169 games from Opening Day until the end of the National League Championship Series against the Rockies. Which ones was the best one? I think we all have our memories of the season, which may or may not tie in with entire games - personally, I have a special fondness for the 8-7 win over the Padres, where St. Penelope slew the Rainbow Unicorn after a struggle worthy of Beowulf. But, here are the Pittie nominees in the category of the best five games played by the team in 2007. As before, the link opens a new window with the mlb.com recap of the game.
May 19 vs PIT: comeback from 7-1 down
This looked like a lost cause: the Pirates mauled Micah Owings to grab a 7-1 lead by the third inning and still were five runs ahead going into the seventh. However, Conor Jackson homered as Pittsburgh went to their bullpen, and with two outs and the bases loaded, Melvin turned to Tony Clark. On a full count, Tony crushed a fastball for our only grand-slam of the entire year to tie the game up, and in the eighth, Carlos Quentin had a two-run single, as Arizona came from six runs down to win, for the third time in franchise history. Said Clark, "It's a situation where guys put together a rally earlier in the inning, and I'm simply trying to put the bat on the ball and keep the line moving. So I wasn't trying to do anything extra special. I was fortunate enough to get into a count where obviously he doesn't want to walk a run in, and I put a good swing on the ball."
May 25 vs HOU: season-high 13 runs
The only ten-run margin of the year for Arizona was highlighted by Mark Reynolds going 5-for-5 with two homers and four RBI, on a day when the Four Musketeers of he, Drew, Hairston and Quentin went 12-for-18 with 8 RBI. Ironically, Houston scored first, and still had the lead in the fourth. But Quentin had a bases-clearing double, and Arizona blew things open in a fifth inning where they sent twelve to the plate, including seven bases by Reynolds. The eight runs there were the most in an inning since 2002, and the D-backs piled up 25 base-runners, the highest without extra frames since June 24, 2003, also against Houston. "Some of these nights, it just comes together, and we put some swings on some balls tonight," Reynolds said. "Luckily they found some holes."
June 6 vs SFG: 1-0 win over Giants
Beating the Giants is always good. Beating the Giants when scoring only once is priceless. This was the fifth straight game against San Franciso at Chase which Arizona won by a single run, and gave the D-backs their eleventh win in twelve games. The previous night, Chris Young won the game with a walk-off homer in the tenth, and he was the margin of victory again with another long-ball: this one came to lead off the seventh. Meanwhile, Brandon Webb gave the team seven shutout innings, and was assisted by the Byrnes/Snyder combo teaming up to nail Durham at the plate in the sixth. Melvin afterwards said, "It just felt like from the very beginning that it was going to be a game that it's going to be tough to score some runs."
Sep 21 vs LAD: 12-3 slaughter of the Dodgers
The win looked unlikely early on, with Livan Hernandez giving up seven hits and three runs in the first three innings. However, the Diamondbacks roared back to score eleven unanswered runs, demolishing their division rivals in a game that effectively ended the Dodgers' post-season hopes. Tony Clark had three hits and drove in four, including a two-run homer after the Dodgers missed a foul pop-up, while Mark Reynolds had three RBI. It was a performance described by Steve Gilbert as "ruthless", and Arizona went 6-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Melvin said. "Then our fans get into it. They were into it tonight, and that helps us out quite a bit. It's nice to see and emotionally for us a lot of times, that can be a contribution in an inning like that. We're into it, the fans are into it and it just seems to snowball."
Oct 6 vs CHC: clinch Division Series
Even two games up, I don't think Arizona was taking anything for granted, as they left the friendly confines of Chase and went back to Wrigley. If the D-backs had lost that one, they'd have seen Owings vs. Zambrano in Game Four, with the possibility of a Game Five looming like an elephant with toothache. However, Chris Young hit the first pitch of the game into the bleachers, while the Cubs hit into four double-plays, none bigger than with the bases-loaded for Chicago, one out in the fifth and the tying run in scoring position. Drew was 3-for-5 and Chris Snyder said after the game, "I think people are starting to see this is how we play baseball. We're going to go after it, we're going to be intense and we're going to push the envelope, and that's what we did."
Congratulations to Micah Owings, whose amazing double-barreled outing was easily the winner of Performance of the Year: a worthy winner, and probably one that is among the best ever by any Diamondback. It's certainly right up there with Johnson's perfect game, Hillenbrand's 15-base outing and Durazo driving in nine runs. And the virus is spreading. Viva El Birdos latched on to the South Park character generator, so you can see their take on the South Park Cardinals.