There were a slew of scowling faces populating the stands at Chase Field this past weekend, but -- for once -- none of 'em belonged to Arizona Diamondbacks fans. Nope, it was members of the Chicago Cubs nation who were glowering as they watched their team get swept by the D-Backs during their weekend series.
And believe us, Cubbies fans had a lot to frown about. Arizona defeated Chicago quite handily during all three games, winning by at least four runs in each contest. As a result, they increased their current winning streak to four games, got above the .500 mark, and gained ground on both the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West standings.
Despite earning a sweep at home, there were a couple of bits of bad news coming out of Diamondbacks-land this past weekend.
Joe Saunders was scratched from starting Friday night's game due to a stiff shoulder, and Ian Kennedy's woes continued on Saturday night when he earned 10 hits and five runs in only four innings. (There's also been some recent drama regarding D-Backs play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton, who was mysteriously yanked from the broadcast booth in the days leading up to the weekend series.)
Arizona (37-25) was able to overcome these issues and secure three victories in a row thanks to a combination of poor play by the hapless Cubs (24-48) and strong pitching by both the bullpen and such starters as Wade Miley, who continues to shine.
Josh Collmenter (0-2, 5.27 ERA) filled in for Saunders during Friday's 6-1 win, striking out six, and earning only three hits and one run in four innings of work. He may not have earned the victory, but was competent enough to keep the Cubbies in check until the D-Backs bullpen could take over in the fifth. The combo of Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, David Hernandez, and Bryan Shaw kept the Cubs scoreless for the rest of the game.
They also got some serious support from Arizona's lineup: Jason Kubel knocked a two-run homer in the fourth, Aaron Hill provided an RBI single in the fifth, and Miguel Montero coughed up a two-run triple in the sixth. Justin Upton continued to rebound from his recent hitless streak with a run-scoring ground rule double in the seventh.
The Snakes were even more productive offensively when they walloped close to a dozen runs off 16 hits on Saturday night, winning 10-5 and roughing up Chicago's pitching staff in the process. A Justin Upton homer kicked things off in the third and was following by six-run fourth inning that saw RBI hits by Kubel, Montero, and Paul Goldschmidt (who came damn close to hitting for the cycle during the game, lacking only a single).
The trio would each rack up another rib-eye in the later innings. The D-Backs were also aided by a throwing error by Luis Valbuena to catcher Geovany Soto, which allowed Ryan Roberts to score.
And while the Diamondbacks' sluggers were having a night to remember, Kennedy (5-77, 4.42) was experiencing an evening he'd probably like to forget. The erstwhile ace gave up 10 hits and five runs to Chi-Town over 4.1 innings before he was pulled by manager Kirk Gibson and spent the rest of the game scowling in the dugout.
In a reversal of fortune that only the baseball gods (or many sports wags) would appreciate, Kennedy's struggles were once again contrasted by the continuing success of Wade Miley (9-3, 2.19).
On Sunday afternoon, the 25-year-old lefty went eight innings and only notched three hits and one run as Arizona completed its sweep with a 5-1 win. He not only fanned a total of seven during the game (and retired 20 of the first 21 Cubs batters he faced), but also worked his way out of a few jams.
For instance, after walking Soto and giving up a double to Darwin Barney in the eighth, Miley kept his cool and forced Luis Valbuena into a line out and David DeJesus into a soft grounder to escape the inning. Upton also had a great afternoon with RBI hits in both the first and eighth.
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If Upton and the rest of the D-Backs can continue their recent scoring streak, they might just keep raking up the victories when they head back east this week for a six-game roadtrip. Their first destination will be Turner Field for a showdown with the middling Atlanta Braves (38-34).
Daniel Hudson (3-1, 6.60) is slated to pitch against the ATL's Tim Hudson (5-3, 3.88) when the three-game series kicks off on Tuesday night. Despite their similar surnames, the two hurlers aren't kin, but will duke it out on the mound like the Hatfields and McCoys when the D-Backs go down to Georgia and try to pick up their fifth straight win. First pitch on Tuesday is at 4:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.