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Snake Bytes 9/29: Finish Line

As disappointing as missing the postseason might be, it’s difficult to not be optimistic about the future of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks 6, San Diego Padres 5

[D’] Walker’s go-ahead slam caps two-homer night - Christian Walker’s grand slam capped a five-run seventh inning as the D-backs rallied to beat the Padres, 6-5, on Saturday night at Chase Field. The D-backs close out the 2019 season Sunday as they go for a sweep of the Padres and look to extend their winning streak to five games. The D-backs trailed the Padres, 5-1, after Manny Machado, Luis Urías and Eric Hosmer homered for San Diego.

[AZ Central] Christian Walker snaps first career grand slam to lead Diamondbacks past Padres - “I feel like that I’ve proved to a certain point that I can help this team win,” Walker said. “A lot of that has to do with the guys around me, the staff and everyone from top to bottom. It means a lot.” The first baseman continued a breakout season with his 28th and 29th homers. He came into the year with 88 career at-bats over four seasons and an uncertain future, but has found a home in the middle of the Diamondbacks’ lineup this season. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Walker had been “laying in the weeds” while waiting for regular playing time at the big-league level. “It’s a great player development story,” Lovullo said. “It’s a story of perseverance, waiting for your chance and making the most of it. He’s done a tremendous job earning every single special moment this year.”

Diamondbacks News

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed still improving as free agency looms - Nick Ahmed is nearing the end of his fifth full season in the majors. It has been better than the one before it, just as that one had been better than the one it preceded. This has been something of a career-long trend for him. But even as Ahmed creeps ever closer to being an average major league hitter – and, thus, an ever-more valuable player given his defensive dominance – the Diamondbacks’ shortstop remains dissatisfied. He likes his path but does not think he has reached his destination. “I’m happy with a lot of things,” Ahmed said. “But also there’s a lot of areas of growth I’m continually looking at and trying to get better.”

[] Beer connects on first Fall League homer - No. 4 prospect Seth Beer hit his first homer of the AFL season as a part of a 2-for-4 day at the plate. He scored twice in addition to driving in a pair of runs. The No. 97 prospect in MLB was acquired from the Astros as a part of the Zack Greinke deal at the Trade Deadline, and he hit 26 home runs in his first full season of pro ball after being selected by the Astros in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

[Arizona Sports] Eduardo Escobar wins D-backs’ Luis Gonzalez Award - Eduardo Escobar added more accolades to his career season in 2019 by being named the fifth-annual winner of the Luis Gonzalez Award. The Arizona Diamondbacks announced that Escobar will be presented the award by Gonzalez in a pregame ceremony on Sunday. The award is given to the player who best exemplifies the D-backs on and off the field and is voted on by teammates, coaches and staff. Escobar set career-highs in hits, runs, homers, RBIs and total bases. He leads the D-backs in homers and RBIs and ranks tied for No. 4 in the MLB with Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado in RBIs with 118.

[Forbes] A Good Year, Certainly, But The Diamondbacks Are Hardly Satisfied - The Diamondbacks may have exceeded the expectations that many in the industry had for them this season, but do not tell them it was a good year. A good argument could be made, and maybe they will come to believe it in time. These Diamondbacks will win more games than the 82-win group that led the NL West on the first day of every month in 2018 before fading, and they will easily surpass the win total of 75 1/2 or 76 projected by most preseason analytical sites.

Around the League

[ESPN] Mets’ Pete Alonso breaks Aaron Judge’s rookie HR record - Mets slugger Pete Alonso hit his 53rd home run of the season Saturday night, breaking the MLB rookie record that Yankees star Aaron Judge set in 2017. Alonso launched a 93 mph fastball on a 1-2 count from Atlanta Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz just to the right of straightaway center field. The solo shot gave New York a 3-0 lead in the third inning, which would hold as the final score. As his 415-foot drive landed in the seats, Alonso raised both arms in triumph while running to first base. Mets teammates came out of the dugout to congratulate him as he rounded the bases, and the crowd of 32,210 at Citi Field gave a standing ovation to a player nicknamed “Polar Bear” during spring training by teammate Todd Frazier.

[] Benches clear after Hamels hits Yadi with pitch - With the Cardinals’ division hopes on the line Saturday night, Yadier Molina seemed to try to give his team a spark in the bottom of the second inning of Cards’ 8-6 loss to the Cubs at Busch Stadium. Molina glared at Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels after a pitch grazed Molina’s elbow to lead off the inning. The Cardinals’ catcher said a few words, Hamels responded and the benches and bullpens cleared. Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter and Cubs catcher Jonathan Lucroy grabbed Molina and Hamels before they got to one another.

[Yahoo Sports] Verlander gets 3,000th K, Astros clinch home field - Justin Verlander recorded two strikeout milestones, getting his 3,000th in the majors and career-high 300th of the season, and the Houston Astros clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick homered to back Verlander (21-6), who became the 18th pitcher to reach 3,000 career punchouts and the 19th since 1900 to reach 300 in a season. The right-hander came into the game with 2,994 strikeouts. He achieved the career milestone in the fourth inning when he got Kole Calhoun swinging at a slider. Calhoun reached first, though, on a wild pitch, and Andrelton Simmons then gave Los Angeles a 3-0 lead with a two-run homer to left-center.