The Arizona Diamondbacks have won nine of their last 10 and swept the Houston Astros over the weekend to take first place in the National League West.
Not bad for a team no one expected to be any good.
Success did not come without much effort from the Diamondbacks this weekend. Twice the D-Backs had to rally late to overcome deficits against the Astros in Houston. But the team managed to win behind resilient efforts by Daniel Hudson, Zach Duke and Josh Collmenter by scores of 7-6 Friday, 11-3 Saturday, and 4-2 Sunday, to take a half-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the division.
Friday's game looked like a disaster at the beginning.
Daniel Hudson gave up two runs in the first, three in the second, and one in the fourth, putting the Diamondbacks in a 6-0 hole against the Astros' sometimes-dominant ace Brett Myers.
But Hudson managed to keep the Astros off the board in his other innings and Juan Miranda was able to almost-singlehandedly rally his teammates on offense.
Miranda hit two two-run bombs, one in the fifth and another in the sixth, to cut the deficit. In the seventh, the Diamondbacks rallied for three runs on Kelly Johnson and Chris Young singles, giving the team a one-run lead the bullpen was able to held.
Kam Mickolio, David Hernández and J.J. Putz were able to hold the lead and close out the game.
Saturday's game was a laugher: the Diamondbacks scored two in the second and four in the fourth before settling for three in the eighth and two more in the ninth. Gerardo Parra and Zach Duke -- yes, Zach Duke -- each hit homeruns while Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Miguel Montero contributed RBIs of their own.
Duke's performance was remarkable. A once-hyped prospect, he's had a middling career. Making his first start of the season he held the Astros scoreless in seven innings, allowing three hits, one walk, while striking out four.
Hopefully the left-hander can continue to contribute quality innings for the Diamondbacks.
It almost looked like the D-Backs were going to blow the game Sunday when Josh Collmenter, who pitched excellently, gave up two runs in five innings while the Diamondbacks struggled to get anything across the board. But the team was able to overcome its early struggles.
Justin Upton scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Young in the sixth. The team scored three more in the eighth on an Xavier Nady double with Ryan Roberts and Chris Young on base. Juan Miranda followed with a single to shallow center scoring Nady, giving the Snakes a two-run lead, more than enough for tough closer JJ Putz.
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And that is how the Diamondbacks came from behind to take a half-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the West.
The division lead is worth celebrating as the Diamondbacks give fans reason to show up for games this summer.
Who knows -- they might prove themselves contenders by the end of the year.
Right now, they're making up for last season's mediocrity.