Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
By Josh Greene
Let’s face it. Just days ago, it looked as if the only way the D-backs were going to see the city of Milwaukee again before next season was to catch a rerun of “Happy Days.”
But that’s what back-to-back must-wins at Chase Field will do for you. Now the team prepares for an improbable-turned-decisive Game 5 back at Miller Park Friday afternoon. Continue reading
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
By Josh Greene
For a team that’s been remarkably resilient all season long, the D-backs know they will need to be even more so on Tuesday for Game 3 of their National League Division Series vs. Milwaukee. Continue reading
(Photo by Jordan Megenhardt/Arizona Diamondbacks)
By Greg Dillard
Gibson praises ace Kennedy
Ian Kennedy has been dominant and then some throughout 2011.
He entered Thursday night’s start against San Diego with a stellar 18-4 record and a 2.96 ERA. In 194.1 innings pitched, Kennedy has struck out 167 batters.
Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
Joe Saunders must like facing the Padres.
Last month, the southpaw silenced the San Diego lineup in a dominating performance at Petco Park. He tossed eight shutout innings before yielding a single run in the bottom of the ninth.
On Saturday night, Saunders toed the rubber against the Padres once again, and similar to his July 26outing in San Diego, the left-hander quieted the Padre offense for seven innings. He scattered four hits and allowed a lone run while striking out three as the D-backs held on to a 3-1 victory.
Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth, the Astros were one pitch away from clinching a 5-3 victory and splitting the series against the D-backs.
Paul Goldschmidt had other plans.
The D-backs returned home from the road Monday night, and greeted fans at Chase Field with a gem.
Behind Opening Day starter Ian Kennedy, the D-backs won 4-0 with home runs from Chris Young and Gerardo Parra. Justin Upton contributed a key double to center field, and made a tremendous diving catch in right.
But the star of the night was Kennedy, who pitched the first complete game shutout of his career, holding the Phillies to three hits while striking out 10 batters and not issuing a single walk. It was a brilliant, memorable performance in a ballpark that has seen the home team’s pitchers throw many brilliant games over the years.
Here are some images from photographer Jordan Megenhardt:
Ian Kennedy on the win:
Chris Young on the win:
Kirk Gibson on the win:
Photography: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The D-backs picked up their first series win of the season, taking two out of three against the defending NL Central Champs, the Cincinnati Reds.
With a full count and two outs, Chris Young hit a three-run, go-ahead home run off Reds reliever Nick Masset in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The D-backs trailed 5-1 early, but Stephen Drew got things going with a ground-rule double in the third, and then the team broke things open with a five-run sixth.
Ryan Roberts provided the big hit in that frame, launching a three-run homer to left-center field to cap off a five-run sixth inning that gave the D-backs their first lead of the game.
Roberts grabbed one of the final roster spots after staying red hot through Spring Training while fellow utility infielder Geoff Blum had an injury that necessitated a DL stint. Roberts has taken advantage of the opportunity, going deep twice and reaching base safely seven times in his first five games.
Hudson brilliant in first Chase Field start
On Saturday night, Daniel Hudson bounced back from a shaky first inning to hurl seven solid innings in his first home start of 2011.
“I battled (with) my command a little bit in the first inning,” Hudson said. “I was throwing a little bit too much across my body, left a couple pitches up, but other than that felt good.”
The Reds managed to put two runs on the board in the opening frame, but that’s all they would muster through the rest of his outing. Hudson cruised, allowing only one hit after the first inning. He set the Reds down in order in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Hudson went out with a bang in the seventh, striking out Jonny Gomes, Jay Bruce and Ryan Hanigan.
“(I was) really getting locked in with my arm slot. Staying on top of the ball and driving down hill is the biggest adjustment I had to make,” Hudson said.
In his seven innings of work, Hudson scattered three hits, allowed just two runs, and struck out eight batters. He even lined a single to left field in a fifth inning at-bat, giving Hudson a three-game hitting streak.
Saturday’s outing was Hudson’s 13th consecutive quality start, which tied him with Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson for third place all time.
“He settled in nice,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “Seven innings, gave up three hits, walked a couple, but he got stronger as the game went on for sure. He certainly did his job.”
