Monday, May 30, 2011

Arizona Diamondbacks - Team of the Week (5/23-5/29)

Well I don't think this is a surprise choice, but it is a surprise as to how well the Arizona Diamondbacks have been playing lately.  For the second straight week the Diamondbacks are our choice for team of the week.  Just like last week, the Diamondbacks started out the week with a loss, but then won their next 6 to finish out the week and now have won 14 of 16 and have taken a half game lead over the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West, a division where many predicted the Diamondbacks to be buried at the bottom.  The Diamondbacks are now 29-24 on the year.

The week started off with a 4 game series against the Colorado Rockies a team struggling after a 17-8 start have since gone 8-19.  Josh Collmenter who in his first 26 innings in 2011 (which included 6 relief appearances and 2 starts) only allowed 2 runs and had a 0.69 ERA heading into the game, got the lone loss for the Diamondbacks for the week.  The Rockies offense exploded for a 12-4 win, which they had 14 hits including 2 hits from Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith, Jose Lopez, and Chris Iannetta.  The Diamondbacks jumped out a to an early 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning, the inning that ended Jorge De La Rosa's season after tearing a ligament in his elbow.  The Rockies bullpen finished the game going 6 2/3 innings pitched only allowing 5 hits and 2 runs.  After going 4 1/3 and allowing 5 runs, Collmenter was pulled and the bullpen imploded, going 3 2/3 giving up 9 hits 4 walks and 7 runs.  Aaron Heilman's struggles continue as he went 1 inning giving up 3 singles, a triple to Fowler and a home run to Gonzalez for a total of 5 runs.


Just like last week the Diamondbacks rebounded after a bad loss, winning the next 3 games in Colorado.  Game 2 Joe Saunders got his 1st win of the season going 8 strong innings only allowing 2 solo home runs and JJ Putz closed out his 13th game of the season as the Diamondbacks won 5-2.  Kelly Johnson the hitting hero, went 2 for 3 with a walk, 3 runs scored, 2 RBI, a solo home run and an RBI double, giving Jhoulys Chacin his 3 loss and arguably worst start of the year.

Game 3 was very similar to game 2, Ian Kennedy whose really stepped up his game in 2011 and is the clear ace of the Diamondbacks staff also went 8 innings only allowing 1 run on a sac fly from Todd Helton in the 4th.  Trailing 1-0 in the 6th the Diamondbacks offense finally got to Jason Hammel, after Ryan Roberts reached on an error to start the inning, Kelly Johnson doubled to make it 2nd and 3rd with no outs.  Justin Upton followed up with an RBI ground out and after Stephen Drew flew out to move Johnson over to 3rd, Chris Young got what ended up being the game winning RBI single.  Putz came on with a 2-1lead in the 9th once again retiring the side in order recording his 14th save.

In game 4 Micah Owings got his first win in more than a year as the Diamondbacks won 6-3, going a solid 5 innings only giving up 4 hits and 1 run.  Miguel Montero got the Diamondbacks on the board with a 3-run home run in the 4th for a 3-0 lead and after a Troy Tulowitzki RBI single, Melvin Mora drove in Chris Young to put the Diamondbacks up 4-1 in the 6th.  The Rockies cut the lead to 4-3 with 2 runs in the 7th off Esmerling Vasquez, but Kelly Johnson's 2-run double in the top of the 9th giving the Diamondbacks a 6-3 lead put the game out of reach, and David Hernandez recorded a 5 out save to give the Diamondbacks a 3-1 series win, as the Diamondbacks improve to a season's best 2 games over .500 at 26-24.

Arizona traveled to Houston to take on the Astros, the worst team in the National League.  Daniel Hudson didn't pitch well in game 1 (6 IP, 8 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned) but his offense picked up the slack to help him win his 6th game of the year and 3rd decision in a row.  This game was actually one of the best wins of the season for the Diamondbacks as they trailed 6-0 after 4th, showed a lot of heart by not giving up and letting the lead grow any bigger.  Juan Miranda got the Diamondbacks back in it with 2-run home runs in the 5th and 6th inning off Brett Myers, cutting the lead to 6-4.  In the 7th inning the Astros showed why they have the worst record in the NL, as they gave up 3 straight singles to start off the inning including an RBI single by Kelly Johnson to make it 6-5.  After Wilton Lopez loaded up the bases with only 1 out, Chris Young hit a little dribbler in between home and the pitchers mound and Lopez made an awful throw allowing 2 runs to score, giving the Diamondbacks a huge come from behind win 7-6, giving them 4 straight wins.

After a devastating loss the Astros failed to show up for game 3 as it was the Zach Duke show in his first start of the year going 7 shut out innings only allowing 3 hits and also hitting a 3-run home run in the 4th inning off Bud Norris making it 6-0.  The Diamondbacks went on to score 3 more in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th off reliever Jose Valdez to make it 11-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th.  The Astros scored 3 runs off Zach Kroenke in the 9th to avoid the shutout losing 11-3.

Trying to avoid the sweep at home JA Happ did all he could going 6 innings allowing just 2 hits and 1 run, as well as hitting a solo home run, the 2nd home run by a pitcher in the series in as many days.  As well as Happ pitched he only left with a 2-1 lead thanks to Josh Collmenter only allowing 2 runs over 6.  Astros reliever Jeff Fulchino came on to pitch the 8th and after striking out Willie Bloomquist, he allowed a Ryan Roberts single and stolen base, then struck out Justin Upton for the 2nd out.  Fulchino then intentionally walked Chris Young to put the winning run on base, and Xavier Nady made him pay by hitting a 2-run double.  Sergio Escalona came in to get the last out of the 8th but gave up an RBI single to Juan Miranda who added an insurance run to make it 4-2.  David Hernandez pitched a scoreless 8th and JJ Putz recorded his 16th save as the Diamondbacks finished off the sweep, winning their 6th in a row, and taking over 1st place from the Giants who had a tough week losing Buster Posey for the year.

So the question is are the Diamondbacks just taking advantage of an easy schedule or are they really this good?  I would say they are the real deal.  They've been winning games in so many ways such as the close pitching duels, come from behind wins, offensive marathons and blowouts.  They have a very good young staff led by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson and JJ Putz is back to being a shutdown closer.  Then of course they have the talented offense with Justin Upton, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Miguel Montero.  Will they keep this pace all year? Probably not but I do believe they will be there in the end competing for a NL West title.

Notable Player Stats
  • JJ Putz - 4 IP, 0 Hits, 1 Walk, 3 Strike Outs, 4/4 Saves
  • Miguel Montero - 6/20, 5 Runs, 2 Doubles, 1 Home Run, 6 RBI, 2 Walks
  • Juan Miranda - 3/15, 2 Runs, 2 Home Runs, 5 RBI, 2 Walks
  • Xavier Nady - 5/17, 2 Runs, 1 Double, 5 RBI, 1 Stolen Base
  • Kelly Johnson - 8/22, 7 Runs, 2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 5 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases, 2 Walks
  • Ryan Roberts - 7/24, 6 Runs, 3 Doubles, 2 Stolen Bases, 2 Walks
  • Stephen Drew - 6/18, 5 Runs, 1 Double, 2 RBI, 4 Walks
  • Chris Young - 7/23, 5 Runs, 2 Doubles, 4 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases, 5 Walks
  • Justin Upton - 5/19, 3 Runs, 1 Double, 1 Triple, 1 RBI, 4 Stolen Bases, 3 Walks

Previous winner - The Arizona Diamondbacks.