In a season that's been filled with low points and inauspicious occasions, the Arizona Diamondbacks plumbed new depths this past weekend: They got their asses swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates, currently the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball.
The National League's biggest zeroes looked like absolute heroes as they took three straight games from the D-Backs at PNC Park.
They got to Arizona's bullpen (big surprise), obliterated Barry Enright, overcame good performances by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, and generally made the Snakes look like suckers all weekend long.
The weekend of wasted efforts began on Friday with a 4-3 win by the Pirates that came after Ronny Cedeño's walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Esmerling Vasquez was on the mound and had already issued walks to two opposing batters when the Venezuelan-born slugger made him regret those decisions.
The Arizona reliever squandered a decent outing by Kennedy, who K'd four and only earned two runs in six innings of work (said scoring by the Bucs came after homers by Neil Walker and José Tábata). Kennedy's teammates helped lift him out of this hole with multiple RBI hits by Gerardo Parra and Stephen Drew throughout the game, which were ultimately nullified in the ninth.
Enright had a pretty rough go at it during Pittsburgh's 9-6 win on Saturday night when the Steel City squad brutalized the D-Backs starter for seven runs in only 3.2 innings of work. Andrew McCutchen had a two-run downtowner in the third inning just before the deluge began in the next inning. Here's how the furious frame went down: John Bowker had a two-run homer that traveled 410 feet, Tábata's single scored Chris Snyder from third base, and then Neil Walker's RBI hit brought in James McDonald and McCutchen. Yikes. Kelly Johnson and Ryan Church both came up with a pair of home runs late in the game, but it proved to be all for naught.
The Bucs completed their domination of the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 come-from-behind win that ironically took place on "International Talk Like a Pirate Day." You could practically hear a collective "Blimey!" coming from the Arizona dugout as Daniel Hudson's stellar performance was cancelled out by a late-inning rally. The starting pitcher downed six batters in as many innings and earned only three hits. Meanwhile, both Adam LaRoche and journeyman John Hester came up with RBI doubles in the fourth, followed by a solo jack by Ryan Roberts in the seventh.
Then came the eighth inning when Aaron Heilman trotted out from the bullpen and proceeded to gift wrap the game for his opponents. He allowed runners at first and third before a single out was recorded and then permitted back-to-back ribbies by Tábata and Walker. Expect to see Heilman (who has only gotten six saves in 66 appearances this year) to be begging for change on a freeway exit in the near future.
After returning to the Valley with their heads undoubtedly hung low, Arizona enters that final stretch of the 2010 season. It's nothing but NL West teams from here on out, beginning with the final homestand at Chase Field over the next week. There's still time for the Diamondbacks (59-91) to achieve a few more dubious distinctions, including losing more than 100 games, starting with their three-game series with the Colorado Rockies that begins tomorrow night.
The probable match-ups on the mound are as follows: Joe Saunders (2-6, 4.88 ERA) meets Jorge De La Rosa (8-4, 4.25) in a battle of the southpaws on Tuesday, while Rodrigo Lopez (6-14, 4.98 ERA) goes against Ubaldo Jimenez (19-6, 2.84) on Wednesday night. The series finale on Thursday will feature Kennedy (9-9, 3.79) taking on lefty Jeff Francis (4-5, 4.61). First pitch for tomorrow evening's game is at 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, go to www.diamondbacks.com.