Branyan makes Chase Field debut
In the D-backs’ second home game of the season, newcomer Russell Branyan received the starting nod at first base on Saturday. It was his second start of the season, the other being against the Cubs on April 4.
The slugger won a roster spot after an outstanding Spring Training performance. That hot hitting has carried into the regular season as he raised his average to .444 with two more hits on Saturday.
Branyan flashed the leather in the opening inning when he corralled a Chris Young throw with the bases loaded and one out, then quickly gunned out Jonny Gomes at third base for the double play. In the ninth, Branyan hauled in a line drive off the bat of Drew Stubbs and stepped on first base to turn the unassisted double play.
In his second at-bat, Branyan rocketed a stand up double off the right field wall, his first of the season. Later in the eighth, Branyan smacked a 102 mph fastball from Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman into left field for a single.
“He’s tough,” Branyan said. “He’s a hard throwing lefty. You don’t see that many in the game.”
The streak continues for Montero
With his single to center field in the fourth inning Saturday night, Miguel Montero extended his season opening-hitting streak to seven games. Montero’s streak is the third-longest season opening streak in team history.
Montero is off to an incredible start to the season. He collected three hits in yesterday’s home opener, and is now hitting .500 this season. Montero got his first day off Sunday, with Henry Blanco drawing the start.
Willie Bloomquist has also strung together a hitting streak to start the season, hitting safely in seven straight games.
Photography: Jon Willey
By Greg Dillard
Under an overcast sky in Scottsdale, D-backs pitchers and catchers took to the practice fields at Salt River fields for a variety of workouts on Friday.
Spring Training serves as a time to work on the fundamentals of the baseball. Pitchers and catchers devoted time to bunt defense drills, comebacks, pick-offs and much more.
On Friday, catchers participated in fundamental drills such as rundown plays.
“Those are little things you got to do in a game,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “That’s one thing that help you win a game. If you are not able to do it, then you aren’t going to win any games. It’s always important to do all those plays and do the little things to help you win a ballgame.”
Hudson looks to duplicate 2010 success
After being acquired by the D-backs from the White Sox last July, pitcher Daniel Hudson was nothing short of dominant on the mound.
Hudson came to Arizona and immediately made an impact by posting seven wins, a 1.69 ERA, and striking out 70 batters in his 79 2/3 innings of work.
So far this spring, Hudson is enjoying his first spring as a member of the D-backs.
“I felt great, getting into the full swing of things,” Hudson said. “You’ve got position players officially reporting tomorrow, full team workouts and everything. I’m pretty jacked up.”
After making a bold statement with his performance last year, Hudson is eager to continue his success for all of 2011.
“You got to keep getting better every day,” Hudson said. “That’s what I always tell myself. Just go out there and try to replicate what I did last year. If I’m fortunate enough to even come close to that then I’m good. I’m just trying to go out there and give the team the best chance to win and try and get deep into ballgames.”
Baylor brings experience to coaching staff
Don Baylor has seen it all throughout his lengthy career as a player, manager and coach in the Major Leagues.
Baylor was hired this past offseason as the new D-backs hitting coach, and is tasked with helping rejuvenate an offense that struck out at a record rate last season.
In 2010, Baylor returned to the Colorado Rockies as their hitting coach. Under his watch, the team plated 804 runs which was the second most in the National League. Baylor’s hitters also clubbed 190 home runs.
“Don is a guy who’s got loads of experience as a player,” Gibson said. “He’s been a manager. He’s been a hitting coach for a lot of good hitters. He’s got a good way about himself. If you had the chance to spend time around him, you might think he’s quiet. He picks his spots. He’s not over coaching at this point.”
Several position players report early
While the first full squad workout is not until Saturday, several position players have been at Salt River fields already.
These players ranging from infielders Geoff Blum, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Willie Bloomquist to outfielders Chris Young and Justin Upton are here working out and getting a head start on their season.
Gibson said many of the position players are chomping at the bit to get going.
“We have staff so we can help them out,” Gibson said. “They want to be ready to go. You workout in the offseason, and then when you come to the field and you do all the elements you get really sore. Guys who have been here working out, it should help them out a little bit. They’re enthusiastic about it for sure.”