Blog Entry

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

Posted on: May 29, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 9:15 pm
Nobody ever remembers who was in first place on Memorial Day, and for good reason.

The last three World Series champions didn't lead their division on Memorial Day. Of the 30 teams that won division titles over the last five years, only 15 were in first place on Memorial Day -- and two of those were only tied for first.

So first place on Memorial Day means nothing?

Well, it's better than first place at the end of April, and we always make a big deal out of that. It's better than first place one week into the season, and we always seem to think that's significant.

In fact, if the Diamondbacks had begun the season 14-2, we'd be calling them the surprise of baseball.

Instead, they've won 14 of their last 16 -- the first team to win 14 of 16 at any point this year -- and they'll reach Monday's Memorial Day meeting with the Marlins as the first-place team in the National League West.

Don't tell them it doesn't mean anything. Before Sunday, the Diamondbacks hadn't held first place since late in the 2008 season.

Don't tell Zach Duke it doesn't mean anything. As outstanding Diamondbacks PR man Shaun Rachau pointed out on Twitter, this is the first time Duke has been on a first-place team at any time after April 10 -- because he spent his first six seasons with the Pirates.

The Pirates have been something of a surprise themselves this year, but they still haven't held first place by themselves for a single day. And they haven't been in first place on Memorial Day since 1991.

A few more facts about the Diamondbacks, and their Kirk Gibson/Kevin Towers-fueled revival:

-- They're 18-9 in May, best in the National League and second only to the Red Sox in the majors.

-- With two games remaining in the month, the D-Backs still have a chance at the third 20-win month in franchise history. And no, neither one came in the 2001 championship season. Arizona went 20-8 in August 1999, and 20-6 in June 2003.

-- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Duke became just the second pitcher ever to throw seven shutout innings and hit a home run in his first game for a team. The other was Jason Jennings, who threw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run in his big-league debut for the Rockies.

-- We shouldn't forget that Towers built the bullpen that helped the Padres to their surprise 2010 season (although he wasn't there to enjoy it). Now, Towers has rebuilt a Diamondbacks bullpen that was a major-league laughingstock in 2010. Arizona's bullpen ERA is 3.33, which isn't anywhere close to last year's 5.74.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Diamondbacks were one of baseball's best teams in May. Anibal Sanchez was one of baseball's best pitchers, with a 3-0 record and 1.53 ERA for the month. So it's fitting matchup for the final day of May, with Sanchez starting for Florida in Marlins at Diamondbacks, Tuesday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks starter is Ian Kennedy, who is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in May.

2. The last time the Rangers saw the Rays, they were facing David Price in Game 5 of the American League Division Series. That night in St. Petersburg, the Rangers had Cliff Lee on their side, and they won. The Rangers will see Price again, in Rangers at Rays, Wednesday afternoon (1:40 ET) at Tropicana Field. No Lee, but Colby Lewis will start for Texas. One thing in the Rangers' favor: Wednesday is June 1, and June was Josh Hamilton's month last year (.454, 9 home runs, 31 RBI).

3. The Pirates haven't been in first place, but they have been significantly better than they were last year -- especially on the road. Last year, they were just the third team in the last 50 years to fail to win 20 games on the road, joining the 1962 and '63 Mets. The Pirates went 17-64, matching the '63 Mets for the worst road record in the 162-game era. The Pirates are 15-13 on the road this year, heading to New York for a series that includes Pirates at Mets, Wednesday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field. Their starter Wednesday is Kevin Correia, who leads the majors with six road wins. Zach Duke led the 2010 Pirates in road wins, with three.


Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:34 pm

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 9:56 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:54 pm

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:01 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:07 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 6:56 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:58 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 10, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:41 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

Good post RonI40!  The D-Backs CRUSHED a good Marlins team Monday night after Flordia took 3 in S.F. and 2 of 3 in L.A.  We'll be able to tell more Tuesday when Kennedy and Sanchez pitch.

Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:08 am

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

46 homers across the majors today - i'll be banking on the hitters staying hot!

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:17 pm

3 to Watch: The first-place Diamondbacks edition

D-backs are playing great baseball and the reason why they are in first place in the NL West is because of there bullpen, says I said there bullpen. 

Go D-backs!!!!!!!Cool 

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