Shades of 2011?
Perhaps not quite at this point of the season, but the Diamondbacks are beginning to show the kind of resiliency which elevated the franchise to the top of the National League West division five years ago.
Down 4-0 and 6-4 Monday night to the National League West Division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks picked themselves off the mat numerous times in this one, and managed to pull out a 10-6 victory over the Dodgers before 24,215 in Chase Field.
The victory brought the Diamondbacks to within five games of the first place Dodgers, and showed a capacity for the dramatics. At the same time, they climbed within two games of that elusive .500 mark, and afterward, manager Chip Hale remarked, “we feel we’re better than our record.”
As the hallmark of a competitive team, there seems to be a different player in the spotlight each night.
On Monday, catcher Welington Castillo delivered the game-winner when he propelled a laser into the left-center field corner for a double to score Jake Lamb, who walked to lead off the eight. Later in the frame, a throwing from Dodgers’ reliever Pedro Baez scored another and a two-run, bases loaded single from Paul Goldschmidt iced the win.
“I don’t worry about my offense because I have a job to do behind the plate,” Castillo said. “I did hit a fast ball and got it pretty good. Since I got here, I’m feeling more comfortable at the plate, and this was a good win.”
What’s maddening about this team, as we approach the All-Star game, is their inconsistency. Should the Diamondbacks play with the grit and determination which characterized the win Monday night, this team could be an envious position.
Instead, their inability to string wins together of 15 out of 20, or 23 out of 30 continues to prevent this team from putting a clear assault on the Dodgers.
Still, their ability to rise from the ashes and serious challenge the Dodgers, a team which essentially tortured the Diamondbacks this season, is compelling.
“Our guys answered several times, and against their bullpen,” said Hale. “We have some advantages to our game, like team speed and being aggressive. We took advantage of situations.”
Things did not start as captivating.
Location, location, location.
Not only is that the mantra of real estate sales people, but managers and pitching coaches.
Apparently, Diamondbacks’ starter Allen Webster did not get the memo on location.
All over the vicinity of the plate but rarely inside the black, Webster walked three and hit a batter in the first two innings Monday night, and quickly fell behind.
If Webster avoided serious trouble after putting runners on base, his location in the fourth inning was dreadful. Allowing home runs to Andre Either, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson in the frame, Webster did not finish the fourth inning, and left allowing four runs, all earned, walked four hitters and hit another.
“It’s about fast ball consistency,” said Webster, whose ERA ballooned to 7.11. “Right now, I’m throwing too many bad pitches and I need to get it back. I’m not hitting spots and when you’re not hitting spots, you can’t expect the calls.”
That was a direct reference to missing pitches in the first inning. Here, Webster tossed 19 pitches in the opening frame and by the end of the second inning, he threw 32 pitches. In the 3.2 innings Monday night, Webster left with 72 pitches but only 35 for strikes.
Since his recall from Tripe- Reno on June 13, Webster’s resume now includes 15 earned runs in 18 innings and six home runs.
At that point, his teammates came to his relief.
A pair of two-runs homers, one from Nick Ahmed in the fifth and Yasmany Tomas (his first in Chase Field) in the sixth deadlocked matters at 4-4.
After the Dodgers’ Jimmy Rollins snapped the tie with a bases-loaded, two run single in the top of the seventh, David Peralta returned the favor with a two-run triple to tie matters again in the bottom of the frame.
In that inning, the Diamondbacks tied the score with two out. Here, Cliff Pennington singled to center and A. J Pollock laced a single to left. Peralta then slammed a tracer to left center off of Dodgers’ lefty reliever Adam Liberatore.
“The more I see lefties, the better I’m doing,” said Peralta. “I try and be like the team, be aggressive. If you’re aggressive, you never know what will happen.”
That set the stage for Castillo’s game-winner the following inning.
“We want to play hard on every pitch,” said Goldschmidt, whose 2-for-4 night raised his batting average to .352. “That’s where we need to be to win every night. This was a great win, but other times, we haven’t been able to do this. We just need to play with consistency.”
NUMBERS WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION
As teams in the Diamondbacks’ organization near their All-Star break, numbers over the first half of the season reveal the value and worth of transactions from this past off-season.
Over the winter, the Diamondbacks unloaded catcher Miguel Montero and his $40 million contract to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league pitchers Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia.
At Advance-A Visalia, Godley leads the Rawhide in wins with eight (8-3, 12 starts), and sports a 2.27 ERA, lowest among starters.
Mejia, pitching for Kane County, is 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA for six starts.
Catcher Oscar Hernandez, recovering from a broken left hand sustained late in spring training, is hitting .250 (3-for-12) at Reno. When Hernandez is ready to come off the disabled list, he must be placed on the Diamondbacks, 25-man, major league roster or returned to the Tampa organization. That’s because the Diamondbacks selected Hernandez from the Rays in last December’s Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings.
Peter O’Brien, acquired from the New York Yankees last July for Martin Prado, remains in Reno, and his currently the Aces’ DH. This season, O’Brien has split time between catching and left field. At Reno, O’Brien is currently hitting .285 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs.
Two players from the organization were selected for the World Team in the up-coming Future Game over the All-Star break in Cincinnati.
At Mobile, outfielder Socrates Brito, from the Dominican Republic, is hitting .266 with 10 doubles, eight triples, 34 runs scored and 24 RBIs.
At Kane County, pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang, a native of Taiwan, is 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA in six starts.
All above figures are from games through June 28.