Who are the 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks? Expectations couldn’t have been higher for this team coming into the season. Through the first 96 games, the team has struggled to reach those lofty hopes. At times things seemed to be clicking and all signs indicated that a run wasn’t far off.
Unfortunately, something has always popped up to derail any prolonged success and disappointing stretches have outweighed the positives. Just when the D-backs had positioned themselves to creep back into things, they were swept at home against the Padres. Then after an inexcusable sweep in Chicago, the D-backs had a chance to salvage the road trip by winning the series in Cincinnati, just to blow a 6-run lead in the most disappointing loss of the season.
Despite the inconsistencies, underachievement, trade rumors and disappointment, the D-backs have managed to battle back to .500 and are still within striking distance of the Giants in the NL West and remain in contention for a wild card spot. The D-backs are finally taking care of business at home and beating teams they’re supposed to beat. If that trend can continue, the D-backs can keep things tight and play some meaningful baseball into August and September.
Put your hands together for Jason Kubel
If you’ve got a fever and the only prescription in more Kubel, then you’ve had plenty of medication to remedy even the most persistent headache. In a season characterized by the underachievement of key players, Jason Kubel has been an unquestioned bright spot. Kubel has made plays defensively throughout the season that answered questions about his rumored defensive deficiencies. Now he has been letting his bat do the talking. Kubel leads the team with 21 home runs and leads the National League with 71 RBI. He has picked up Justin Upton time after time and has established himself as the most feared bat in the lineup.
Upton trade talks say a lot
At this point it sounds more and more like Justin Upton isn’t going anywhere. At least not right now. Regardless, the trade talks have been surprising, distracting and speak volumes to how disappointed management has been thus far regarding individuals and the team as a whole. Upton has always been one of the few players on the untouchable list – the short list of players that the team would never consider moving.
Upton was an MVP candidate last year and is supposed to be the cornerstone and future of the franchise. Hard to imagine things changing so quickly. There is no question that Upton has fallen well short of projected numbers, but trading him would verify a lack of confidence that he’ll ever reach his full potential.
Mark your calendars for upcoming promos at Chase Field
July 28 – Justin Upton Silver Slugger bobble head giveaway to first 20,000 fans courtesy of Pepsi
July 29 – Back-to-School Backpack giveaway to first 5,000 kids courtesy of Cox Communications
Following a successful home stand, the D-backs have found themselves in legitimate pennant contention. The once insurmountable Dodgers lead has been trimmed to a mere five games. For most of the season, the math hasn’t been in the D-backs favor. The D-backs have struggled to regain their mojo from last season, while the Dodgers got off to an unexpectedly hot start. Even the most optimistic fan could see that the uphill climb may be too much to conquer.
Nonetheless, the D-backs continued to plug away and appear to have found that missing spark. The Dodgers on the other hand have cooled off considerably and come down to earth. The Dodgers have lost six of seven, while the D-backs have won five of six and are fresh off a three-game-sweep of the Cubs.
Upton on the verge
Last week was an interesting one for the the D-backs offense. There is no question that the D-backs need Justin Upton to live up to his potential if they are going to contend for a division title.
However, it was Aaron Hill whose bat lead the team during the home stand. Hill collected hit after hit throughout the week and hit for the cycle on Monday, but what happened on Tuesday may have been even more eye-opening. With two outs and runners on second and third, the Mariners intentionally walked Hill to face Upton with the bases loaded. Upton has MVP talent and should be one of the most feared bats in the big leagues. Like he has done much of the season, Upton responded by striking out. It didn’t take long for Upton to redeem himself.
On Wednesday, with a base open and no outs, Hill drew another walk. This time, Upton responded with a mammoth three-run homer. Fans have been waiting patiently for him to respond in a big situation. Maybe this is exactly what he needed to break out of the season-long slump.
The D-backs hit six home runs in the game on Wednesday tying a franchise record. The sixth was an inside-the-park variety courtesy of Ryan Roberts.
Trevor Bauer is expected to start the game on Thursday in Atlanta. This marks one of the most highly anticipated pitching debuts in franchise history. Bauer would also be slated to make his home debut next Tuesday against the Padres.
Wade Miley continues to impress and is the frontrunner to represent the team in the All-Star game. Miley has been pitching like and ace while Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have struggled to reach expectations.
Mark your calendars for upcoming promos at Chase Field
July 4: D-backs 4th of July t-shirt giveaway to first 20,000 fans; Fireworks Night presented by Gila River Casinos, Mysteryball to benefit Pastime for Patriots.
The Arizona Diamondbacks closed a successful week as they continue their National League West road trip against some division rivals.
Rocky Mountain High
The D-backs started the week off with a victory against the first place Colorado Rockies in the Mile High City. Justin Upton drove in the game-winning run, belting a homer to secure the game for the Diamondbacks. In game two of the series, the D-backs tried to stage a late game comeback, but lost to the Rockies by a score of four to six. In the third and final game of the series, Upton played the hero role once again as he drove in the game winning run with a walk-off single. The Diamondbacks took the series and the momentum to San Diego to face the Padres.
San Diego marked the beginning of the D-backs’ California road trip and the final series of the week. In the first game of the series, both teams took the game into extra innings where the D-backs would walk in the game winning run for the Padres in the eleventh inning. In the second game of the series, Daniel Hudson shut out the Padres as the D-backs won the game by a score of six to nothing. In the final game of the San Diego series, the Diamondbacks were unable to bounce back from an immediate four-run deficit. Although they scored a third run in the eighth inning, the D-backs were unable to regain the lead.
Oh, What a Relief?!
