If you're an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, you're looking to the future already, drooling perhaps at the notion of Justin "The Franchise" Upton becoming a perennial All-Star, hitting 40 homers, stealing 30 bases, hitting .315. It can happen.
Until that day arrives, you'll have to reside in Fantasyland, because this year's D-Backs team ain't getting any better anytime soon. But, hey, at least you get to watch Upton, which sure beats watching Conor Jackson try to hit anything but a fastball or Eric Byrnes pop up to an opposing infielder three times a game.
On Wednesday night in San Diego, the visiting team committed four errors, struck out 12 times against Jake Peavy, one of the NL's top three pitchers, and amassed only six hits -- and still won! That's what happens when you play the Padres, a team with only about four or five legitimate major-league starters in its lineup.
How did they manage to win this game 3-1? Exactly two (and only two) reasons: Jon Garland and Upton. Garland had another nice outing, matching Peavy pitch for pitch and giving up only three hits in seven innings. He raised his record to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 4.03. Garland, the former Angel and key figure on the 2005 White Sox championship team, is looking more and more like one of Arizona GM Josh Byrnes' best acquisitions of late. The 29-year-old righty is fitting in nicely with Dan Haren, Doug Davis, and Max Scherzer. As we've asked before, what if Brandon Webb were healthy . . . ?
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But then there's Upton. The 20-year-old future stud is looking like a young Andre Dawson in right field, slugging two titanic homers and snuffing a Padre rally by throwing out Henry Blanco at the plate. Upton drove in all three of the D-Backs' runs, upping his hitting streak to 12 games and his batting average to a respectable .284. Even Peavy had this to say about Upton's fifth-inning blast to the deepest part of expansive Petco Park: "Talented kid. He hit it hard."
Credit goes to embattled manager Bob Melvin for moving the hottest-hitting Diamondback up to third in the lineup, with Reynolds hitting fourth. With Reynolds being a solid hitter and a legitimate power threat, pitchers will likely give Upton more pitches to hit. Suddenly, Upton's at-bats are becoming must-watch events. He's a star in the making, a Ken Griffey-like talent who can carry this team for years to come.
Today, expect another pitchers' duel, with the D-Backs sending Dan Haren (3-3, 1.47 ERA) to the mound against the Padres' only other decent pitcher, Chris Young (2-1, 4.81). The two teams enter today's action tied at 12-16, tied for third in the weak NL West. The Padres had a surprisingly positive first month of the season, and the D-Backs endured a disappointing first month. Today, the Diamondbacks should put the Padres in the rear-view mirror for good. The game is at 12:35 p.m. TV: FSN AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.