September 8, 2011 | 7:45am
So, it's come to this:
If the Arizona Diamondbacks end up losing the NL West crown in the final three weeks of the 2011 season it will go down as one of the biggest folds of all-time.
Who woulda thunk it?
Not us, that's for sure.
We figured the locals would improve some under the leadership of manager Kirk Gibson, maybe winning 75 games or so (which would have marked a notable ten-game improvement over last season's depressing output.
Arizona's 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies last night epitomized this unlikely season -- a game in which the team dug deep to squeeze out a win that seemed unlikely at several points along the way.
For the record, the D-Backs are not, to put it mildly, a good base-running team. They are aggressive to a fault, and it cost them again last night (Aaron Hill was the latest sinner).
But clutch pitching and timely hitting make up for all manner of misdeeds, and Arizona had all of that and more up in drizzly Denver last night.
Joe Saunders performed admirably in a starting role, and continued the D-Backs' uncanny hitting-by-pitchers with a big hit to give his team a 4-3 lead.
Justin Upton and very-popular catcher Miguel Montero each had homers along the way, as Arizona ended up a critical six-game road trip with four wins, including two over the fading World Champions, the San Francisco Giants.
Seven up with 19 to play, including three against the Giants.
Looking good, though as Mr. Upton told reporters after the game, weirder things have happened.
We think he was talking about baseball.
Next up: San Diego Padres in a four-game series at Chase Field. First pitch tonight is scheduled at 6:40. Ian Kennedy (18-4,2.96 ERA) is tol start for the D-Backs; Cory Luebke (5-9, 3.29 ERA) is to take the mound for the Padres. TV: Fox Sports Net. For more information, go to www.diamondbacks.com