As the Diamondbacks prepare for the remainder of their California road trip, one item of note is that of the performance of the bullpen. It has been a while since Arizona fans have seen any production out of the Arizona bullpen, but the relief has been looking pretty solid, allowing very few earned runs to date.
On Tap This Week
The D-backs will head north to San Francisco for a three game series against the Giants before returning to Southern California to face Andre Ethier (of St. Mary’s High School and ASU) and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Previous week’s schedule
5/3/11 D-BACKS 4, Rockies 3
5/4/11 Rockies 6, D-BACKS 4
5/5/11 D-BACKS 3, Rockies 2
5/6/11 Padres 4, D-BACKS 3
5/7/11 D-BACKS 6, Padres 0
5/8/11 Padres 4, D-BACKS 3
This week’s schedule
5/10/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 7:15 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/11/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 7:15 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/12/11 D-BACKS @ Giants, 12:45 p.m., AT&T Park, Fox Sports Arizona
5/13/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 7:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona
5/14/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 4:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona
5/15/11 D-BACKS @ Dodgers, 1:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium, Fox Sports Arizona
The countdown to the 2011 All-Star Game begins today. Justin Upton, selected by Major League Baseball as the official spokesperson for the 2011 MLB All-Star FanFest, will kick off festivities today with a Ticket Hunt.
Joined by former Arizona Diamondbacks’ star Luis Gonzalez, the 3:30pm Ticket Hunt gives fans six chances to find and win special ticket packages for the FanFest on July 8-12.
“I am excited to be a part of All-Star FanFest. It’s basically a baseball theme park for all ages; it’s very interactive and brings people closer to the game,” said Upton. “I’m also glad MLB is doing the Ticket Hunt again this year because it’s a really fun way to reward passionate fans. The winners won’t be disappointed with the package they receive.”
The first eligible fan at each location in the Greater Phoenix area that finds the MLB All-Star FanFest Ticket Hunt red package(s) will receive four tickets to all five days of MLB All-Star FanFest, Holiday Inn Priority Club Rewards Pass lane passes enabling them to go to the front of the line for select attractions, food vouchers and a voucher for a baseball autographed by Upton.
Tickets are usually $30 for adults and $25 for children ages 12 and under, senior citizens and military personnel.
The Ticket Hunt will kick off at 3:30 p.m. with details at the official All-Star Game website and will run until 7 p.m. or until all six packages are found, whichever comes first. We’ll likely be tweeting up a storm during the event, so be sure to follow @dtphxjournal for results and tips during our live event coverage.
Upton and Gonzalez will be at one of the locations to help congratulate winners.
With the Diamondbacks pretty much out of the playoff picture, they have the rest of the season to play the spoiler role. As they did last year, the D-backs are looking to make life difficult for some of the National League playoff contenders. The Diamondbacks face both the Rockies and the Giants in two more series as they hope to make the running for the NL West more interesting for both teams. Additionally, the D-backs have the opportunity to put a skid on the Reds’ winning ways in a couple of weeks.
This past week was a hot one for the D-backs, as the temperatures cooled down in Phoenix (OK, slightly cooled down). The team played solid baseball, winning five of their last six against some pretty demanding opponents. In the first series against the Giants, San Francisco was at risk of being swept at home by the Snakes, who put up some excellent offensive numbers. The highlight of that series was Barry Enright throwing a shutout against the Giants’ perennial Cy Young award winner, Tim Lincecum. After blanking the Giants, the D-backs drove in 11 runs the following day before losing a close one at the end of the series.
Arizona returned home to face the National League West-leading San Diego Padres in what promised to be a challenging series. Apparently the D-backs did not get the memo, as they made quick work of the Padres by successfully sweeping them in the three-game series. The most significant contribution of the series was that of Brandon Allen, who was called up from the minors again for the end of this season, and helped the Diamondbacks complete a stellar come-from-behind victory. Allen hit his first grand slam to seal the Padres’ fate.
In addition to the winning stint, there was plenty going on off the field, when Justin Upton’s shoulder became a concern earlier this week. The D-backs called up two left-handed pitchers, Mike Hampton and Zach Kroenke, from Triple-A Reno. Rookie pitcher Daniel Hudson won co-honors for the Rookie of the Month for his pitching prowess. (Hudson arrived in Arizona as a result of the Edwin Jackson trade earlier this season.) Additionally, a rehabilitation update was given for Brandon Webb, whose future with the team is questionable as his contract nears its end this season. There is a lot going on for the Diamondbacks, who already seem to be retooling for the 2011 season.
This week, the D-backs will face the Astros and the Giants at home. This weekend’s promotions include a Miguel Montero bobble head giveaway to the first 15,000 fans on Saturday against the Astros and a Mark Reynolds growth chart that will be given to the first 5,000 kids ages 12 and under. Finally, on Wednesday against the Giants, it will be Roberto Clemente recognition day as the D-backs wrap up their home stand.
|Last week’s games|
|Fri, 8/27||at Giants||W 6-0|
|Sat, 8/28||at Giants||W 11-3|
|Sun, 8/29||at Giants||L 7-9|
|Mon, 8/30||Padres||W 7-2|
|Tue, 8/31||Padres||W 7-4|
|Wed, 9/1||Padres||W 5-2|
|This week’s games|
|Fri, 9/3||Astros||6:40 p.m.||Fox Sports Arizona|
|Sat, 9/4||Astros||5:10 p.m.||MLB.TV|
|Sun, 9/5||Astros||1:10 p.m.||Fox Sports Arizona|
|Mon, 9/6||Giants||1:10 p.m.||Fox Sports Arizona|
|Tue, 9/7||Giants||6:40 p.m.||Fox Sports Arizona|
|Wed, 9/8||Giants||6:40 p.m.||Fox Sports Arizona|