Max Scherzer might as well start calling himself Jack Sparrow, since the Diamondbacks pitcher was cutting down Pirates left and right during yesterday's 9-0 shutout over Pittsburgh at Chase Field. Instead of using ye olde cutlass, however, he was doing it with his 94-mile-per-hour four-seamers and sliders, dispatching Bucs batters with on-target tossing and totaling 85 strikes out of the 109 pitches he threw during seven scoreless innings.
Truth be told, the entire D-Backs roster caught fire over the weekend, resulting in back-to-back blankings of Pittsburgh and allowing them to secure the four-game series. The pitching? As noted, it was fantastic. The bullpen? Equally competent, for a change. And the hitting? It was downright explosive, fueled by a non-stop stream of doubles and triples.
Stephen Drew and Gerardo Parra began the scoring parade in the first, plonking a couple of two-basers to generate a run, while Ryan Roberts launched a RBI double in the following frame to bring in Josh Whitesell. Justin Upton provided a monster hit in the third, only to be upstaged by Mark Reynolds' two-out, two-run homer. Miguel Montero continued his nine-game hitting streak with a ribbie single in the seventh, adding some extra juice to the inevitable debate concerning whether he should be replaced by Chris Snyder once the rehabbing Snyder returns from the minors next month.
Montero also came up big on Saturday, nailing a pair of RBI doubles to help the Snakes blast the Buccos 7-0. J-Up also earned his paycheck (and then some) with three different two-base shots to bring in runs. Starter Doug Davis had a busy evening on the mound, slaying such Pirates as Jack Wilson and Andrew McCutchen in what quite possibly could be his final appearance in Sedona red (as it's widely speculated that the lefty might be dealt away sometime before this week's trading deadline).
Both contests were a joy to watch, but should be considered nothing but enigmas or a short vacation from reality. Most teams in the bigs have battered Pittsburgh like a red-headed stepchild this season, transforming from zeroes into heroes.
"What you saw this afternoon does not happen very often ," one KTAR sports commentator stated on Sunday.
In fact, Friday's 10-3 loss was more demonstrative of Arizona's current state, as evidenced by the 2-0 lead the D-Backs blew after Yusmeiro Petit and the rest of the pitching staff gave up both hits and runs to the likes of Dewlyn Young and Garrett Jones.
The Snakes now go from one of the worst teams in the National League to one of the best in the Philadelphia Phillies. Even if the defending World Series champions don't wind up grabbing sought-after Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, they're still a formidable force to be reckoned with and are currently the hottest team in baseball. The Phightin' Phils (56-40) have won nine of their last 10 games (including a pair of drubbings to the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend) and lead the league in batting with such supersize sluggers as Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.
The probable pitchers for the three-game series at Chase Field are as follows:
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Tonight, 6:40 p.m.: Jon Garland (5-9, 4.41) versus Jamie Moyer (9-7, 5.65).
Tuesday, 6:40 p.m.: Dan Haren (10-5, 2.14) versus TBD.
Wednesday, 6:40 p.m.: Yusmeiro Petit (0-5, 7.68) versus J.A. Happ (7-1, 2.97).
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. For tickets and more info: www.dbacks.com.