Record: 78-77. Pace: 82-80. Change on last season: -10
Elimination number: 5. Playoff odds: better than they were, at 7.0%
Arizona pounded Colorado for nineteen hits, their most in a regulation game for over five years, and rolled to an easy victory, their sixth in seven games. Combined with the Giants' defeat of the Dodgers, this reduced LA's margin at the top to 2.5 games: if the Diamondbacks can win tomorrow, behind Webb, and cut it to two games [LA aren't playing], things could start to get interesting for the final stretch.
Every Arizona starter had a hit, with most seizing the chance to tee off, first against Greg Reynolds, the Rockies' starter who got bombed from just about his first pitch, and was lifted after four outs, then a procession of mop-up men, all of whom had ERAs north of five. Slots #1-4 in the D-backs order combined for eleven his, nine runs and eight RBI, while Dan Haren chipped in with his first career three-knock game at the plate, and allowed only Atkins' three-run homer over six innings of work, running his record to 16-8.
Arizona started as they meant to go on, sending ten to the plate in the first inning, scoring five runs on six hits and a walk: Dunn had a two-run double, while there were also RBI for Young, Reynolds and Haren. CY made is 6-0 with his 20th homer of the season, leading off the second and Dunn drove in his third run with a single in the fourth. After the Rockies briefly threatened to make a game of it, coming within grand-slam distance - always a concern at Pinball Field - the Diamondbacks responded immediately. They scored four more in the fifth on a bases-loaded triple by Young and a single by Jackson, effectively driving a stake through Colorado's heart.
From there on, we did slacken off a bit - unsurprisingly, having batted 15-for-26 to that point. The main point of interest the rest of the way was seeing whether Young could get the double he needed in order to become the second Arizona player to hit for the cycle this month. However, he walked in the seventh and lined-out to third in the ninth. Josh Whitesell, pinch-hitting for the Petit Unit, did get the first homer of his major-league career with two outs in the ninth. Jackson finished with four hits; Young had three and a walk; Haren three hits; Drew and Dunn two hits and a walk. The last time the Diamondbacks had nineteen hits without going into extra innings was June 24, 2003, when they beat Houston 12-5.
Meanwhile, Reynolds struck out twice, moving him to second on the all-time list with 196 - he needs four in the last seven games to set a new record. Ryan Howard went whiffless for the Phillies, so remained stuck on 194. Reynolds did commit another error, giving him 32 on the season. But on the K front, an interesting set of comments - tying in with our piece on Reynolds during the week - from Bob Melvin, which run counter, to a certain degree, what Mark himself said about the matter, and corrective action that may or may not be needed:
That’s something he’s going to have to work on next spring. Any player over the course of their career tries to get better, tries to work on their deficiencies and that’s something he’s going to have to work on. But over the course of the season and what he’s doing right now, you don’t want to make major changes right now because he still is a production guy.
Haren was solid on the mound, except for the one mistake when Atkins deposited a cutter over the middle into the Coors Field bleachers. He scattered seven hits in six innings, and didn't walk anyone. From there, the B-bullpen of Rosales, Petit and Buckner finished things off, with the only score an unearned run on Rosales, thanks to the error by Reynolds. The Diamondbacks benefited from three errors by the Rockies, which resulted in two unearned runs, though in the larger scheme of things, they didn't really matter too much.
That's the kind of graph I like to see on the road: WP at 85.6% by the middle of the first inning, and reaching 98.4% by the middle of the fifth. The only other Diamondback besides Tracy in negative territory was Augie Ojeda at -0.5%, and Dan Haren contributed more at the plate (+7.8%) than he did on the mound (+2.4%). Thanks to those who commented in the Gameday Thread: in particular, welcome to yaho, representing the AZ fans in Venezuela [along with Muu in Brazil, that's at least two in South America!]. Thanks also to Azreous, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, kishi, TwinnerA, Scrbl, Diamondhacks, Zephon, hotclaws, Gravity, 4 Corners Fan, unnamedDBacksfan and oldjacket.
As noted, the Dodgers lost, which certainly helped. The odds are still massively in their favor, it has to be admitted, but if Arizona can keep winning, the pressure will be mounting on Los Angeles - the weight of expectation is massively on their shoulders at this point. They have Monday off, then play San Diego for three in LA, and finish the season in San Francisco for three. We have four games in St. Louis, then return to Chase for our final series, against these self same Rockies. It's out of Arizona's hands at this point, however: we just have to post the W's and hope that the Padres or Giants will do us some favors. Yes: we'll be cheering enthusiastically for San Diego and San Francisco this week. Might take a bit of getting used to that... :-)
And with that, off to watch the last game in the old Yankee Stadium. No matter what you may feel about the franchise, there's no denying the place that their park has in baseball lore. May it be a hundred years before they win a World Series in the new stadium, of course!