The burgeoning superstardom of Justin Upton has been one of the few reasons (if not the only one) to tune into the Arizona Diamondbacks' games over the last couple months. The 21-year-old's dynamic fielding and hitting heroics this season (including 84 hits, 14 home runs, and 45 RBIs) have earned him a shot at participating in next month's All-Star Game, as well as multitudes of cheers from hometown crowds at Chase Field.
But said cheers became a flood of jeers during Sunday's 12-8 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim when the D-Backs faithful unleashed a chorus of boos directed at Upton after he dropped a Maicer Izturis fly ball in the top of the fifth. J-Up wasn't the only Snakes star getting shit from the fans, as a portion of the 25,684 in attendance hissed and heckled aplenty during the error-filled and absolutely dismal fourth and fifth innings.
Up 2-0 at that point, Arizona began busting out with boners on a massive scale. Max Scherzer (5-5, 3.67 ERA) gave up a single to Izturis and followed up by walking both Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera. Gary Matthews then became a major headache for the starting pitcher as he knocked a bases-clearing double, reached third on a throwing error by Augie Ojeda, and flat-out stole home during Erick Aybar's turn at bat. Catcher Miguel Montero could've killed him at the dish, but barely missed the tag.
The Halos continued to pile it on during the adjacent frame, unwittingly aided by the piss-poor fieldwork of the boys in Sedona red. Angels pitcher Jeff Mathis reached first on a bobbled catch by Mark Reynolds. Izturis made it to third on the aforementioned Upton error (which also plated Matt Palmer from second), and later scored after a throwing gaffe by Felipe Lopez. A call to the bullpen didn't do much to stop the bleeding, as Rivera roughed up reliever Leo Rosales with a two-run moonshot. In total, the D-Backs tied a team record with three errors in a single inning.
No wonder some smart-ass fans in attendance gave players mock applause when they got through the top of the sixth in competent fashion, which caused to Upton to pull a fake-out throwing of a caught ball into the stands. (Look at the bright side, Justin; at least it was only boos they were tossing at you instead of batteries, a la the Giants Nation.) It's ironic that yesterday's fan freebie was a nightlight, since the Diamondbacks needed some help crawling out of the 9-2 cave they'd dug. To their credit, a six-run performance in the sixth negated things just a little, but the Angels' closers snuffed out any potential comebacks.
It wasn't Upton's only headache of the weekend, as he was part of probably the screwiest play of the season, which came during Saturday's 2-1 defeat. Aybar popped a rolling bunt during the sixth inning that normally would've been a cakewalk for Doug Davis to fling to Lopez for the easy out. Then again, these are the 2009 Diamondbacks were talking about, so naturally Lopez was out of position and the ball went deep into the outfield. Upton's throw to nail Aybar (who was rounding second at this point) went over Reynolds' head, resulting in an inside-the-park home run. Off a bunt. (Arizona is nothing if not innovative in finding new ways to lose.)
It was almost as embarrassing as Friday's 12-3 trouncing by Los Angeles, in which rookie pitcher Billy Buckner earned a one-way ticket to Triple-A Reno after an eight-run second inning. Seemingly the entire Angels lineup scored in the inning, including a two-run dong by Torii Hunter. An outbreak of RBI base hits preceded the downtowner, including grounders by Rivera and Kendry Morales, a double by Mathis, and a triple by Izturis. The contest was not without its D-Back highlights (meaningless as they were), as Stephen Drew planted a two-run shot in the left-field seats during the fifth.
After the three-game sweep, Arizona finished interleague play with a record of 3-9 and fell to 30-46 overall. They'll have today off while traveling to Ohio for a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds starting tomorrow. Here are the projected pitching match-ups:
Tuesday, 4:10 p.m.: Dan Haren (6-5, 2.25) vs. Bronson Arroyo (8-6, 5.54)
Wednesday, 4:10 p.m.: Jon Garland (4-7, 5.04) vs. Johnny Cueto (7-4, 2.86)
Thursday, 9:35 a.m.: Doug Davis (3-8, 3.28) vs. Aaron Harang (5-8, 3.95)
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.