Twenty-four runs in the past two games?
What's gotten into the Arizona Diamondbacks hitters? Whatever it is, fans hope the barrage will continue after the team took two of three games, including a 12-5 win Thursday night, against the Kansas City Royals. Starting pitcher Dan Haren wasn't overpowering, but he was certainly good enough, giving up two runs on seven hits and striking out six batters in seven innings of work. With the D-Backs staking him to a five-run lead by the time he took the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning, Haren attacked the Royals hitters, working quickly and efficiently as he improved to 6-4 on the season.
Speaking of attacking, it was great to see such aggressive play by the D-Backs hitters. To wit: In the third inning, rookie Gerardo Parra stretched a double into a triple against the defensively challenged Royals. In the same inning, manager A.J. Hinch put on a double-steal with Chris Young taking third and catcher Miguel Montero taking second for Montero's first career stolen base.
It was an all-around stellar game for the D-Backs hitters. Every starter but Mark Reynolds got at least one hit, and some guys who have done very little with the bat over the first 10 weeks of the season came up really big. For starters, center fielder Young went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, a run scored, a run batted in, and a stolen base. Young, who's been well below the proverbial Mendoza Line all season long, raised his average to .204 with the performance. Unfortunately, after his eighth-inning triple, Young pulled up lame, grabbing his groin. Even if it's not serious, Young will undoubtedly miss this weekend's series against the Mariners. It's too bad, because Young had been hitting well over the past week.
Eric Byrnes, another scuffler, went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning that really put this game out of reach at 7-2. It was Byrnes' fifth homer and 24th RBI of the season. Justin Upton and Parra continued their outstanding hitting, with Upton going 3-for-5 with an RBI and Parra going 2-for-6 with a triple, home run, and three RBI. He's becoming an exciting player to watch at the plate and in the outfield.
We'll see if the D-Backs can keep it going when they take the field tonight at Safeco Park in Seattle to begin a three-game set against the Mariners. With Young likely out, Parra will probably play center field and Byrnes will take over in left. The Mariners, led, of course, by fleet-footed center fielder Ichiro Suzuki, are 32-34 in the American League West. Even though they're under .500, they're a better team than what many people expected, thanks in part to good pitching by Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn and unanticipated power numbers from journeyman infielder Russell Branyan. The Diamondbacks are 15-15 on the road this season. Here's how the series shakes out:
Today: Jon Garland (4-7, 5.45 ERA) vs. Washburn (3-5, 3.30). 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Billy Buckner (2-3, 7.36) vs. Jason Vargas (2-2, 3.56). 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: Doug Davis (3-8, 3.72) vs. Hernandez (7-3, 2.77, 90 strikeouts). 1:10 p.m.
All games will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona and broadcast on KTAR-AM 620.