Another week for Arizona with only one defeat, and this one expanded their margin significantly at the top of the division. With 22 games left, they are seven clear of San Francisco, who might be struggling to fend off the Dodgers if both teams play the way they have of late. While cautious, I think we can safely describe this week's panel as a satisfied one, as we discuss the Giants' series, Justin Upton's ejection, which D-back should be on a stamp, and the upcoming schedule. Guest contributor Jdub220 joins up: upcoming weeks will see DeDxDbacKxJroK, JoeStock and CaptainCanuck follow suit.
To update a question from last week. The Giants now sit seven back, with only three games against Arizona remaining. Are they, realistically, done?
Kishi: Woooooooooooooooh! Ahem, sorry. I won’t be comfortable until they’re mathematically eliminated, but I certainly feel a lot more comfortable than I did 24 hours ago. Unless the Giants get really hot in the next week, they probably don’t have a shot. Hey, Padres- remember how the Giants just beat you out last year? Well, you play six of their next nine, you can certainly put a dagger in their back here...
shoe: Yes. That was "The Pine Box Series" , and the D Backs put the Giants in it. They are done.
Jdub220: I hate to celebrate early, but yeah, pretty much. It would take a miracle for them to come back, a total collapse from us and a huge hot streak for the Giants. Don’t see it.
snakecharmer: To quote Pirates: Barbossa: "That’s impossible!" Jack Sparrow: "Not probable." Realistically, yesssssssssssssssss, year’s over for them. The fans kept saying to me, "Hey, it could happen! The Giants did it last year!!" I kept pointing out that we were NOT San Diego. I’d say, the Giants are definitely emotionally out of it, and they need Arizona to go on a prolonged losing streak to help them. It could happen, but I think the NL West is ours.
Jim: It’s really hard to see a way back for them, but I don’t think my brain will really accept we’re going to the playoffs until that magic number is zero. Right now, however, that seems only like a matter of time. It would take a monumental reversal in fortunes for this not to be Arizona’s title.
soco: I’ve already fired up my makeshift shirt printer for my "2011 ARIZONA DINOMANDBACKS DIVISION WIENERS" shirts.
ZM: Teams have blown seven-game leads in less time than the Diamondbacks have now, but it doesn’t happen often. They took a huge step forward over the weekend, and now the race is over unless the Diamondbacks do something to change that. Namely, lose a bunch of games.
The team finished a sweep of the Rockies, then went in to San Francisco, and took two of three. What impressed you most about the team’s performance?
Kishi: Not getting rattled by the loss on Friday. I think this team has really done an amazing job not getting caught up in the pressure of this season.
shoe: The pitching. It has been unbelievable.
Jdub220: Like Kishi, I like the mental toughness. When a team on a winning streak loses a big game, some teams sink. We got to Lincecum in the first game and their bullpen in the second, while Kennedy and Hudson took care of their business.
snakecharmer: Staying steady in every possible way. They didn’t get rattled after Friday’s loss. Kennedy was amped Saturday and struggled early, but he settled down. And then, coming back against Vogelsong. Last year, a 1-0 deficit was a challenge for the team, and it could’ve gotten bad after JUp was tossed, but they didn’t let it get to them. Ryan provided the spark, and Parra, Blum, Bloomquist and Hill took it from there. This was a crucial series and they knew it but they didn’t panic.
emily: The fact that they didn’t lose their cool after that terrible loss on Friday. That, combined with the stellar pitching...wow. This team.
soco: Taco time? I don’t know, it was overall impressive. The sweep was nice, winning in San Francisco was great, but it wasn’t like every game was a complete victory. They needed a late game rally yesterday, and also had a couple defensive miscues. Still plenty of room to work.
Jim: The pitching continues to amaze. In the past 14 games, we have allowed one run or none at all, eight times, and only once more than four. But as others have stated, the lack of panic yesterday was impressive, even as the outs ran down, our MVP was in the clubhouse and Vogelsong was throwing a gem.
ZM: I was impressed by the fact that they went 11-1 over a span where they desperately needed to put some space between themselves and the Giants. Isn’t that enough?
And any areas that could have used improvement?
Kishi: Well... Getting more hits would be great. But they’re scoring runs when they need to, and the pitching is doing what they need to to stay in the game. When you’re 11-1 over your past twelve games, it’s a little difficult to criticise too much.
shoe: Uh....as per usual, the base-running mistakes have cost us a few extra outs and runs. But at this point it feels like quibbling.
Jdub220: We are 5th in baseball at getting extra base hits. Quit making outs on the bases.
snakecharmer: STOP HITTING THE BALL TO INFIELDERS. Um. Sorry. Left over frustration. Yeah, so getting it OVER the infielders (and outfielders’) heads tends to help. … That’s pretty much all I can think of, so that’s not bad.
emily: Willie Bloomquist needs to STOP RUNNING.
soco: It’s just a continued problem with the fundamentals. Making out on the basepaths, making errors, et cetera. But they’ve been able to overcome it with timely hitting and great pitching, for the most part.
Jim: Well, they did lose one game in the last 12, so we clearly need to stop that kind of thing right now. :-) However, that defeat did show our vulnerabilities: while you’ll get away with that kind of sloppy play occasionally in a 162-game season, I don’t think we can afford it in the post-season. Everyone on the team needs to be at 110% if we’re to knock off the Phillies, Braves or Brewers.
ZM: Well, I guess they could have gone 12-0, but I feel like I’m being a bit demanding if I ask for that.
