|ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS||ATLANTA BRAVES|
|Jon Jay - RF||Ozzie Albies - 2B|
|Paul Goldschmidt - 1B||Ronald Acuna - CF|
|David Peralta - LF||Freddie Freeman - 1B|
|A.J. Pollock - CF||Nick Markakis - RF|
|Jake Lamb - 3B||Kurt Suzuki - C|
|Ketel Marte - SS||Charlie Culberson - LF|
|Daniel Descalso - 2B||Johan Camargo - 3B|
|Alex Avila - C||Dansby Swanson - SS|
|Patrick Corbin - LHP||Julio Teheran - RHP|
The final game of the first half - though, this year, it’s actually rather more, with basically 60% of the D-backs’ games coming before the break. The Dodgers’ loss last night allowed the Diamondbacks to recapture first place in the NL West. So a win today would allow them to retain that position, and enjoy the days off (offer not applicable to Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke) from a lofty position on top of the division. It has been a while since that has been the case. Arizona has not been in first place at the break since 2013, when they were 2.5 games up. We all know how that ended, so it’s a good reminder there is still work to be done.
Still, all told, you can’t complain about the team occupying a playoff spot to this point, especially considering some of the problems they’ve had to deal with: losing Taijuan Walker for the year, Shelby Miller’s return being brief and disastrous, A.J. Pollock, Steven Souza and Jake Lamb missing significant chunks of time, and the apparent replacement of Goldschmidt with a limp noodle for a month (though he has been making up for lost time since!). If you’d laid out those bullet points on some pre-season Tarot cards, I would have been extremely surprised if you’d told me that we’d still be, very much, in the hunt at the All-Star break.
But it would be nice to finish the first half on a high, and complete the sweep over a team who (while they may not have been playing well of late) came into the series occupying a playoff spot of their own. Doing so on the road would be a particularly nice exclamation point, although that’s an area where the D-backs have been especially good. At 27-20 going into this one, Arizona are two games better on the road than at home and it’s also the best road winning percentage in the National League. Quite a turnaround from last year, when they were eleven games worse away from home. Or maybe it’s a case of: damn you, El Humidor!