Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 1 - Defense Soars Mile High in Win

Record: 25-24. Pace: 83-81. Change on Last Season: +5

After splitting the double-header against the Rockies yesterday, the Diamondbacks got a bit of a breather and only played one in the evening glow at the base of the Rocky mountains. Staff ace Ian Kennedy was up against Jason Hammel for Colorado, and went pitch-for-pitch with him through the first seven innings of the ballgame. Colorado struck first but Arizona came right back and snatched the victory from over the center field wall to take over 2nd place in the NL West.

The Diamondbacks and Rockies exchanged zeros the first three innings. Arizona went down easy in the 1st inning; Miguel Montero worked a walk with two outs in the second inning; Ryan Roberts single with two outs in the third inning. For Colorado, they coaxed two singles from Kennedy in the first inning, but The Parrazooka caught Seth Smith taking too wide of a turn at second base and he was out easily. They had nobody on base in the 2nd or 3rd inning.

Justin Upton led off the 4th inning for Arizona with a rifling shot over the heads of Hammel and second baseman Jose Lopez. After Stephen Drew (unhappy with Chris Guccione's low strike zone) flied out to left, Justin Upton stole second and Chris Young then walked. With two runners on and Montero at the plate, Gibson started the runners on the 3-2 count. On Hammel's 19th pitch of the inning, Montero was called out on a strike that wasn't really a strike, and Upton was out at 3rd base to end the threat.

The Rockies had a chance to break through in their half of the 4th inning, too. The difference was, they turned their chances into a lead. Seth Smith lead off with a double, a wild pitch moved him over to 3rd base, and Todd Helton hit a deep sacrifice fly to Parra in left and the Rockies took a 1-0 lead.

The Rockies had another chance to score in the 5th inning. With two outs and Alfredo Amezaga at first base, Kennedy walked Dexter Fowler and hit Seth Smith with a curve ball to load the bases for Carlos Gonzalez. Thankfully, CarGo ground out harmlessly to Drew and Kennedy escaped the jam.

Arizona took that momentum into the 6th inning and ran - and hit - with it. Ryan Roberts led off with a slow groundout, but the non-Troy Tulowitzki-shortstop threw high and Roberts slid around and under the tag of Helton. Kelly Johnson laced a double to right that finally raised his batting average to .200, but Matt Williams stopped Roberts at 3rd base. With nobody out, the Rockies played the infield back to give up a run for a groundout, which is exactly what Justin Upton hit - a roller to the shortstop to tie up the game at 1-1. But the Diamondbacks didn't stop there. Stephen Drew hit a fly ball to deep left that, while it didn't go out, was deep enough to let Johnson tag up and go to third base. Kelly scored on a "Texas Leaguer" by Chris Young to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead.

Kennedy and Hammel continued to match each other pitch-for-pitch. Take a look at the cumulative pitch counts for each pitcher:

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
Hammel 15 29 39 58 69 87 99  
Kennedy 18 32 39 55 72 87 93 104

The Diamondbacks had a chance against two Colorado relievers in the 8th inning after Kelly Johnson led off with an infield single and stole his seventh base of the season. But Upton and Drew both struck out, and Young popped out to leave Johnson stranded at 2nd. It would've been nice to get some insurance runs going into the Rockies' half of the 8th inning, because due up was the heart of their order - Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Helton and Ty Wiggington.

That 8th inning was one "WHEW!" exhale after another. First, Kennedy put a heckuva sequence on Gonzalez, several breaking balls that he fouled off before striking out swinging on a fastball on the outside corner of the plate. Then came Helton, and he nearly tied it up on a home run down the right field line, but that headed foul. On the very next pitch, Kennedy threw a fastball inside on his hands that Helton popped up to Montero. Up came Wiggington, who belted a pitch straight back to deep center field, but a leap by Chris Young brought it back from above that yellow line, just as the water fountains were gearing up to be launched. That whole inning was just intense, and you have got to see the X-Mo replay of CY's catch. It's worth a look, and if it's not the Baseball Tonight Web Gem of tonight, well, that's just sad.

The first save of the day goes to Young for his leaping grab, and the second goes to J.J. Putz. He came in in the 9th inning to nail down Kennedy's first career win against Colorado. Lopez popped out lazily to Drew, and Iannetta and pinch hitter Jason Giambi hit fly balls to Chris Young. Clearly, they didn't learn from Wiggington (or Mark Grace) not to hit it to the center fielder. And that's how it's done, folks, with The Easy Button.

20110525_diamondbacks_rockies_0_20110525222346_live_medium
via www.fangraphs.com

Out of This World: C Young's leap, G Parra's left arm +10641%
Super Nova: I Kennedy, +52.6%
Star: K Johnson, +16.6%
Pluto: S Drew, -15.2%

It was a very quiet thread tonight, particularly the dull and boring early innings. It picked up a bit near the end, particularly that 8th inning. We ended with just over 400 comments, 62 of which were mine, 50 were Clefo's and 45 were ZM's. All present were Scottyyy, Rockkstarr12, Bcawz, imstillhungry95, Clefo, IHateSouthBend, Zavada's Moustache, BattleMoses, snakecharmer, asteroid, hotclaws, Sprankton, Jim McLennan, Muu, GuruB, Dallas D'Back Fan, NASCARbernet, TinySarabia, kishi, UAwildcats, Wailord, and Torpedosneak.

You people weren't funny tonight, so I went with IHSB's poignant comment about Parra and gold gloves:

I'd put him in contention for a Gold Glove
But he doesn't have the .300 average and home runs needed these days to win one of those.

by IHateSouthBend on May 25, 2011 5:59 PM PDT

So, there you have it. The Diamondbacks are in 2nd place in the NL West and are above .500 for the first time since the last day of the 2008 season. (Not counting opening day victories.) If Florida can hold their 3-2 lead over San Francisco, Arizona will only be 2.5 games out of 1st! We're in this thing, baby.

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