Miguel Montero socked a two run homer, Gerardo Parra drove in two runs, and Ian Kennedy pitched six and a third innings of solid ball as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Mets 6-3 at Chase Field Saturday night. The victory brought them to within four and a half games of first place in the NL West, pushed them above .500 with a 51-50 record, and also ran their current homestand record to 7-2.
The Diamondbacks are currently in a fight for their playoff lives (as well as a fight to prove to GM Kevin Towers that he should be buying, rather than selling, at Tuesday’s trade deadline), and they are getting the job done against teams that they should beat. They are scoring tons of runs, getting great pitching from their bullpen, and seem to finally be clicking on all cylinders in a way that they have been unable to do consistently this season.
Saturday night’s game in particular showed how the various components of their lineup are taking charge of things. Center field seems to be a place where guys go to hit now for this club, with Chris Young finally starting to find his groove again after struggling so mightily after coming off the disabled list, and Parra swinging a solid bat as well. He looked fantastic in this one, going 3-for-4 while driving in a pair of runs. His only out was a fantastic catch in center field by Andres Torres, which elicited a tip of the cap near first base by Parra.
Montero also continued what has been a red hot July for him, scoring twice and hitting that towering blast in the fourth inning with Justin Upton on first base. He has a hit in all but one game of the team’s current home stand, and has driven in eight runs total over the past week and change in downtown Phoenix. With his recent surge, he is now on pace to drive in 93 runs, and he is also going to warrant some serious consideration for a Gold Glove award as well, so he has been excelling in all aspects of the game lately.
Upton, although he only went 1-of-4 in this one, has been on fire lately, especially since being bumped down to the number five slot in the lineup after spending the first half of the year batting fifth. He has reached base in every game he has played since July 15th in Chicago, has driven in five runs on this homestand, and is improving his patience at the plate in a big way, drawing 10 walks in his past eight games. When you couple that with the simmering down of trade rumors involving the star outfielder, you can see that he is starting to show glimpses of his MVP form, and we could be looking at a serious breakout of power from this young man.
Finally, there was the success of the bullpen, who pitched 2 2/3rds innings of solid baseball in this game. Takashi Saito retired both batters he faced in relief of Kennedy in the seventh inning, David Hernandez struck out two in impressive fashion, and JJ Putz came in and slammed the door by striking out the side in a roller coaster ninth inning. All total, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen struck out six batters, allowed two hits, and issued one walk during their performance, and as Mark Grace alluded to during the television broadcast, they proved once again that they are arguably the team’s most consistent asset this season.
The negative side of the ledger was pretty short for this one, with only one event in particular garnering attention. In the fourth inning, Kennedy was locked in a heated battle with Ike Davis, and he was over 10 pitches deep into the at-bat when Davis fouled off yet another pitch. Montero went out to the mound to try to talk strategy with his pitcher, but on the very next delivery, Davis cranked a home run to deep center field, his second of what would end up being three home runs, and all Kennedy could do was shake his head in disbelief.
Kennedy should not only take some heat for failing to locate his pitch on that particular play, but he also deserves flak for the mini-meltdown he had the rest of the inning. He started losing his command in a big way, and he seemed to be overthinking everything that he was doing, including where he wanted to locate his pitches. That is a big no-no for a feel guy like Kennedy, and if he can’t stop himself from getting psyched out after losing a tough battle with a hitter, then he is going to get himself into trouble more often than he’ll be able to fix the situation.
The Diamondbacks will go for the series win tomorrow afternoon, as well as an 8-2 homestand, when the finish up against the Mets. They will be facing potential Cy Young candidate RA Dickey for the Mets, and the D’Backs will oppose him with Joe Saunders, who could be making his last start in an Arizona uniform should the team decide to trade him before the deadline.
First pitch is at 1:10pm, and the game can be heard on 620AM or seen on Fox Sports Arizona