Series Review: Diamondbacks Sweep Nats
Livan Hernandez (Getty Images)

Posted Apr 9, 2007


OK, so sweeping the Washington Nationals is about the least impressive series sweep a team could make, seeing as how most people expect the Nats to lose 110+ games this year. But great teams win the games that they are supposed to, and at the very least, this year's Arizona Diamondbacks haven't done anything to disprove the possibility that they are indeed a great team.

Thursday - DIAMONDBACKS 4, NATIONALS 3: The Diamondbacks snapped a career 0-6 skid in Washington in the opener, holding off the Nationals to win their first game ever at RFK Stadium. After blowing consecutive eighth-inning leads three times there last season, Arizona held on with some top-notch relief pitching behind starter Edgar Gonzalez. Closer Jose Valverde notched his second save. Second baseman Orlando Hudson hit his first homer of the season.

Friday - DIAMONDBACKS 7, NATIONALS 1: Arizona won its third straight after dropping its first two games in Colorado, and it was led by rookie right-hander Micah Owings, who allowed just one hit over five shutout innings to win his major league debut. Owings fanned six during a 96-pitch outing, highlighted by striking out Ryan Zimmerman on three pitches with the bases loaded in his final frame. The Nationals gave the Diamondbacks a few extra at-bats with some sloppy play, and Arizona made them pay for the most part. The biggest hit of the game was a three-run homer by Diamondbacks rookie center fielder Chris Young, his first of the season.

Saturday - DIAMONDBACKS 7, NATIONALS 1: Brandon Webb bounced back from a rough opening day start with a dominant 7-inning performance, despite bone-chilling temperatures in Washington.  The Diamondbacks' ace held the Nationals scoreless through five innings, and finished with eight K's and eleven ground ball outs.  Eric Byrnes continued his hot start by twice driving in runs with two outs, and Tony Clark impressed with a 3-hit performance in a spot start for Conor Jackson.  The team totaled eleven hits and five walks, and Arizona position players only fanned twice. 

Sunday - DIAMONDBACKS 3, NATIONALS 1: Right-hander Livan Hernandez no-hit his former team for 5 2/3 innings and settled on a three-hitter over seven innings as the Diamondbacks completed a four-game sweep at RFK Stadium -- just the fourth time they've swept a club in four games in franchise history. Orlando Hudson's RBI double and Scott Hairston's RBI single staked Hernandez to a 2-0 first-inning lead. Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his third save in four tries.

Manager Bob Melvin said of the sweep and a 5-2 road trip the open the season, "Winning four here, that was huge. We were one pitch away from winning another game in Colorado. We'll take it. Anytime you play over .500 on the road, you'll take it."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Arizona drew 24 walks during its season-opening 5-2 road trip, a fact not lost on manager Bob Melvin, who said, "That's something we've tried to press upon them since the first day of spring training. Battle in the at-bats, pass the baton and try to get as many guys on base."

--After going 5-2 on their season-opening seven-game trip, the Diamondbacks finally got to shake off the cold and wind they felt in Denver and Washington for the warmth of 80-degree temperatures back home in Phoenix. "Would we prefer to be at home?" Manager Bob Melvin asked. "Yeah. But I don't make the schedules and I know there's a reason for it. The schedule makers have a lot more to think about other than just the first few games of the season. I try not to think too much about it. I just go about my business on that day and try to win a game."

--Manager Bob Melvin got all of his bench players actively involved during the first trip of the season, something he's always been a big proponent of doing. "Really, for the most part, you like to try to get everybody in a game or maybe even a start in the first week of the season," he said. "Bench players are never more ready to play than they are when spring training ends and you want to try to keep that edge. You want everybody to feel involved. It's a 25-man team."

--Whether it is Arizona's pitching and defense or simply their own ineptitude, the Nationals went 0-for-29 with runners in scoring position during their four-game series with Arizona before finally cashing in during the eighth inning of Game 4. Washington ended the series going 2 for 33 overall.

--RHP Livan Hernandez was rocked throughout spring training, posting a 13.06 ERA. But after his first two starts of the regular season, he's 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and has looked extremely sharp. "As soon as the bell rang, he pitched well," manager Bob Melvin said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13-0 -- Rookie right-hander Micah Owings' personal win streak, dating back to last season, when he pitched for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Tucson, and to now, when he won his major-league debut at Washington on April 6.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's always important to get off to a good start. You set the tone, especially when you're playing a lot of teams in our division this month. It'll be good to get out to a good start, get the ball rolling and hopefully set a tone for the season." -- Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder on Arizona going 5-2 to finish a season-opening, seven-game road trip.



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 -by DiamondbacksDaily.com  Apr 3, 2007
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