If there's any sort of absolute that applies to the Arizona Diamondbacks during this dreadful season of baseball it's this: The only thing that's certain is that nothing's for certain.
For instance, the Snakes appeared to be on an upswing entering their three-game series this past weekend against the Houston Astros. They'd won seven of their previous nine games and had managed to topple some pretty challenging foes with good baseball. Just when you thought the dark clouds were dissipating, however, the storm started to get worse.
After starting out on Friday night with a 5-2 victory against the Astros, the Diamondbacks lost the next two in close fashion and wrapped up the holiday weekend with a 0-2 shutout loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Augie Ojeda had the biggest at-bat of Friday evening when he pinch-hit an sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and put the D-Backs on top. The journeyman outfielder hasn't seen much action this season, but made up for his lack of playing time with his wallop, which allowed Ryan Roberts to dash home for the deciding run.
Lady Luck wasn't as giving to Arizona on Saturday. Roberts provided at three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the Snakes a 5-2 lead over their opponents. Starting pitcher Joe Saunders went seven innings with only three hits and two runs before D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson pulled him from the mound. It was a decision that came back to haunt the skipper in the eighth, as reliever Aaron Heilman proceeded to hand the game to Houston on a silver platter. First, he allowed a triple from Angel Sanchez, tossed a wild pitch to give the slugger a clear shot at home plate, put batters onto first and third, and then gave up a three-run downtowner to Hunter Pence. End result: a come-from-behind win for the Astros.
Pence was proved to the big hero for H-Town on Sunday when the 27-year-old Texan blasted a three-run jack in the first inning. Houston never looked back as Arizona spent the rest of the afternoon trying to play catch up. Although John Hester and Kelly Johnson had solo jacks in the third and fourth frames (respectively), the Snakes came up short for their second consecutive loss.
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Hester also attempted to add another run in the fifth when he dashed home from second base following a Stephen Drew single, only to arrive a split second after Jeff Keppinger's toss reached the waiting mitt of Jason Castro. Momentum (or an unquenchable desire to score) caused Hester to crash into the Astros catcher, yielding a crashing together of baseball players and a comeback-snuffing out for Arizona and a final score of 3-2.
The boys in Sedona Red were equally as passionate during yesterday's nail-biter versus the San Francisco Giants, who are hip-deep in a battle with the San Diego Padres for the top spot in the National League West. As such, the Jints were playing with fire in order to maintain their pursuit of a postseason berth. Meanwhile, seemed to match them at every turn. This battle of wills played out on the mound as both San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Arizona's Ian Kennedy engaged in a hard-fought pitchers duel, each going scoreless for eight innings. The contest also featured some brilliant plays from either squad, including a spectacular diving catch by Gerardo Parra in the ninth.
Both teams desperately tried to generate runs, but ultimately left a slew of runners stranded on base. Thing stayed 0-0 up until the Giants tipped the game in their favor in the 11th inning after Heilman once again robbed his city of a victory by allowing back-to-back RBI singles by Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff.
The reliever's next opportunity to sink the Snakes will happen later tonight during the second game of the series takes place at the Chase. San Fran's Tim Lincecum (12-9, 3.68 ERA) will meet Barry Enright (6-2, 2.45) in what could be another brilliant baseball battle. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.