Record: 55-47; Pace: 87-75; Change on last season: +18
And that's why they play the games folks. On paper, this did not look like an enviable matchup with a red-hot Ubaldo Jimenez going against Micah Owings and our struggling middle relief corps. Fortunately MLB insisted the game be played and Justin Upton lifted the team on his broad shoulders and led the Dbacks to a series rubber game win 7-0 over the Colorado Rockies. There were plenty of highlights in this wonderfully played game, so hit the jump for all the details.
Justin Upton went 4-4 with 3 RBI (giving him 9 in the last two games) and Micah Owings and Zach Duke combined on a 5-hit shutout (say what?) to lead the boys to a critical 7-0 win over the Rockies. Upton is easily the hottest hitter in baseball right now and it couldn't have come at a better time with the Giants seeming to win every day (and typically of the 2-1 variety). While we're coming to expect this kind of production from the team's All Star what we didn't expect was five shutout innings from Owings followed by four shutout innings (and a save!!) from Zach Duke.
Owings tried to get himself in trouble in both the first and third innings. In the first, after striking out Dexter Fowler to start the game he gave up a single to Herrera and a walk to Helton. With Troy Tulowitzki striding to the plate many of us were cringing at how the game was going to start. But Tulo offered at the first pitch and hit into a tailor-made double play to close the first. (Thank you God!) JUP walked and stole second in the bottom of the first but Chris Young struck out to end the inning.
After a one, two, three second by Owings he quickly started the third with a walk, a sacrifice by Jimenez and another walk. But Herrerra flied to right on a very questionable hit and run play that Manager Jim Tracy would probably like a do-over on. Micah was struggling to throw strikes and Herrera was forced to swing at another ball that would have put the count at 2-0. But the fortunate second out of the inning was followed by a routine grounder from Helton and a dangerous start to the inning was brought to an end with no damage done.
That may have been a key turning point in the game. In the bottom of the third Brandon Miranda and Micah both struck out but two consecutive hits to right by Willie Bloomquist and Xavier Nady brought Upton to the plate and his big night got underway. He laced a screaming line drive just over the glove of Helton into the corner and both runners scored to put the Dbacks up 2-0.
Micah had an easy fourth, (except for the 48th consecutive hit against the Dbacks by Ty Wigginton) and the Dbacks went back to work with the bats. Miguel Montero singled, Sean Burroughs (in for Geoff Blum who fractured his pinky) and Ryan Roberts flied out, and Juan Allen walked. Micah did what he likes doing best by hitting a sharp grounder up the middle to score Montero and a 3-0 lead. Owings had another solid inning in the 5th and his day was done as the entire dugout was appreciative of his effort. But a 3-0 lead in the 5th with the middle relief corps due to appear was hardly making Dbacks fans comfortable with the situation. So who do you call? Justin Upton!!
Xavier Nady (a late pre-game replacement for the dinged up Parra and batting second) singled to center and Upton proceeded to do something I'm not sure I've ever seen. He shattered his bat on a deep line drive fly ball off the wall in right field for a triple!! It's no wonder he leads the NL in "No Doubt Homers" with nine. Ubaldo (U Jerko) proceeded to plunk Young in the ribs in obvious frustration on the very next pitch. More Upton heroics followed when Burroughs grounded sharply to second with a drawn in infield. Herrera hesitated slightly on the throw home and Upton executed a beautiful slide while touching home plate just ahead of the diving Iannetta to make it 5-0 Dbacks. Roberts hit perhaps the hardest ball of the night right at Wigginton, who barely had time to get his glove up, and he snared it or the damage would have been worse. Brandon Miranda was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and even though Owings was done for the night as the pitcher he was left in to bat. The stage was set for a magical "coup de grace" but it was not be as Owings struck out after just missing a couple of fastballs earlier in the at bat.
Enter Zach Duke, and all the home faithful covered one eye in what was sure to be the beginning of a Rockies comeback. But credit to Duke as he sandwiched three routine grounders around a Tulo single. The end of the Rockies hopes for a comeback were extinguished in the bottom half of the 6th as Upton laced a chalk-flying double down the left field line after Nady was hit by a pitch. CY singled sharply to left to score Nady, and Miggy hit a grounder up the middle that looked destined for a run scoring single. But Herrera made a diving stop, flipped it to Tulo from his glove, and Tulo's pirouette throw to first just missed nailing Miggy for an inning ending double play. Upton scored on the play to make it 7-zip Dbacks. Had Miggy been called out (and it was very close), it might have made ESPN's Top 10 Web Gems for the year.
But it was the Dbacks night and three more smooth innings from Zach earned him his fist Major League save for a well-earned 7-0 victory. You just gotta love when a bad matchup turns into a fairly easy victory over a division rival. There were a boatload of scouts on hand who appeared to be scouting Jimenez with some of the rumors going around he is on the trading block. He did not exactly impress and maybe their attention was turned to some of the Dbacks. Not that Owings or Duke are on the block (we can only wish regarding Duke). But all in all it was a near perfectly-played game by the boys to cap the 10-game home stand at 6-4. Not a stellar stand but good enough to stay in the hunt. Now it's on the road for nine straight against SD, LA and SF. We'll probably all take a 6-4 road trip to match it. Mostly we look forward to seeing some more acts from the Justin Upton Show. It's a fun show and worth the price of admission.
The Good: Micah Owings (pitching+hitting) +31.5%, Justin Upton, +28.2%
The Mediocre: Sean Burroughs -0.6%
The Bad: Ryan Roberts, -4.4%
Not a bad day when your worst player is greater than -5%!
imstillhungry95 led all posters with 135 and soco earns the silver with 100 even. All present were imstillhungry95, Scottyyy, snakecharmer, justin1985, soco, Clefo, BulldogsNotZags, piratedan7, Rockkstarr12, txzona, NASCARbernet, xmet, emilylovesthedbacks, Dallas D'Back Fan, hotclaws, mrssoco, dbacks25, since_98, rfffr, Dan Strittmatter, kishi, shoewizard, JoeCB1991, YoungCardsFanatic, dback4life, Jim McLennan, SongBird, nateasaurus, SenSurround, oldspartan, and blank_38.
Comment of the Night goes to BulldogsNotZags after Micah's RBI single. Were it not for the Upton Show today might have been called the Micah Show!
Off day tomorrow as the team travels to California for a 10-game road trip up the coast: San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco coming up!