Tagged: Chris Young

D-backs Carry Momentum into Decisive Game 5

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

Gibson praises Kennedy; talks Young, lineup and reunion weekend

 (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.

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Saunders stifles San Diego offense

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.

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Views From a Big Win

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:

Weekend Notes: D-backs Take 2 of 3 from Reds

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.

Notes from SRF: Kennedy To Start Opening Day

Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
After much anticipation, the D-backs have finally selected a pitcher to serve as their Opening Day starter on April 1 against Colorado.
One year after fighting through Spring Training attempting to crack the Major League roster, Ian Kennedy now finds himself receiving the honor of starting the first regular season game of 2011.
“You know it’s a possibility, but I knew I had a couple people in front of me,” Kennedy said. “It’s just a big honor. It’s something you dream about as a little kid. You want to be that Opening Day guy. It’s a big honor. I’m at a loss for words.” 
Last season was Kennedy’s first year in Arizona after being acquired from the New York Yankees in an offseason trade. In 2009, Kennedy missed an extended amount of time due to aneurysm surgery and pitched in only one game at the Major League level. 
As a new D-back, Kennedy did not disappoint by quickly establishing himself as a mainstay in the starting rotation. He notched nine wins and a solid 3.80 ERA in his 32 starts. In his first full season in the big leagues, Kennedy managed to throw a career high 194 innings. 
He capped off a strong first season by allowing two runs or less in six of his last nine starts. Of those nine starts, Kennedy pitched at least five innings in all but one of them. The right-hander notched 168 strikeouts, a rate of 7.8 per nine innings. 
For Kennedy, he entered this Spring with a different approach compared to years past. 
“Coming in here last year, (I was) trying to make the team,” Kennedy said. “This year, just happy that I can treat Spring Training like most guys on the roster treat Spring Training and not try to make the team. Just trying to get ready for the season. I knew the Opening Day spot was kind of up for grabs. So that was in the back of my mind that it was possible.”
This will be Kennedy’s first career Opening Day start, and he is the sixth D-backs pitcher to start on Opening Day, joining Andy Benes, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. The D-backs are confident that he is the right man for the job. 
“He pitched very good for this ball club last year,” General Manager Kevin Towers said. “He finished strong, almost logged 200 innings. He’s a pitcher. I mean this guy has four pitches. He throws them all for strikes. He’s a guy that I don’t think will have any fear for being an Opening Day starter. He’ll probably look at this start like any other start.
“He’ll go out and give you everything that he has. I’m looking for him to have some success out there. Happy for him, that’s quite an honor for a young pitcher that’s got less than two years experience in the big leagues.” 
Young heating up at plate
D-backs outfielder Chris Young is capable of hitting almost anywhere in the starting lineup. Young not only has experience in the leadoff spot, but throughout the middle part of the order as well. 
On Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants, Young was penciled in manager Kirk Gibson’s leadoff spot. In the bottom of the first, Young unloaded on a Madison Bumgarner pitch and smacked it into the lawn seating in left-center field. 
After walking in his second at bat, Young laced another extra base hit in the fifth inning, this time a double off of Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota. 
With two more hits against the Giants, Young is heating up at the plate this Spring, hitting .316 with two home runs and five doubles. The recent success has been the result of a calm approach and plenty of work for Young.
“Just trying to see the ball,” Young said. “I’ve been working a lot on my approach at the plate and in my path with my swing with (Don) Baylor quite a bit. Just trying to stay calm and patient at the plate. I’ve really been trying to see pitches this Spring and not get too aggressive.”
Young’s play earned him All-Star honors in 2010 when he represented the D-backs in Anaheim. He finished the season with impressive numbers including 27 home runs, 91 RBI and 33 doubles. 
Young hopes that consistency at the plate will help him duplicate his 2010 success.
“I did kind of find my swing per say last year, and it’s a better feeling going into the offseason knowing what you feel like you need to work on,” Young said. “This offseason I stuck with my approach, and I feel like I have it down better right now even than I did last year. So hopefully I’ll get good results from it.”  

Upton, Young Give Cricket a Try


Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Salvatore
If Justin Upton and Chris Young were born in England or India or the Trobriand Islands rather than the exotic locales of Virginia and Texas, they might be swinging a different kind of bat.
Back in February, Upton and Young tried the sport that has some similarities — and some vast differences — to the sport with which they make their livelihood.
Aditya Thyagarajan and Abhimanyu Rajp, players on the U.S. national cricket team, came to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to give the D-backs outfielders a lesson in the sport, and give them a chance to go deep.
Jim Caple of ESPN.com was on hand to document the meeting:


My favorite part of that video? At least one of their teammates thought it was as much fun as they did. Perhaps learning how to be a bowler, as they call it in cricket, D-backs pitcher Barry Enright shows up around the 2:30 mark shooting some video.
It was a fun afternoon, and Upton and Young developed a new respect for the hugely popular international sport.
Photographer Jordan Megenhardt was on the scene to capture some images.


Pitchers, Catchers Have Last Workouts Before Full Squad Reports


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.”