Every time I see a game at Chase Field, I look at the championship signs. Of course, the D-Backs won it all when they beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Thank you, Gonzo! But, the last time we went as far as division champs was in 2007. I won’t even bring up the 2009-2010 season rankings!
Have you been watching this season? The D-Backs have won 9 out of the last 10 games and are currently SECOND in the NL West, just 1.5 games behind the Giants! Things are looking up :-)
(Courtesy of Nick Piecoro – Arizona Republic)
For weeks, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson recalled, his team was hitting but not pitching, then pitching but not hitting. But the Diamondbacks in recent weeks have begun putting it all together, a well-timed development, too, given the National League West’s increasingly unpredictable feel.
They won again Thursday night, beating the Colorado Rockies 6-3 to take three of four at Coors Field, pulling themselves another game closer to division-leading San Francisco and creating more reason to believe their status as contenders might not be a mirage in the desert.
“It’s absolutely wide open,” Diamondbacks second baseman Kelly Johnson said of the NL West. “Shoot, if we keep playing and pitching like this, it’s going to be fun.”
Johnson noted the fact that two of the division’s better teams have suffered crushing injuries in recent days, first with news that Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa will require season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery and then word that Giants catcher Buster Posey will miss significant time because of a leg injury.
“It’s kind of a big deal,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s kind of playing .500. We’ve been playing great. It’s our turn right now, and hopefully this just keeps going.”
On this night, it was right-hander Micah Owings’ turn to keep things rolling, as the former and once again current Diamondbacks pitcher threw strike after strike while tossing five crisp innings of one-run ball.
“He just absolutely pounded the zone,” Gibson said of Owings, who threw 59 of his 80 pitches for strikes. “That’s what you want to do.”
Said Owings: “That’s kind of been my focus lately, just pounding the zone and letting my defense work.”
Wanting to get his relievers some work – and, perhaps, not wanting to push his luck with Owings, who struggled in the sixth inning of his start Saturday - Gibson went to the bullpen early.
And despite a rough night from Esmerling Vasquez, who gave up two runs in the seventh, the move worked, as David Hernandez got the final five outs in place of closer J.J. Putz, who was off after having pitched on back-to-back days and four of the past five.
Putz, icing his elbow in the clubhouse after the game, said he felt fine, insisting he always ices whether he throws or not.
The club also got a lift from catcher Miguel Montero, who slammed a three-run home run off Rockies starter Clayton Mortensen in the fourth and made a slick, spinning play of a Troy Tulowitzki bunt to get the final out in the sixth.
After the home run, Montero had two more good at-bats, hitting a hard line-out to center in the sixth and singling in the eighth.
Gibson noted that Montero took an extra round of batting practice before the game.
“He said he found something,” Gibson said.
So have the Diamondbacks, who won their third in a row and ninth in the past 10 games. With the Giants losing to the Marlins earlier in the day, the Diamondbacks are within 1 1/2 games of first place and have a chance to keep rolling when they start a three-game series Friday against the Astros, owners of the worst record in the National League.