Arizona Diamondbacks Move Ever Closer to NL West Title, as Ian Kennedy Overpowers San Diego Padres for League-Leading 19th Win
The amazing, no-name Diamondbacks beat San Diego 4-1 last night, cementing Ian Kennedy's status as the winningest pitcher in the National League and increasing their lead over the idle San Francisco Giants to 7 1/2 games.
The right-hander had 11 strikeouts, one shy of his career best, giving up seven hits. If Kennedy ain't huge in the National League Cy Young discussion this year with his (so far) 19-4 record, something else is foul in Major League Baseball.
The D-Backs' magic number to win the National League West is now 12.
There were many positives for Arizona in last night's game. Possibly the biggest was that, with their 83-61 record, the Diamondbacks are within 1 1/2 games of overtaking the sure-to-win-the-NL Central Milwaukee Brewers (who lost last night to:Philadelphia) record-wise. This means that if the D-Backs wind up bettering the Brewers, they will play the National League wild-card team instead of the 92-48 Phillies, who have the best record in the bigs and will win the NL East by a landslide.
This in all likelihood would mean an opening post-season series against the Atlanta Braves, who are no slouches at 84-60. They suffer only from being in the same division as the Phillies -- and swept the Snakes during a recent East Coast road trip.
Though there are a slew of new faces on this season's D-Backs, it's a bit of an exaggeration to call the team no-name. Manager Kirk Gibson is one of the most famous baseball players ever, toiling on two world-championship teams. And All-Star Justin Upton is becoming a household name to anybody who watches Sports Center on ESPN.
And it was right fielder Upton who belted his 29th homer against the Padres, before getting pulled late in the game because of illness. After the game, Upton said he was experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms and left merely as a precaution.
Upton's lead-off, towering first-pitch homer to left field in the sixth inning was preceded by Kennedy's striking out the side in the top of the inning and Paul Bunyon-like first baseman Paul Goldschmidt's round-tripper to almost the same spot in the fourth.
The D-Backs scored their third run when Kennedy was hit with a pitch in the seventh, shortstop Willie Boomquist singled, and then ASU's Bloomquist broke up what would have been a sure double-play ball by sliding into Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson -- who consequently hurled the ball way over his first baseman's head and allowed Kennedy to score.
Catcher Miguel Montero -- who's on a 16-game hitting streak, with as many runs batted in during this span -- drove in the Snakes' fourth run later in the inning with a single to left.
San Diego managed to score its one run in the eighth, but the Friars were never in the game because of Kennedy's overpowering stuff. Plus, closer J.J. Putz was anything but, as he logged his 38th save this season, striking out the final batter.
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