On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, it appeared -- at least on the
surface -- that the Diamondbacks were going to stand pat and resist any
temptation to make a big splash.
Part of that seemed to be because a suitable starting pitcher who might make a serious impact on the team over the final two months of the season never became available. That, or the asking price was simply way too high, as the Diamondbacks are reluctant to part with one or more of their best young prospects, such as outfielders Chris Young, Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez.
If Arizona could acquire a pitching prospect for a few years down the road, however, it was thought the club might be willing to part with one of its right-handed power relief pitchers, such as Greg Aquino or Jose Valverde.
"A lot of times when you think it's going to be quiet, it's not, and when you think it's not, it's quiet," manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday's series finale against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. "It's quiet right now."
Melvin said he thinks his team still has a shot to go to the playoffs, regardless.
"We've shown we can be competitive in our division. We play our best baseball in our division," said Melvin, whose club is 23-17 against the National League West, the best mark of any of the five teams. "All along, I've known the group I have here will battle, and we also feel like there isn't anybody in our division right now we can't compete with."
REPLAY: The Diamondbacks got a game-tying, three-run homer from Eric Byrnes in the eighth inning and a go-ahead, two-run pinch homer by Conor Jackson in the ninth to grab a 7-6 victory over the Astros and spoil a brilliant game by Roger Clemens.
Clemens left after seven innings, having allowed no earned runs and just two hits while striking out nine batters and walking none. But Byrnes hit his 14th homer of the season off reliever Chad Qualls. Jackson, batting with two outs and a runner at first, touched Lidge for his first career pinch homer after going 0-for-17 in that role.
Diamondbacks closer Jorge Julio, who hadn't pitched since blowing back-to-back save opportunities July 23 and 25, allowed two hits in the bottom of the ninth, including a two-out, RBI double to Adam Everett. But Byrnes ranged back to the wall to save the game for Arizona, making a basket catch of a long fly hit to right-center by pinch hitter Eric Munson to preserve the save for Julio.
--1B Tony Clark, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, will play catch Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list nearly two weeks ago. He is eligible to be activated Wednesday while the Diamondbacks are in Chicago, but Clark first will need a rehab assignment, and the team isn't close to sending him out until it knows how his shoulder responds after two or three more days of throwing.
--OF Scott Hairston (right shoulder) was activated from the disabled list Saturday and optioned back to Triple-A Tucson. Hairston hurt his right shoulder June 19 in his first game after getting recalled from the Pacific Coast League, when he crashed into the left field wall trying to catch a fly ball during a makeup game in Pittsburgh.
--SS Craig Counsell won't be able to join the club in Chicago for workouts to test his right rib fracture. He isn't quite ready for baseball activity. The team isn't saying what it plans to do at shortstop once Counsell is healthy. Rookie prospect Stephen Drew has been solid at short since taking over on July 15, starting a nine-game hitting streak two days after his promotion.
--OF Carlos Quentin avoided a major scare Saturday in Houston when his left knee jammed into the turf at Minute Maid Park while making a catch of an Adam Everett flyball. He did an end-over-end somersault.
"Boy, I tell you. Heck of a catch," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's an athletic kid, but for a second I was thinking, 'Please don't be his ankle or his knee.'"
--Opposing batters have been hit nine times by Arizona pitchers after six games of the Diamondbacks' 10-game road trip through Philadelphia, Houston and next, onto Wrigley Field. The Diamondbacks hit at least one hitter in each of their first six games. Miguel Batista plunked three Astros Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
BY THE NUMBERS: 308 -- Assists by second baseman Orlando Hudson, the most in the National League as of July 27.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told him it's going to be a circus. It's hard to get a routine going because it just takes a little while to settle in and get back to the usual stuff. But the first couple weeks, you're pretty much playing on adrenaline anyway." -- First baseman Conor Jackson on teammate Carlos Quentin, a fellow former first-round draft pick in 2003, who recently had his contract purchased from Triple-A Tucson.
SS Craig Counsell went on the disabled list July 15 with a fractured rib. He will be out until at least mid-August.
1B Tony Clark went on the disabled list retroactive to July 17 with a sore right shoulder. He began swinging the bat July 25, his first baseball activity, and took batting practice on July 28. He is scheduled to play catch July 31.
RHP Luis Vizcaino didn't pitch July 24-28 after developing soreness in his elbow. He made a relief appearance July 29.
When Carlos Quentin made his major league debut on July 20th, there was widespread speculation that…