hat a difference a year makes. Last season, the San Francisco Giants were the top team in the National League West, racking up victories en route to winning their first World Series in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks were dwelling in the cellar as one of the worst teams in baseball.
Twelve months later, things have changed. The Giants have been struggling a bit in the standings while the D-Backs are back in the swing of things. As such, both teams have been fighting for first place in the NL West in recent weeks and went head-to-head last night.
San Francisco wound up drawing first blood as they beat Arizona 6-5 in the first of a three-game series at Chase Field. The Jints scored early and often during the contest, amassing a 5-0 lead by the fifth inning after an RBI single by Pablo Sandoval in the first frame and a big-time double from Cody Ross later on.
Pitcher Matt Cain (6-4, 3.36 ERA) was tossing almost nothing but strikes in the early going, keeping Arizona scoreless until the hometown heroes attempted a comeback in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In fact, one of the few times Cain faltered came during the sixth inning was when his one-out curveball became a three-run homer via a mighty swing from Miguel Montero. The Venezuelan-born slugger notched his eighth moonshot of the season and scored Stephen Drew and Chris Young. Justin Upton's RBI double to left also brought in another run.
Meanwhile, Josh Collmenter (4-2, 1.86) wasn't having the best of luck on the mound. He surrendered five runs, eight hits, and three walks during his five innings of work, proving to be the key factor in San Francisco's victory.
With last night's win, the Giants (38-29) move to 1.5 games ahead of Arizona (37-31) in the NL West. The D-Backs still have a shot at regaining lost territory and winning the series, but only if they keep producing runs and get some solid innings on the mound. Let's hope Joe Saunders (3-6, 4.56) gets it going tonight when he goes against Jints southpaw Madison Bumgarner (2-8, 3.2). First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM (or en Español con KBMB 710 AM). For tickets and more information, visit www.dbacks.com.
Benjamin is the clubs editor at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.