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Diamondbacks 4, Astros 2: Your FIRST-PLACE Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 29-24. Pace: 89-73. Change on last season: +9

NL West Standings

Arizona 29 24 .547 0 Won 6
San Francisco 28 24 .538 0.5 Lost 2
Colorado 25 26 .490 3 Won 1
Los Angeles 23 30 .433 6 Lost 1
San Diego 22 31 .415 7 Won 2

(updated 5.29.2011 at 2:07 PM MST)

In a format, suitable for framing... The Diamondbacks' sixth consecutive victory, combined with the Giants being shut-out by the Brewers mean that Arizona find themselves in possession of first place in the NL West. Now, it's a long, long season - more than 100 games left - but right now, it seems to be going pretty well, given most neutral bystanders had us projected in last place. It certainly won't be easy going forward, folks, make no mistake folks, yet... Well, it's going quite well, isn't it?

I missed the opening chunk of the game, as I was helping install a doggie-door in the garage for the SnakePitPets, but it doesn't look as though I missed too much. Arizona squandered an excellent change in the first, however, failing to take advantage of early wildness by Houston starter J.A. Happ, who walked three of the opening four Diamondbacks to load the bases with one out. However, Xavier Nady struck out and Juan Miranda followed suit, to so much groaning, I though the GDT had become a George Romero movie. Was it to be one of those games for Arizona? At least Josh Collmenter was throwing bullets, and both starters had no-hitters after three.

That changed in the bottom of the fourth. A double down the left-field line was followed by a single to put runners on the corners for Houston. Collmenter tried the old "fake to third" play, but home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn called a balk, for reasons known only to home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. He tapped his knee, but replays clearly showed that wasn't a problem. The go-ahead run trotted home, in echoes of Esmerling Vasquez's infamous balk-off in Dodger Stadium at the end of last May. Kirk Gibson came out to inquire about the reasons why, and promptly got tossed by Reyburn, though it only measured a 2 or 3 on the Gibson Ejection Richter Scale.

Also in the inning, a guy made a great play in the stands to catch a foul-ball, but crushed his young son in the process, and Josh Collmenter struggled to put away hitters, with a couple of double-digits at-bats. His pitch-count for the inning was at in the mid-thirties, but he escaped with only the one run. He did allow another run in the fifth, on a home-run by the pitcher, but we can't complain too much, the Diamondbacks having also scored on a balk and a pitcher bomb earlier in the series. Wonder when was the last time that happened? Collmenter's final line was another credible one: six innings of work, two runs on four hits and a walk, with five K's.

Arizona got on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Justin Upton tripled to right-center; the Astros' CF couldn't quite corral it, rolling up Half-wit Hill [named after the architect who thought putting that, and a freakin' flagpole in play in center-field made sense]. Chris Young brought him home with a sacrifice fly, to pull the Diamondbacks within one. Both teams sent three to the plate in the seventh, though in Arizona's case, that was partly because of an ill-advised hit and run involving Sean Burroughs (hit) and Henry Blanco (run). I repeat: Burroughs and Blanco. I'd blame Gibson, except he was sitting in the locker-room. For our bullpen, Aaron Heilman struck out the side in the seventh.

The eighth inning was pivotal, in both directions. After Willie Bloomquist struck out, Ryan Roberts singled and stole second as Upton struck out. The Astros fell behind Young 3-0, and decided to walk him, preferring to face Nady over Young, who hits .400 in this park. Nady yanked the "Redemption" card out of his back pocket, and cracked the ball down into the right-field corner, bringing Roberts home with the tying run. Despite a perfect relay throw, a hurtling Young just came across the plate in time, scoring all the way from first to give us the lead. An RBI single from Juan Miranda provided some welcome insurance.

David Hernandez posted a zero, but it wasn't without some trouble. He got the first man, then a walk and single put the tying run on base with one out. While a fielder's choice got the man going to second, Hernandez's next pitch sailed clear to the backstop. It was very fortunate that it caromed straight back to Blanco, so at least the runner on third couldn't score, even if his colleague on first did. The Astros were a single from tying it, but Hernandez broke out an 82 mph curveball for a swinging strikeout to end the threat. J.J. Putz had a 1-2-3 ninth [yawn...] and Arizona took over leadership of the division.

[Click to enlarge, at]
Wolverine: Xavier Nady, +42.2%
Magneto: Melvin Mora, -10.6%

IHateSouthBend cracked three figures, with txzona over the half-century mark and imstillhungry95 snatching third by a single post from hotclaws. Also taking parth this afternoon: dbacks25, kishi, Clefo, pygalgia, baltimor, Rockkstarr12, Backin'the'Backs, Gibbysdad, DeDxDbacKxJroK, Coach Cleats, Jdub220, marionette, 4 Corners Fan, emilylovesthedbacks, xmet, The Goat, NASCARbernet, Zavada's Moustache, BulldogsNotZags, Scottyyy, Prosopis, Jim McLennan, VladHammer, Aztiramtempe, BattleMoses and Turambar. Comment of the thread goes to Rockstarr12, who "amp"-ed things up with this one:

Now we're here, I hope the Diamondbacks stick around in first for a bit. The view's really nice, especially compared to having a face of Giant butt. Turnabout is fair play there, I think. Memorial Day tomorrow, so an early start, with first pitch scheduled for 5:10pm against the Marlins. They've been playing good baseball of late, so they'll be more of a challenge than the losing teams encountered on this road trip, but right now, there's no reason for Arizona to fear anyone. SnakeSounds to follow soon!