Once again, it’s the bullpen to the rescue.
Traversing from through the dramatic turnaround of last season’s nightmare to this season’s guiding light, the boys in the pen have helped transformed this team, and placed the club within sight of the National League West Division title.
In a night where the offense sputtered and managed only a three run, first tinning home run from Miguel Montero, and a single tally in the sixth as its only offense, starter Josh Collmenter and the bullpen picked up the rest of the squad.
The result was a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies before 23,062 at Chase Field. The win was the D-backs ninth victory in a row and 12 straight at home. With the Giants defeating the Cubs, the Arizona lead in National League West Division remained at six games.
The 12 game, home winning streak is a franchise record and second longest home winning streak in the majors this season behind the Indians’ 14 from April 3-May 10.
The D-backs and Giants now meet head-on this coming holiday weekend Sept. 2-4 for three games at AT&T Park.
During the nine game winning streak, the pitching staff has been exceptional. Starters in this span posted a 1.05 ERA, and the bullpen had a 1.71 ERA. Plus, the team remains undefeated (71-0) when leading after eight innings.
“We knew the bullpen was shaky last year, and didn’t know what to expect coming into this season,” Collmenter said. “They have certainly turned it around to the point we have a luxury after six innings. We can turn to one of several in different situations, and that’s very reassuring.”
In improving to 9-8 on the season, Collmenter turned in six solid innings before giving way to Joe Paterson in the seventh. Leading 3-2, the 25 year-old from Homer, Mich. allowed five hits, two runs and threw 85 pitches. That was the fewest pitch count in a game in which Collmenter went six or more innings since 76 pitches against the Braves at home May 19.
From there, Bryan Shaw finished the eighth, David Hernandez pitched a scoreless eighth and J. J. Putz closed the curtain with his 35th save of the season.
“The pitchers have been just great,” said Montero. “They make my job easier. When I handle a game, I want to make them feel comfortable. As a team right now, we’re doing the little things right, and that leads to playing good and winning baseball.”
For most of the season, manager Kirk Gibson reminds fans and media that baseball is a collective game of players picking one another up, and having contributions from starters to those on the bench.
Case in point was the finale against the Rockies Aug. 31. Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Aaron Hill doubled with two outs in the sixth. After an intentional walk to Gerardo Parra, Sean Burroughs came off the bench and delivered with a pinch-hit, RBI single up the middle.
That created a two run cushion and from that point, the bullpen proceeded to turn out the lights.
“Just feels good to contribute,” Burroughs said. “This was a great win for the team and a good example of everyone picking up for each other.”
AFL BACK FOR 20th SEASON
The Arizona Fall League, considered the “graduate school” of Major League Baseball, begins operation in early October, and the Diamondbacks will participate as part of the Salt River Rafters.
Joining the D-backs to form the Rafters are representatives from the Astros, Dodgers, Rockies and Tigers. Home games are scheduled for the Diamondbacks’ spring training facility at the Salt River complex near the Indian Bend exchange of the 101.
The rest of the six team league includes the Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Orioles, Pirates, Twins, White Sox), the Peoria Javelinas (Brewers, Cardinals, Mets, Mariners, Padres), the Phoenix Desert Dogs (A’s, Blue Jays, Indians, Reds, Yankees), the Scottsdale Scorpions (Giants, Angels, Nationals, Phillies, Red Sox), and the Surprise Saguaros (Braves, Marlins, Rangers, Rays and Royals).
Representing the D-backs are a pair of right-handed pitchers, Charles Brewer and, Eric Smith, infielders David Nick and Ryan Wheeler, and outfielder Adam Eaton.
Baseball fans will have an opportunity to see two of the top prospects in teh game. Bryce Harper, Washington’s first round selection a year ago, will play for Scottsdale, while outfielder Mike Trout (Angels) suits up for Scottsdale as well.
The Salt River Rafters play their first game Tues. Oct. 2 at Peoria, and have their first home game the next day against Peoria at 12:30 p.m.
In all, they will play 19 games at Salt River and three, Oct. 21, Oct. 28 and Nov. 11, at night. The night games are all on Friday.
The Rafters will be managed by Stu Cole, who managed the Rockies’ AAA Colorado Spring Sky Sox this season.
10th ANNIVERSARY REUNION
The Diamondbacks’ organization will honor the 2001 World Championship team during a reunion weekend, Sept. 9-11.
The D-backs will wear throw-back jerseys of the 2001 team on Friday Sept. 9, and will engage in a ceremony prior to the Sept. 10 game.
Scheduled to appear for the Sept. 10 on-field event are Jerry Colangelo, Rich Dozer, Joe Garagiola, Jr. ,Bob Brenly, Glen Sherlock, Bob Welch, Brian Anderson, Danny Bautista, Jay Bell, Troy Brohawn, Greg Colbrunn, Jason Conti, Midre Cummings, David Dellucci, Erubiel Durazo, Robert Ellis, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace, Ken Huckaby, Randy Johnson, Mike Koplove, Albie Lopez, Matt Mantei, Damian Miller, Chad Moeller, Mike Mohler, Lyle Overbay, Bret Prinz, Armando Reynoso, Erik Sabel, Reggie Sanders, Curt Schilling, Junior Spivey, Greg Swindell, and Matt Williams.
The D-backs also schedule a Salute to 9/11 on Sunday Sept. 11, and a tee-shirt giveaway to commemorate the day.
OUT OF THE LINEUP
The Rockies scratched shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the finale against the D-backs Aug. 31.
According to manager Jim Tracy, Tulowitzki is suffering from a sore left wrist. With the night off and a scheduled day off Sept. 1., Tulowitzki is scheduled back in the lineup Sept. 2 at San Diego.
A larger consideration is Tulowitzki’s numbers against the Diamondbacks. Prior to the Aug. 30 game at Chase Field, Tulowitzki was 30-144 (.208) lifetime against Arizona and 4-27 (.145) this season. In the Aug. 30 game against starter Wade Miley and three other D-backs pitchers, Tulowitzki went 0-5, including two strikeouts.
In the Aug. 31 game, Tulowizki came up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and represented the tying run. He promptly struck out on three pitches against Putz to end the contest.