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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #17: Jacks the Giant Killers

We've hit three home-runs this series - less than in the final game at Petco - but all of them have been very important.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Shelby Miller
RHP, 0-1, 8.53
San Francisco logo
Johnny Cueto
RHP, 3-0, 3.38
Jean Segura - SS Denard Span - CF
Jake Lamb - 3B Joe Panik - 2B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Hunter Pence - RF
David Peralta - RF Brandon Belt - 1B
Yasmany Tomas - LF Brandon Crawford - SS
Phil Gosselin - 2B Angel Pagan - LF
Chris Owings - CF Matt Duffy - 3B
Chris Herrmann - C Trevor Brown - C
Shelby Miller - RHP Johnny Cueto - RHP

Indeed, those three at-bats alone were worth a total of 77% of Win Probability added, and include the second- and fifth-biggest plays of the season so far for the Diamondbacks, by WP.  The former was Lamb's game-tying home-run in the opening contest, when Arizona were down to their final strike, and the latter was Welington Castillo's shot last night, breaking the scoreless tie in the seventh inning. If the Diamondbacks' season goes anywhere - and we're not even 10% of the way through the campaign at this point, I think we may look back on those two plate appearances as massively significant.

It's certainly startling what a difference can be seen in both the team and fan attitude, as discussed in today's Snake Bytes. The first series win over the Padres provided a sign of hope, even if we probably wanted to sweep that set. But going into AT&T Park, and taking the first three games from a side predicted by many to win the division, is a genuine achievement. Our pitching staff has posted a 2.48 ERA, and our starters in the last two games have allowed one run over 12.2 innings, with a K:BB ratio of 15:3. That's what we wanted - indeed, expected - to see from our rotation this year, and was largely what hadn't shown up over the first week.

Can we finish the job? Much will depend on Miller, and his ability to deliver a solid start after a bizarre outing last time where he whacked his knuckles on the ground, while throwing to the opposing pitcher. I'm hoping that was some bizarre result of the Petco mound - it certainly doesn't appear to be a regular part of Miller's repertoire, as far as I've been able to find. Solid starts from Ray and Greinke now result in the torch being passed, and fingers crossed (some way off the ground too, please) that Shelby will follow suit. But, regardless, with 10 games left in April, the quest to finish the month at or above .500 is a great deal more achievable than it was.