The rosters expanded, with Arizona mostly pulling up some bullpen arms, along with Geoff Blum and Robby Hammock. Did you want to see our better prospects like Trevor Bauer?
Kishi: Personally, I’m okay either way. If they want to let Bauer and the other top tier prospects focus on the minor league playoffs, I’m fine with that. On the other hand, if they want to bring them up and let them get some time in the clubhouse, see what the team is like? I’d be okay with that, too. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on the new guys, when the team already seems to be running well.
shoe: No, I was not in the camp that wanted to see Bauer called up. I do not believe he is emotionally ready for the major leagues, regardless of his stuff. On the other hand, I DID want to see Tyler Skaggs called up to be our David Price for this post season. It could still happen if he takes a DL spot.
Jdub220: At first, I wanted us to get him the the majors this year to help us down the stretch, but it doesn’t look like we need him anymore. And now, I’m starting to get more worried about his innings count. Next year, Mr. Bauer.
snakecharmer: I don’t think we need to call up Bauer. I don’t want to press his innings work, I don’t want the opposing hitters to see much of him (since we face mainly the NL West). But if they call him up to get him a feel for the major league clubhouse and pennant race and to start learning, I’d be okay with that.
emily: Honestly, I’m okay if we don’t see Bauer this year. I don’t see any reason to stretch him if we’re going to need him next year (and if we keep this core, we’ll need him next year)
Jim: We don’t need them, certainly. But I wouldn’t mind then being here, just to get a flavor of the clubhouse culture and the majors, get their feet a bit wet in low-pressure situations.
ZM: If we were out of the playoff race, or scuffling to keep pace, then I would have wanted to get Bauer and possibly Parker up to have them get a taste of the big leagues. But with the way the team is rolling right now, they don’t really need either of them, so why take the risk?
Justin Upton got himself tossed from Sunday’s game, the first ejection in his career. Did you like seeing the fire and passion or did you think it was a pointless tantrum?
shoe: In this case he had such a legit point, and the ump really was completely out of line with the way he was calling balls and strikes. Notice the nonsense with the balls and strikes mostly stopped after that ? So no, not a pointless tantrum. I, on the other hand, did have a pointless tantrum when it was going down.
Jdub220: That call was turrable, and I’m okay with his reaction. Wish he wouldn’t have gotten thrown out though.
snakecharmer: It was a weird zone all weekend, on both sides, and he definitely had some beef with the zone that at-bat. I don’t mind him getting fired up and getting thrown out, but I’m afraid that charging the mound might cause him a game of suspension.
soco: The jumping might have been a little much, but I don’t blame the guy. He’s FIERY.
Jim: A bit of both. The umpire’s strike-zone was inconsistent and did not follow the rules, so Upton certainly had a point. But getting yourself tossed from a potentially-crucial game doesn’t help your team.
soco: dbacks.com has an article up now with Upton saying the right things. I believe him, it was a heat of the moment thing, it doesn’t mean anything more, and it doesn’t mean that Upton hates umps, or the other way around. Hopefully we’ll all be able to move on from this.
ZM: I didn’t get to see the game, but from the write-up it sounded like he had a legitimate beef with the umpire, so I have no problem with it. If he gets himself thrown out of an elimination game in the playoffs, on the other hand...
Ted Williams was honored by the postal service this week. Which D-back would you like to see on a stamp, and why?
Kishi: Well, there are some obvious choices here- Randy Johnson is probably the big one. But, in honor of some of the pick-off moves we saw Jon Garland make to first base, I’d love to see him on an airmail stamp...
soco: Ho ho ho, kishi! I see what you did there!
shoe: Justin Upton. As great as Randy was for us, it wasn't long enough. Same for Gonzo. I would like to see Upton have a 21 year career with the D Backs and never play for anyone else. That type of longevity, especially with one team, coupled with a Hall of Fame career and a clean track record off the field. That’s something that is stamp worthy. I hope Justin gets there someday.
Jdub220: Upton. Simply put, he’s our guy. The Franchise.
snakecharmer: Um..... if it has to be a dead guy, I’d rather not think about that....
soco: Brandon Webb after he wins a fishing championship.
Jim: Out of a spirit of charity, I’d nominate Tim Lincecum. Except, we’ve already licked him more than enough this year... Hohoho. For now, I’d like to see one depicting Luis Gonzalez skipping to first-base from 2001; it’s still our most glorious moment. Hopefully, something between now and November will eclipse it.
ZM: As ‘charmer noted, one of the criteria for appearing on postage in the United States is that you must be dead. So in that case, I feel a bit morbid about speculating...
Jim: Alcor would like a word with you about that...
The road-trip continues in Colorado, then it’s back to Phoenix for three against the Padres. Predictions, please.
Kishi: I’ll stick with 4-2. But I’ll quietly hope for better.
shoe: I predict that whatever I predict will be wrong. So here goes. Rockies take 2 of 3.
Jdub220: Rockies take one, we take the rest against them and sweep the Padres. We cruise to the finish.
snakecharmer: Maybe a slight letdown in Colorado, plus better offense there than SF. Again I will say, 3-3 would not be great, and it should be at least 4-2.
soco: 7-0, baby. 7-0.
Jim: 3-3. Bit of an emotional letdown, but the lead won’t shrink, as the Giants will do no better in San Diego and against the Dodgers.
ZM: The way the team is rolling now, 4-2 seems like a reasonable goal.