|Shin-Soo Choo - RF||Jon Jay - LF|
|Rougned Odor - 2B||Eduardo Escobar - 3B|
|Elvis Andrus - SS||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Adrian Beltre - 3B||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Jurickson Profar - 1B||Steven Souza - RF|
|Robinson Chirinos - C||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Joey Gallo - LF||Ketel Marte - 2B|
|Delino DeShields Jr. - CF||John Ryan Murphy - C|
|Martin Perez - LHP||Robbie Ray - LHP|
Reclaiming the lead of the division would take two things to happen. The first is entirely within the D-backs’ control: beat the Rangers tonight. If we get good Robbie Ray, as showed up last time hie pitched in Chicago, I’m fairly optimistic we’ve got a shot at that. I mean, we’re facing a pitcher who, as discussed in the series preview earlier today, was “in a retaining pen with a bull, [when] the animal moved in a startling manner.” Perez fell over and broke his elbow, requiring surgery. That’s some Brian Anderson level nonsense. Though Martin Perez got the last laugh, having killed and eaten the bull responsible. Ah, that we could all do the same to those who cause us grief...
Another slice of Puig? For the other part of the equation will involve scoreboard watching, because the Dodgers take on the Brewers in Los Angeles tonight, their game getting under way about 20 minutes after this one in Phoenix. To some extent, this is a win-win situation for the D-backs: both teams are above us, so if we are victorious, we will either take over at the top of the NL West, or gain a game on the team currently occupying the first National League wild-card spot. On the other hand, one of them will also win, so tonight’s is probably a good litmus test for whether you’re a half-full or half-empty kind of person! As long as the D-backs win, let the other chips fall where they may, personally.
But we should probably get used to this. Tonight marks the end of the middle third of the season. For as long as the D-backs remain engaged in the hunt for a post-season spot, the scoreboard watching will likely only intensify from here on in. Right now, there are seven teams in the NL, so almost half the league, within 11⁄2 games of the lead in their division, and it seems likely the five post-season teams left standing will probably come from them. There is still the chance of a surge from elsewhere: the Nationals have a better run differential than both the Rockies and the division-leading Phillies. But for now, it’s the D-backs and the six others whose results will be getting watched around the country.