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Snake Bytes 7/14: Headed Into The Great Unknown

Greetings from Los Angeles, California!

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I’m writing to you D’back-aholoics from Los Angeles, California this morning. I’ve infiltrated enemy territory if you will. Believe it or not, I do have other interests outside this game we love so much. Crazy right? I’ve been on an extended All Star Break as I travel to witness the triumphant comeback of one of my all time favorite bands. The Ghost Inside played last night for the first time since a tragic bus accident in November 19th, 2015. I was supposed to see them in Mesa the following evening until that event nearly took their lives. Nearly four years later they were able to make the return to the stage, with some ingenuity, after selling out the massive Shrine Auditorium in under five minutes. People traveled from all over the world to witness this event. I’m grateful to say I was apart of this experience as I write to you with a blown out voice, tired body, and a hefty credit card balance from all of the merchandise I purchased. And yes, there were D’backs fans here with me as well.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2, St. Louis Cardinals 4

[D’] Dyson’s amazing catch an outlier on sloppy night - When you play the outfield, inning after inning can go by without a ball hit in your direction, so D-backs outfielder Jarrod Dyson works to stay on his toes. “I’m always anticipating the ball coming to me,” he said. “Outfield can be boring. If you’re sitting out there in la-la land and not expecting it to be hit to you, it can catch you off guard real quick. I’m always anticipating the ball coming to me. I want the ball.” So, when Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt walked to the plate with a runner on first and no outs in the third inning on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, Dyson was ready for what came next. Goldschmidt launched a drive to left-center that sent Dyson back to the wall. Dyson timed his jump perfectly and reached up to snag the ball, robbing the former D-backs star of what looked like a home run. “I kind of anticipated him hitting that gap,” Dyson said. “I didn’t anticipate me robbing a homer or nothing like that. But I’ll take it. It was big for us. We needed it.”

[Arizona Sports] D-backs’ 3 errors prove costly in narrow loss to Cardinals - [Dakota] Hudson (8-4) gave up three hits and two runs in a 94-pitch stint. He struck out five and walked four. Carlos Martinez got the last four outs for his fourth save in six chances. Kelly surrendered just one earned run over five innings. A two-out error by third baseman Jake Lamb in the first allowed the inning to continue. Nick Ahmed had a run-scoring hit in the second for the Diamondbacks. He has reached safely in a career-best 14 successive games.

[AZCentral] Merrill Kelly’s miscues help Cardinals down Diamondbacks - Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly was not particularly sharp on the mound, but it was two plays that didn’t involve his pitching – one at the plate, the other in the field – that stood out in a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday evening. In the top of the second, Kelly came to the plate with nobody out, the bases loaded and Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson struggling to command his pitches. Rather than making Hudson work, Kelly, who entered the night 0 for 29, swung at the first pitch and bounced into a force out in what might have been a key at-bat against a struggling pitcher. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo tried to take the blame but eventually admitted that Kelly missed a sign. “The take sign was on, unfortunately, but it’s not his fault,” Lovullo said. “That’s my fault.” Lovullo said he should have made a point to communicate that, in words, directly to Kelly before the at-bat.

Diamondbacks News

[The Rattle] The Fork in the Road - The D-backs are 46-45, just barely over .500, and have been oscillating around that marker for the entire season. If they were to make the playoffs, they would be the worst Diamondbacks playoff team ever, unless they win 62% of their remaining games. At times, the roster has seemed uninspiring, especially against division rivals, and several noticeable gaps, such as the back-end of the rotation and the bullpen, would need solutions before a postseason run could be feasible. On the other hand, they are merely a game and a half back from the second Wild Card spot, and as teams like the 2014 World Champion Giants team proved, once you get in, anything can happen. In addition, other indicators of success have shown that the D-backs have been a better team than their won-loss totals have shown; both their run differential and their third-order winning percentage have them as the best team among Wild Card contenders to this date. This creates a puzzling picture for Mike Hazen to interpret as the deadline approaches.

[D’] D-backs have Trade Deadline decisions to make - Buy, sell or hold? That’s the dilemma still facing D-backs general manager Mike Hazen with just over two weeks until the July 31 Trade Deadline, the final chance for clubs to make deals, as there is no longer an August waiver-trade period. “You don’t necessarily, at the start of the season, envision this being sort of your decision window, but it is what it is,” Hazen said. “You’ve got to make decisions on what you’re seeing.” The D-backs began Saturday just a half-game behind the Phillies for the second National League Wild Card spot, and how they play over the next 10 days will go a long way toward what moves Hazen makes. “I think we’ve played pretty well here the last four games,” Hazen said before Saturday’s game against the Cardinals. “The starting pitching has been very good. The bullpen has been good. We’ll see where it goes. We still have our work cut out for us with the schedule we have in front of us and the competition in the National League, a couple of games could push things in a direction one way or the other.”

Around the League

[ESPN] HOFer Bob Gibson says he has pancreatic cancer - Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Gibson, who won the Cy Young and National League MVP awards in 1968, sent a letter to living Hall of Famers informing them he is battling pancreatic cancer. Gibson, widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, was diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago, his agent, Dick Zitzmann, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Zitzmann told the newspaper that he has spoken to Gibson and that chemotherapy is expected to begin Monday in Omaha, Nebraska, the pitcher’s hometown. Gibson, who turns 84 in November, has been hospitalized in Omaha for the past two weeks.

[CBS Sports] Rangers’ Jesse Chavez offers home plate umpire Rob Drake his glasses after blown strike calls - The Astros led 2-1 in the second inning after Yuli Gurriel clobbered a two-run homer against Jesse Chavez. Chavez walked the previous batter, Yordan Alvarez, on eight pitches, and he was not happy with some of the calls. Pitch No. 1 and pitch No. 7 stand out as borderline calls that went against Chavez. They were on the edge and home plate umpire Rob Drake gave the calls to Alvarez. Alvarez walked and Gurriel went deep, and that was that. Following the game Chavez told reporters, including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, he offered his glasses to Drake as he walked off the field following that second inning.

[Cut4] Shout-out to these Astros fans behind the plate wearing space helmets in the summer heat - Would you take a look at the expression on the woman’s face? Presented without context I’m going to assume she is pissed having to wear that ridiculous helmet to a baseball game. She does not look as amused as the man sitting next to her.