Record: 82-61. Pace: 93-69.
Change on last season: +25. Magic number: 13.
You know, by this point in most seasons, I can't wait to be done playing the Rockies. Maybe it's because we play them so often in Spring Training, maybe it's because we hear about them so much, maybe it's because of Troy Tulowitzki's stupid mullet. But this year? I don't know why, I don't mind seeing them so much.... Oh, right, it's because we've completely dominated them this year. But would we end the season series the way we started it? Only time would tell...The early innings were fairly uneventful, if a bit slow. Both teams put runners on in each inning- Gerardo Parra immediately thanked Gibby for his shot at batting leadoff by starting the game off with a double. But while the DBacks managed to get a runner in scoring position in the first and second innings, they couldn't manage to get around to score.
Maybe this was in the back of Aaron Hill's mind in the third inning. Hill reached on a one out single, and when Justin Upton singled to left, Hill decided second base wasn't far enough, and went for third. Unfortunately, third base was a little too far, and Aaron Hill was out easily on a good throw from Seth Smith. Even worse? Every runner is in scoring position when Miguel Montero decides to go long. Miggy took a pitch from Kevin Millwood deep to center field and put the Diamondbacks up 2-0, but we couldn't help but wonder if we'd miss the extra run that Hill represented.
And then Kevin Millwood hit a home run.
Yeah, it a weird moment for all of us. Millwood hit a home run, and then a couple of outs later, Carlos Gonzalez decided to do it, too- though CarGo certainly took more time admiring his shot- and we were tied up, 2-2. Then in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Wilin Rosario hit his first career home run in the majors to give the Rockies a 3-2 lead, we were definitely wishing Hill hadn't been thrown out.
Meanwhile, either Millwood had decided he was going to be a good pitcher, or the Diamondbacks had forgotten their bats. Until the sixth inning, when normal service returned. Paul Goldschmidt started the inning off with a single. Two quick outs made it look like we might strand another runner, but John McDonald handled that. A double to left brought Goldschmidt in to score and tied up the game. Then, with a pinch hitt- wait, no, Joe Saunders to bat for himself? Go ahead run on second? Well, while we might have wondered, Saunders validated our faith in GibbyBall and lined a single to left, bringing McDonald in to give the DBacks a 4-3 lead. Millwood was done for the night, and while Saunders was stranded, we went into the bottom of the sixth with a lead.
And then Saunders gave up a single to Troy Tulowitzki and a walk to Ty Wigginton to start the second. And we immediately began to wonder if we shouldn't have pulled him for a pinch hitter. But, lo, do not doubt Joe Saunders- a pop up, a swinging K, and a fly out to center later, and Joe Saunders was out of trouble. No worries.
Justin Upton drove another nail into the Rockies hopes with a leadoff home run in the seventh inning, stretching the lead to 5-3. The Rockies will be glad to not have to face J-Up anymore this season- if my math is right, Upton's hit a ridiculous .403/.493/.821 against the Rockies this year. Yeah, that's a 1.314 OPS. And you wonder why Rockies fans don't like him.
The Diamondbacks had chances to add on after that- a Sean Burroughs double in the eighth went to waste, as did back-to-back defensive blunders by TuLOLwitzki. But the Diamondbacks bullpen returned to their regular excellent 2011 service, and the Rockies just couldn't manage to score against them. Colorado put runners on second in the seventh and ninth innings, but Bryan Shaw, David Hernandez, and J.J. Putz didn't let them get any further than that, and with a fly out to center by Dexter Fowler, the Diamondbacks closed out the game and finished the season series on a strong performance.
Joe Saunders earned win #10, and while his performance wasn't dominating, it was good enough- a very tight-rope sort of performance, and at least his three home runs were all solo shots. Putz earned his 37th save this year. In the standings, losses by both the Giants and the Brewers mean the DBacks were able to take full advantage of the win- the magic number in the NL West drops to 13, and we move only 2.5 back from Brewers in the NL playoff rankings. Not too shabby for one (surprisingly long) game's work.
Justice League International: Miguel Montero (+13.8%)
Justice League Task Force: J.J. Putz (+11.2%), David Hernandez (+10.5%), John McDonald (+9.1%)
Justice League Ontario: Aaron Hill (-12.1%)
Busy comment thread today, heading towards 1300 comments as we saw the final out. imstillhungry95 led teh pack, with DBacksSkins making his return to the threads and hitting triple digits. snakecharmer took third, and then the rest of us: DeDxDbacKxJroK, Clefo, Jim McLennan, Rockkstarr12, SenSurround, NASCARbernet, Stile4aly, emilylovesthedbacks, Gildo, since_98, blue bulldog, BulldogsNotZags, SongBird, AZDBACKR, asteroid, Muu, freeland1787, kishi, hotclaws, The so-called Beautiful, txzona, Bryn21, Stupendous Man, Brian MacKinney, VouxCroux, Zavada's Moustache, Backin'the'Backs, porty99, TinySarabia, Dallas D'Back Fan, 4 Corners Fan, UofAZGrad, mrssoco, Augdogs, BattleMoses, Husk, and nateasaurus.
The most rec'd comment was a repeat, so instead, I'll award today's CotD to this one:
I think we can all agree with that.
Diamondbacks head home tomorrow to start their series with the Padres, with the 2001 World Series reunion festivities taking place this weekend. Ian Kennedy will take the mound tomorrow and go for win #19. Looks like we're in a great place to chop that magic number down even further...