As soon as the starting rotation began to show some warts for the
first time all season, so did the club's offense in critical situations.
Somehow, both recent flaws have failed to sink the Diamondbacks, but
if they don't get it straightened out soon, there definitely could be
some gloom and doom on the horizon.
The most troubling aspect has been the club's batting average with
runners in scoring position. Since June 5, they were hitting just .175
in those situations and yet surprisingly went 12-11 during that span.
"We're in a funk as far as that goes," manager Bob Melvin said.
"You've got to get some big hits to win games, especially against good
pitching. ... We just have to be better as far as our timing goes."
One player who has been delivering, yet still has underperformed all
season, is outfielder Carlos Quentin. He entered the week still
struggling to find his groove, hitting just .220, but has managed to drive in
runs lately when batters ahead of him get on base.
"The thing that's really amazing is the amount of success he's had
with men in scoring position, getting in men from third with less than
two out," Diamondbacks hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. "He can throw
up an excellent at-bat every single time. We talked about taking that
mind-set into every at-bat instead of just when it really matters with
Quentin opened the season on the disabled list after it was learned
he had a small labrum tear in his shoulder.
"I think it set him back quite a bit," Seitzer said. "He went out
for a few days and then came back and got off to a slow start. Started
questioning, doubting, worrying, pressing, trying to do too much. He's
just been struggling. He's been having a hard time with his pitch
selection, swinging at a lot of pitches that are out of the zone. Getting
himself in the hole and putting balls into play that aren't necessarily
good pitches to drive.
"It's not that he's trying to swing at the first thing that's
thrown. He's always been an aggressive, early-count swinger and at this level
pitchers can throw pitches that look like good pitches to hit that
aren't actually good pitches to hit. We keep working, keep talking.
"The one thing in this game is sometimes when you try too hard it
makes it worst. It's a game where you have to try easy, stay controlled,
stay aggressive, stay disciplined. Sometimes it's easier said than done
to execute all of that."
GIANTS 13, D-BACKS 0: San Francisco roughed up rookie right-hander
Micah Owings to the tune of seven runs and eight hits, forcing him out
of the game after just four innings in a game in which he was clearly outpitched by another rookie, Tim Lincecum. Lincecum (3-2) struck out 12
batters, the most by a Giants rookie in 32 years, and Barry Bonds added
his 2,900th career hit and 377th double, moving him past his
godfather, Willie Mays, and into sole possession of first place on the Giants'
Lincecum pitched seven scoreless innings and the Giants got four
RBIs from Ryan Klesko and a three-run homer from Bengie Molina. The rout
enabled the Giants to take the three-game series, two games to one, as
Arizona moves on to St. Louis for the start of a four-game series on
--2B Orlando Hudson and RHP Jose Valverde were named to the National
League All-Star team, Hudson by a vote from the players and Valverde,
Arizona's closer, by NL All-Star manager Tony La Russa. It's the first
time since 2002 the Diamondbacks have had more than one player
selected. RHP Brandon Webb is one of five candidates for the NL's All-Star
--OF Eric Byrnes on disrupting Barry Bonds' potential 751st career
home run when he leapt in right field on June 30 and nearly caught the
ball, which ended up bouncing off his glove and then the wall before
going for a double: "I knew he crushed it. But just the way the ball
wasn't traveling. ... As soon as he hit it, I thought without a doubt it was
going to be a home run. But then I just kind of saw it dying out there
and leaped for it."
--RHP Jose Valverde entered the week having gone four straight
appearances without allowing a hit or a walk and converting all four save
opportunities to extend his career-high season total to 26. He had allowed
just six base runners in his previous 10 outings combined.
--The Diamondbacks entered the week batting .235 (153 for 648) with
runners in scoring position -- 15th in the National League.
--Arizona went 14-13 in June, its first winning record in that month
since the 2003 club went 20-6. That's the best mark the club has ever
had in June.
--A Diamondbacks' front-office official quickly dispelled a report
out of the Miami area that Arizona might be dangling outfield prospect
Justin Upton to the Marlins in exchange for LHP Dontrelle Willis.
BY THE NUMBERS: .205 -- The Diamondbacks' average with runners in
scoring position, through July 1 against the five clubs they'd played
this season that entered the week with records above .500 -- the Dodgers,
Padres, Phillies, Mets and Red Sox. Arizona had a .255 RISP average
against all other clubs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes late in games, when I come up to
pinch-hit, I have better swings and am more selective at the plate. I don't know
what the reason is. I should have the same approach all game." -- C
Miguel Montero, whose first five home runs this season were in a
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