Record: 18-28. Pace: 63-99. Change on 2013/2010/2004: -8/-2/+1 [Yes, we've overtaken 2004!]
It is the 18th of May, closing in on Memorial Day, and the Diamondbacks had still not won a home series all season. The Dodgers had proven an unsolvable enigma, save the 18-7 shellacking last night. The only things Arizona had to cling to were the hiring of Tony La Russa to run the front office and the fact that only two semi-regular position players are now hitting below .250. You can say that Tony La Russa is our savior and turned it around, or you can say the glorious weekend of the Gerardo Parra Bobblehead giveaway gave us the Mystical Power of Grit. Anyone who knows me is well aware which of those options I will be promoting. Either way, it amounted to the slaying of that proverbial dragon and the first home series win of the year. Something we can all celebrate.
The game saw Josh Collmenter facing off against former Diamondback Dan Haren. (I love you, Danny-boy, even if you are a hated Dodger.) Haren has seen a renaissance of sorts since landing in L.A., and Josh still tends to flag in the early innings...or was it the late innings? Depends on the week, I guess. Either way, there was a real possibility that Arizona would give up as many as they could score.
The opening inning was especially worrisome in that regard. After getting Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig out, Collmenter decided to hang a breaking ball, which Hanley Ramirez rudely deposited in the seats for the 1-0 Dodgers lead. Josh got it back together to get Adrian Gonzalez to fly out. It was only one run, but I was not feeling good about getting to recap my first Diamondbacks win of the season. If I'm going to write about the damned Dodgers every month, I at least wanted to write about a win.
Parra did a decent job of seeing some pitches, hitting his usual grounder to the right side of the infield on the fifth pitch of the home half. Chris Owings followed that with an infield single, suggesting we might get that run back. Alas, Paul Goldschmidt would fly out to center, and Miguel Montero would strike out to put an end to that thought.
The top of the second was fairly uneventful, save for Collmenter attempting to stop a batted ball with his pitching hand. Fortunately, it was all good, as there was no injury and Owings was able to throw the deflected ball on to first to put Drew Butera out. The bottom half of the inning was more exciting. First, Gordon climbed the ladder to take a hit away from Martin Prado. Then, we got the silliness of Puig misreading a fly off the bat of Cody Ross, allowing Ross to double. Then, A.J. Pollock was the recipient of Juan Uribe's inability to get the ball out of his glove. This brought Cliff Pennington up with one out and two on. He would try to hit the double play ball, but Pollock went hard into second, prompting Ramirez to throw it away. The E6 let Ross score to even it up. Collmenter did the expected, tapping back to the mound for the final out. But at least there was hope!
Well, there was hope until the top of the third, anyway. Gordon's ground out to second was followed by Puig's tapper to third. With two out, Ramirez drew the walk. Gonzalez did his thing, hitting a two-run homer in the next at-bat. When Andre Ethier made the third out, it was 3-1 in favor of the hated Dodger Blue.
The D'Backs weren't going down easily, though. Parra led off the next inning with a single. A passed ball during Owings' at-bat allowed Parra to move up to second. That would be important when Owings singled to center, scoring Parra and pulling Arizona to within one. Goldschmidt, Montero and Prado could do no more damage in the third.
Collmenter came back out for a one-two-three fourth. His teammates gave him some more help in the form of a Ross home run to tie it up again. There was a possibility of a fourth run when Josh hit the ball to Haren. Haren deflected the ball to Gordon, but Pollock, who stood on third, hesitated to score. I am still not entirely sure if he should have tried. At the time, I was a little annoyed that he looked so confused about what to do. Parra would end the inning by chasing strike three, but it was nice to not be losing anymore.
Eric Chavez came in to replace Prado in the fifth, for reasons that were not entirely clear. Whatever the reasons, he would immediately prove his worth by hitting a two-run homer to end the day's scoring. Addison Reed came in to get the save in the ninth, with the only blemish being a single given up to someone named Scott Van Slyke. I hear he plays for the Dodgers, but I'm not really sure.
At long last, the team was able to celebrate both a home game win and a home series win. I will still be astonished if they end up at .500, but it was so much more enjoyable to see a team that isn't just getting clobbered. They are actually doing some clobbering, and slowly improving personal and team numbers. I can totally live with that. It's almost as good as watching the ball sail over the head of Yasiel Puig.
Bells and whistles
[Click to enlarge, at fangraphs.com]
Gojira: Eric Chavez, +24.5%
Mothra: Owings, +18.8%; Ross, +18.2%; Pollock, +11.4%
Godzilla (1998): Paul Goldschmidt, -12.1%
Godzuki: Josh Collmenter, -10.0%
A well-spread comment section, led by AzDbackfanInDc, ahead of JoeCB1991, with hotclaws and benhat tied for this. Also present: 4 Corners Fan, Clefo, DeadmanG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jim McLennan, MrMrrbi, PR151, Rockkstarr12, SebSwo, SongBird, azshadowwalker, blank_38, onedotfive, preston.salisbury and rfffr.
We get a well-earned rest tomorrow, and the team heads east again, for three-game sets first against the Cardinals, then the Mets, beginning on Tuesday in St. Louis.