Back from Death Factory: Bloodletting, safe and sound. For, contrary to Hacks' prejudices, nobody was slaughtered in real life. [Some people need to keep telling themselves, it's only a movie...it's only a movie] Nice to see Owings and Hudson getting recognized for their efforts over the past season: I'm wondering if we will be looking to move Hudson - either during the off-season or at the trade deadline - since he is due to become a free-agent at the end of the upcoming year. Or will be content to sit back and harvest draft picks? It's something that management are hopefully planning towards, since I'm not sure that Bonifacio or Callaspo are the long-term answer at second.
Anyway, after a brief break for the Matt Williams poll, time to move on with the second of the Pitties, this one for the best single-game performance of the year. There were some great achievements by Arizona players over the course of the season, even though this was a team performance par excellence. So, these are the nominees for this award: poll to be found at right. Please only vote once, or I'll be forced to forward offending IP addresses on to Homeland Security, as Al Qaeda sympathizers. :-)
Mark Reynolds, 5-for-5, 2 HR, May 25 vs HOU
In only his tenth major-league game, Mark Reynolds announced his arrival in no uncertain form, swatting two homer-runs, a triple and two singles against Houston, driving in four runs as we scored a season-high 13. He was the first player to have a five-hit, multi-homer appearance in the first ten games since Shane Spencer for the Yankees back in 1998. Said Mark, "All the chips fell in place, and I was able to get my shot. I've always heard if you get your shot you've got to take advantage of it because it may only happen once. So that's what I'm trying to do, just staying on an even keel, not get too high or too low and playing the game hard."
Juan Cruz, 3 IP, 0 H, 4 K, Win, July 21 vs CHC
After dropping the opening game in Chicago, things looked bleak for Arizona, as Micah Owings lasted only four frames. However, former starter Cruz stepped up, pitching his first three-inning stint since become a reliever for the D-backs. He faced the minimum nine batters and allowed no hits, with the only base-runner a walk which was promptly erased on a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double-play. That kept the game tied, Drew homered in the eighth, and the team started an eight-game winning streak which took them to first place. A classic Cruz quote: "I don't even think about my pitch count, or how many innings I've got. I just think about getting them out."
Justin Upton just misses the cycle, August 7 vs PIT How many teenagers have a three-hit game of any kind in their fifth major-league appearance? The last was Ivan Rodriguez back in 1991, but even he didn't fall a single short of the cycle. Upton tripled in the second, homered to left in the fourth, and doubled in the seventh. He came up with two outs in the ninth needing the easiest part - a single - but his grounder was just too close to the second baseman. "Me being fresh and new to the team, they tried to figure me out, and I just happened to see some pitches," Upton said. "This was in a losing effort. You always want to win, and we didn't win today. I played well, but it's in a losing effort, so it's not as great as I want it to be."
Brandon Webb, complete game two-hitter, Aug 17 vs ATL
Picking one Webb gem is tough, but this was his third consecutive complete-game shutout, extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings, and was the highest game-score by a Diamondbacks this year, an 88. He allowed only two hits, walked one and struck out six. Only one runner reached second, and that was because Young allowed a bloop to get past him (though he also had two homers). After the game, having become the first pitcher in almost a decade to throw back-to-back-to-back shutouts, he said "It's totally amazing to me. Things are just going my way. It's been so long, it's going to be weird out there, actually, when I give up a run. It's going to happen sometime. I just don't know when."
Micah Owings, 4-for-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 7 IP, Aug 18 vs ATL
How many hitters had a four hit, two homer, six RBI game last year? That would be six in the entire major-leagues. But for a pitcher? In the past fifty years, only a handful of pitchers have driven in six runs in a game, and only Owings had four hits. He was a triple away from being the first pitcher ever to hit for the cycle, and his eleven total bases were the most for any pitcher since the Boston Braves' Jim Tobin homered three times in May 1942. "I'm just blessed," Owings said. "Early on in the season I was racking up some 'W's'. I had to learn some things and iron some things out. To be back home and have the game that I did tonight, that's all I can say, I'm unbelievably blessed." Add seven innings on the mound too.
Micah Owings, complete game two-hitter, Sept 18 vs SFG
For, did I forget to mention: Owings can pitch, too. From August on, in ten starts, he had a 3.02 ERA and K:BB ratio of 45:13. None was better than this performance against the Giants, where he faced only one batter over the minimum. Owings bounced back from a couple of outings where he didn't get past the third, by going the distance and restricting the Giants lineup to only two hits and one walk, as he posted his first career complete-game shutout. He said, "My ups and downs this year have been unreal. It seems I've had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I just tried to focus each pitch at a time. I know it's kind of cliche, but it's really about focusing on each pitch and executing and not worrying too much about this or that. Just trusting my stuff."