Arizona Diamondbacks Sweep The Colorado Rockies Right Out of the Playoffs. Next Up: The Los Angeles Dodgers Come to Town
It's wise idea to look your best in front of any new boss. And the Arizona Diamondbacks looked pretty damn good as they swept the Colorado Rockies this past week at Chase Field as newly hired general manager Kevin Towers watched from the stands.
During the series, the D-Backs flourished where they had failed during last week's perilous road trip, snapping their recent losing streak and stuck a knife in the Rox playoff hopes. Joe Saunders rebounded on the mound, Stephen Drew and Ryan Roberts continued to soar, and manager Kirk Gibson demonstrated why Towers and the rest of the Diamondbacks front office should remove the "interim" portion of his title.
The first game of the series on Tuesday featured Saunders fanning seven batters in eight innings (earning only one run in the process) and dispatching 10 straight hitters in his team's 3-1 victory. The D-Backs' sluggers complimented Saunders' stellar pitching performance with a slew of hits in the third inning that gave the team all the runs it needed. Drew got things going with a single to center and then stole second base, Roberts then followed with an RBI double, and Kelly Johnson capped it off with a two-run homer.
Both Saunders' efforts and the team's hitting must've gotten under the skink of Colorado's lineup, as outfielder Carlos Gonzalez tossed his bat aside in anger at one point and pitcher Jorge De La Rosa seemed a bit flustered at times. Maybe it was due to the fact that their postseason chances were fading with each batter that was retired.
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Ubaldo Jimenez appeared to be just as frustrated during Wednesday's contest as the all-star Rockies pitcher was rocked for five earned runs by Arizona in an 8-4 come-from-behind win. The D-Backs - surprisingly -- refused to roll over and die after Colorado racked up four runs via back-to-back homers by Melvin Mora and Todd Helton in the first.
Towers was taking in his first game as general manager, and his team wasn't about to falter in front of their new jefe. Drew answered back with a moonshot of his own in the bottom half of the inning, followed by two-run jacks by Adam LaRoche and Johnson in the third and eighth, respectively. Ryan Church and Chris Young also had a few RBI hits throughout the game.
Last night, it was Colorado's turn to attempt a comeback. Arizona led by as many as six at one point during Thursday's game, but almost let the game get away from them when their opponents came within one run of tying things up in the ninth.
There were most definitely problems on the pitching mound as Ian Kennedy only went four innings before Gibson pulled the plug and started sending in reliever after reliever. D.J. Carrasco and Carlos Rosa each lasted an inning, Esmerling Vasquez allowed three RBIs, Blaine Boyer permitted a grand slam to Gonzalez, and Aaron Heilman permitted a pair of runs. (Here's hoping that Towers was taking plenty of notes). Juan Gutierrez managed to stop the bleeding in final frame and denied the Rox a much-needed win. Colorado is now 3.5 games back in the National League Wild Card standings and are virtually out of the postseason hunt.
Arizona's final home series of the season starts tonight with a visit by the Los Angeles Dodgers (74-79). Barry Enright (6-5. 3.87 ERA) will battle lefty Clayton Kershaw (12-10, 2.98), while Daniel Hudson (6-1, 1.65) takes on John Ely (4-8, 5.00) on Saturday night. Saunders (3-6, 4.46) will face Chad Billingsley (11-11, 3.70) on Sunday afternoon during the final Chase Field game of 2010. The first pitch during tonight's contest goes down at 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, go to www.diamondbacks.com.