D-backs host Giants in battle for first place

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard

The ongoing battle for first place in the National League West continues at Chase Field this week, as the D-backs play host to the Giants in a three-game series that kicks off tonight.

San Francisco comes to the desert with a slim half-game lead over Arizona in the division standings. The D-backs inched closer to the top after claiming a 12-9 win over Florida last night to cap a successful road trip.

“We’ve been playing well recently, and it’s always nice to come home obviously and finish up a road trip like we did last night,” infield/outfielder Xavier Nady said. “You come home and just try to continue playing good baseball no matter who it is.”

Rookie hurler Josh Collmenter (4-1, 1.12 ERA) will toe the rubber tonight for the D-backs in the series opener. He is opposed by Giants’ right-hander Matt Cain (5-4, 3.36).

In these two teams’ last meeting, the Giants handed Arizona three one-run losses in mid-May. The D-backs are aware that while it’s still only June, this series is crucial to the division race.

“The way we’ve been playing, we’re in a good mood right now,” catcher Henry Blanco said. “We know what we need to do out there to win these games. We know it’s a big series, but all we can do is do our best. If the pitching, the defense and the offense are there, we’ll come out on top.”

After tonight’s opener, Joe Saunders will take on Madison Bumgarner in a southpaw duel on Wednesday. In the Thursday’s series finale, ace Ian Kennedy will take the mound against the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong.

The D-backs are keeping the same mindset they’ve used all season despite the increased hype surrounding the series.

“We want to keep the same approach,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “They’re a very good team. We know what their strengths are. We’re going to do what it takes to win. That’s our mentality. We’re going to grind it out. We’re going to try not to get frustrated, good or bad, (and) stay humble just like always.”

Fans who want to watch the fight for the top division spot can take advantage of the D-backs’ unique “BeatSF” series ticket package.

By using the “BeatSF” code, fans can receive 20-percent off tickets and receive 10 free D-bucks to spend on concessions or team merchandise. Baseline reserve seats are just $20 and include $10 in D-bucks. First and third base reserve tickets are now only $40 and also include $10 in D-bucks.

Who has been the D-backs MVP so far in 2011?
(polls)

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