The most valuable slugger on the Arizona Diamondbacks this season is not going to play in the All-Star Game in St. Louis next week -- not yet, anyway. The fans still have an opportunity to vote Mark Reynolds to be the final player named to the National League squad, but knowing the nowhere-close-to-rabid Diamondbacks fans, Reynolds will probably be enjoying a three-day vacation with his wife in his native Kentucky.
It's too bad. The 25-year-old infielder has really come into his own in 2009. Sure, there are all the strikeouts (and there a lot), but here's the thing: That's Reynolds' game. He's a classic slugger; if a pitch is near the plate, he's gonna take the biggest swing he can take. Yeah, with that approach, he'll miss plenty, but when he makes contact, he'll hit the ball a mile -- which he's done 24 times this season. You know who else approached hitting like Reynolds? Guys like Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa -- tons of K's, tons of longballs.
Reynolds hit two more longballs this weekend in Denver as the D-Backs earned a rare series win, taking two out of three games against the Colorado Rockies. After another dismal D-Backs-esque performance (three errors) on Friday in a 5-0 loss, the Snakes went wild on Saturday in an 11-7 win, and used timely hitting (including a three-run dinger by Reynolds) and a solid performance by starter (and All-Star starting pitcher) Dan Haren on Sunday to cool off the surging Rockies, 4-3.
Haren was solid, if not dominant, Sunday as he improved his record to 8-5 with one more start to go before the All-Star break. The D-Backs' ace gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings. Fortunately, Reynolds launched his three-run bomb off Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the top of the sixth inning to let Haren off the hook. And in the seventh, with Haren now out of the game, Felipe Lopez singled sharply to center to score Gerardo Parra, who'd stolen third base one pitch earlier. In the sixth and seventh innings, the D-Backs played inspired baseball. After that, relievers Jon Rauch, Scott Schoeneweis, Tony Peña, and Chad Qualls shut the door on the Rockies.
Tonight, the D-Backs return home to face the San Diego Padres, who sit a mere 2.5 games ahead of the D-Backs in the NL West. WIth a bit of momentum, the D-Backs should pull ahead of the Padres, because overall, they're a much more talented team than the Padres, who traded one of their better hitters, Scott Hairston, to the Oakland A's on Monday for some minor leaguers. That leaves Adrian Gonzalez as their only legit offensive threat.
Here's how the series match-ups look:
Tonight: San Diego's Walter Silva (0-2, 8.86 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (4-8, 4.81), 6:40 p.m.
Tuesday: Kevin Correia (5-6, 4.58) vs. Doug Davis (3-8, 3.15), 6:40 p.m.
Wednesday: Chad Gaudin (4-7, 5.35, 78 Ks in 75.2 innings pitched) vs. Max Scherzer (5-6, 3.73), 12:40 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com