Win or lose this has been an exciting series. The Arizona Diamondbacks are playing meaningful baseball in the second half of the season exceeding most expectations. Although the team was unable to pull off a comeback victory last night, they refused to go down quietly against one of the top teams in the Senior Circuit. Today’s rubber match pans out to be just as exciting on paper as Robbie Ray (9-4, 2.97 ERA) goes toe to toe with Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.31 ERA).
Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 3
[D’backs.com] D-backs' rally falls short in Banda's debut - Anthony Banda did not disappoint in his first MLB start against one of the best offenses in the league. In the first 5 2⁄3 innings of his Major League career, he allowed 7 hits and 4 earned runs on 5 strikeouts. He made the mistake of throwing a breaking ball low and inside to one of the premier left handed bats in the league in the form of Bryce Harper who promptly took Banda yard to begin the game. Anthony settled in nicely from that point forward not allowing another run until his eventual exit in the 6th inning. Chris Herrmann struggled to field a ball in the left field corner that inning which ultimately led to the end of Banda’s night. Nothing to be ashamed of for the young kid.
"We had pretty good at-bats," [Bryce] Harper said. "That's a young guy [Banda] out there that throws the ball really hard, has good stuff, has good command. He's going to be really good in the next couple years for sure. So just we got him this time and got a few runs up there and won the ballgame."
[Arizona Sports] D-backs come up short in Banda’s debut - The return of A.J. Pollock is integral to the late season success of this team. Since July 15th, he is 11 for 27 (.407 AVG) with 6 XBH and only 1 strikeout to pair with his outstanding defense. He was responsible for the Diamondbacks first inning response scoring from first on a Chris Iannetta double following up on his 9th inning heroics the evening prior. Even though I may cringe watching him blaze around the bases or lay out for a catch, he is thrilling to have on the field once again.
[ESPN] Harper's 2 RBIs help Nats beat Diamondbacks 4-3 - The crowd was very much involved in the game as Paul Goldschmidt came in to pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th with runners on the corners. He nearly provided another walkoff victory for the team as he launched an 0-2 pitch into the 3rd deck, but it was pulled too hard unfortunately. I was not opposed to his approach at the plate in that situation, but I was hoping to see him line an XBH into the gap and keep the inning going rather than swing for the fences. A slight adjustment on his timing and he surely would have ended the game in victory. For the month of July, his Hard% has dropped to 34.3 %, his GB% has spiked to 60 %, and his K% is 30.3 %. This is my attempt to curse him into going on a tear.
[Arizona Sports] D-backs sign five international players, including two highly-ranked - One cost effective method Mike Hazen can utilize to build on the long term outlook of the team is through international free agency. The signing tracker by team can be found here. Being that a majority of the players are teenagers, it will take a significant amount of time before any of them potentially contribute for the parent club. Most may not even make any impact at all. #9 prospect and recent signee Kristian Robinson’s father, Tom Robinson, was an Olympian which speaks to his pedigree if anything.
[Fanrag] Anthony Banda gives Diamondbacks intriguing option down the stretch - I had been waiting to watch this young man in a meaningful game all season. I had no idea it would come this soon or in a playoff type atmosphere against the Nationals. Banda’s performance yesterday ensures that we will see him in the Majors again this season surely once the rosters expand. Keep it in perspective that the 23 year old did not derail against a potent offense after a first inning home run against one of the best players in the league.
“Anthony Banda had a tremendous outing against a very offensive team,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I thought he was making pitches, doing his job, being consistent with his execution allowing us to stay in the game. It speaks volumes about what he believes in, which is himself and his stuff. He wasn’t backing down. You can tell by the swagger and the walk that he believes in himself, and that’s what it takes to be successful.”
[Venom Strikes] Ramos on the radar screen - The bullpen remains one of the glaring areas of need especially considering Randall Delgado’s injury which naturally ties the Diamondbacks to some of the arms rumored to be on the market. A.J. Ramos recorded 40 saves in 67 appearances with a 2.81 ERA.
[Fox 10] Diamondbacks unveil urban garden at Chase Field - Perhaps we should attempt to grow green grass inside Chase Field prior to attempting a more difficult endeavor outside of the stadium?
[Associated Press] Father and son spend decade following Diamondbacks - What many fail to realize is that you can attempt to change the game to make it exciting for younger generations, but on a fundamental level the game is about a tradition that is passed on from one person to the next. Browsing through the “Why am I a fan” series the common theme among them was that the writer either introduced the love of the game to another or that person fell in love by through another person’s mentorship.
“When I think about the day that I pass, they’re going to say, ‘Well what was your legacy? What have you left behind?’” Frank said. “It’s about, ‘You left the love of baseball into so many of your family members.’”
Around the League
[Bleacher Report] MLB Trade Rumors: Potential Deals to Watch for Heading into 2017 Deadline - The hot stove has already been scorching hot so far and could continue to be so before the non-waiver deadline on July 31st. Yu Darvish is in the final season of his contract, and if the Rangers continue to struggle he could be on the move to a contender. The Detroit Tigers may look to move another rental bat in Ian Kinsler, although he does have a club option next year for $10 million. Better luck on the return this time around, Al.
As Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo says, “The current player sees these umpires as middle-ground statues that have less and less relevance to the game.” Before West’s 5,000th game, Arizona coach Jerry Narron asked Lovullo to pass along a message with his lineup card: “Tell Joe I said hi, because I think I’m the only guy that really likes him.” But when Lovullo got to home plate, West asked him, “How’s your mother doing?” Lovullo’s father, Sam, died in January. So there is another only for the list: West is the only umpire to ask Torey Lovullo about his mom.
[FiveThirtyEight] Baseball’s Best Teams Are Too Damn Good - This piece makes a great argument in that the top teams in the league, the Dodgers and the Astros, are so dominant that making a huge splash on the trade market in attempt to chase them down may be futile. This is why the trade for J.D. Martinez and the prospects given up by Arizona was a great move because little value was surrendered, but it made an already dangerous Arizona lineup more threatening to any wild card challengers.