team would host the Twins. With several local Minnesota transplants, the Interleague games brought solid crowds to watch the close games as the two teams went head to head. In the first game of the series, the D-backs would be able to get their lead to four runs before the Twins would make a valiant effort to stage a comeback in the ninth inning. The D-backs would hold on to win the game by one run.
On Saturday night, Kelly Johnson would hit his third career grand slam in what would prove to be the pivotal point in the game for the Diamondbacks. Arizona would go on to win the game by three runs. Sunday’s pitching duel between Daniel Hudson and Francisco Liriano kept the game close. Juan Miranda would homer for the D-backs helping with the score as the D-backs take the game and J.J. Putz secured his 12th save of the season.
Rock the Rockies
The Diamondbacks road trip will begin with a double header against the Colorado Rockies. This series is of extreme importance as the D-backs are right on the heels of the Rockies for second place in the National League West. The second half of the week will be spent in Houston as the D-backs take on the Astros.
Previous week’s schedule
5/16/11 Padres 8, D-BACKS 4
5/17/11 D-BACKS 6, Padres 1
5/18/11 D-BACKS 5, Braves 4
5/19/11 D-BACKS 2, Braves 1
5/20/11 D-BACKS 8, Twins 7
5/21/11 D-BACKS 9, Twins 6
5/22/11 D-BACKS 3, Twins 2
This week’s schedule
5/24/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 12:10 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/24/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/25/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/26/11 D-BACKS @ Rockies, 5:40 p.m., Coors Field, Fox Sports Arizona
5/27/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 5:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/28/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 4:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park, MLB.TV
5/29/11 D-BACKS @ Astros, 11:05 a.m., Minute Maid Park, Fox Sports Arizona