The Arizona Diamondbacks lost all three games in a series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend. With the starting pitchers struggling and a dismal offensive performance, the D-backs managed to put up a mere three runs the entire series.
Fresh off the All-Star break, the D-backs now find themselves third in the division, six and half games behind the San Francisco Giants.
The D-backs kicked off the series with an 8-1 loss on Friday after a 3 hour 40 minute rain delay. Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy struggled through just five innings and gave up seven hits and six runs, leaving many to wonder what happened to last year's Cy Young candidate. With Daniel Hudson's season over due to a Tommy John surgery last week, the team needs its ace back -- badly.
Willie Bloomquist led off with a double in the D-backs first at bat, and scored when Justin Upton grounded into a double play, drawing first blood. Unfortunately, the Cubs' following eight runs would go unanswered.
In the second, Kennedy gave Alfonso Soriano a high change-up he returned to left field for a double. He moved to second on a fly out, and scored with the help of a wild pitch. In the fourth, the Cubs moved ahead 2-1 when Soriano blasted a solo homerun, and one inning later, he delivered a three-run homer over Wrigley's ivy-covered wall.
Diamondbacks manager Kurt Gibson pulled Kennedy after he hit a batter and gave up a single in the sixth.
Left fielder Jason Kubel also left late in the game with a hamstring injury. He says he sustained the strain in the second inning, chasing down a ball hit by Soriano -- of course. He remained out of the starting lineup for the remainder of the weekend.
Saturday saw sunny skies, but the improvement in the weather didn't do much for the D-backs' performance. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless streak another six innings, bringing the total to 33. D-backs starter Joe Saunders gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings. It was his first start since returning from the disabled list with a strained left shoulder.
By the fourth inning, the Cubs established a 3-0 lead. They put up another in the sixth, capitalizing on a botched throw to first from shortstop Stephen Drew.
The D-backs finally responded with Chris Young's solo homerun in the seventh, but the late rally wasn't anywhere near enough to turn the game. This was Young's ninth homer in the season, but his performance since his thumb injury early this season continues to pale in comparison to the 2011 season. Gibson had Geoff Blum pinch-hit for Young on Sunday.
In the final game Cubs' Matt Garza pitched seven more scoreless innings. Darwin Barney smacked a Trevor Cahill pitch to left for a two-run homer in the second. On top of Anthony Rizzo's single to bring in David DeJesus in the first, the three runs were enough to topple the 'Backs.
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With so few bats swinging this weekend, fans may have found the off-field trade rumors to be more interesting action. The non-waiver deadline looms at the end of the month and the baseball world is a buzz with rumors of potential trades involving D-backs outfielder Justin Upton. The 24-year-old was a key player in last year's success, but execs say they still aren't convinced he's a winning player.
While the D-backs probably have enough depth in the outfield to continue without Upton, General Manager Kevin Towers told Upton on Friday they're not doing anything unless the right deal comes along - and that if it does, Upton will be part of the process.
Rumored deals include the Pirates and the Oakland A's, but with the D-backs lacking at shortstop and third, neither team seems to be a fit. Upton's contract includes a no-trade clause that allows him to veto trades to four teams. Last year those teams were the A's, Royals, Tigers and Indians but Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported this weekend that the Pirates are no longer on the list. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Yankees are one of the four current teams, but the remaining three teams are still unknown.
The D-backs head to Cincinnati to start a four game series against the Reds. Wade Miley will start today against Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo. First pitch at 4:10 pm. TV:FSAZ, Radio: 620 AM