Preview, Game #133: Diamondbacks vs. Giants

Ezra Shaw

San Francisco come to town. Seem like a while? That's because it was. June 9 was the last time they played here, and they were 1.5 games back. But since then, the Giants have gone 26-45 and plummeted out of contention.

sfg_medium

Tim Lincecum
RHP, 7-13, 4.55
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Randall Delgado
RHP, 4-4, 3.87

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. Gerardo Parra, RF
  2. Adam Eaton, LF
  3. Martin Prado, 2B
  4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  5. Aaron Hill, 2B
  6. Miguel Montero, C
  7. A.J. Pollock, CF
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS
  9. Randall Delgado, P

It's interesting to me that, since the last baseball strike killed the 1994 season, only three teams have managed to repeat at National League West champions: the D-backs in 2001-02, the Padres in 2005-06 and the Dodgers in 2008-09. And, in a lot of cases, it's not just that they haven't managed to defend the crown, but that they have fallen off quite spectacularly. Here's a list showing the results since the division became a five-team race [albeit with the Rockies apparently occupying the "Mark Grace" spot!]

Year Champion Next season
1998 Padres 4th, 26 back
1999 D-backs 3rd, 12 back
2000 Giants
2nd, 2 back
2001 D-backs Repeated
2002 D-backs 3rd, 16.5 back
2003 Giants 2nd, 2 back
2004 Dodgers 4th, 11 back
2005 Padres repeated
2006 Padres 3rd, 1.5 back
2007 D-backs 2nd, 2 back
2008 Dodgers repeated
2009 Dodgers 4th, 12 back
2010 Giants 2nd, 8 back
2011 D-backs 3rd, 13 back
2012 Giants 5th, 19 back

Obviously, this year's numbers are "so far," but San Francisco is currently on pace to become the first NL West since we joined the division, to go from the penthouse to the cellar in a single season. Since the last repeat, in 2007-8, the fall-off has become increasingly steep, with champions finishing an average of 13 games out the following year. The Giants are doing very little to buck the trend, their once-feared pitching rotation melting down to such a degree that the team is dead-last in the National League, with an 81 ERA+. Just three years ago - with a rotation also then featuring Cain, Zito, Lincecum and Bumgarner - the Giants were #1, at 117.

We may have been mediocre here in Arizona, little better than last year, but personally, it has been one of this season's pleasures, watching San Francisco fall apart. Just a shame they didn't lock Lincecum up to a long-term deal before his pitching talent turned into a puff of (oddly-scented) smoke. Of course, as with any former Cy Young winner, there's always a fear that tonight is going to be the night where they suddenly rediscover the skills that made them so feared - and, really, there weren't many better pitchers in the league over 2008-09. But, counterpoint: Paul Goldschmidt, who has been Timmeh's kryptonite. Sure Goldzilla has had this series circled for a while!

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