Doug Davis: The Little Unit?

Doug Davis: The Little Unit?

Okay, so at 6'4" and 210 pounds, it's not fair to call Doug Davis a little anything. Size is relative, and the size of the crafty lefty's value to the Arizona Diamondbacks this year has been enormous.

INSIDE PITCH

Doug Davis downplayed it, but whether he wants to believe it or not, the left-hander has managed to fill the void left in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation since five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson went down with season-ending back surgery.

The numbers haven't lied. Since the All-Star break, Davis has been in the midst of the greatest stretch of his career, going 8-1 with a 3.11 ERA over 11 starts, helping the Diamondbacks stay at or near the top of the National League West.

How big has Davis been as the regular season enters its final weeks? "Enormous," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's basically taken over for Randy. I don't know if he's ever pitched this well for a sustained period of time like this."

Davis credits a lot of tools for his recent success, including his reliance on computers and batters' tendencies, which he knows inside and out. He's constantly updating a binder he keeps and a computer program he checks almost daily.

He'll watch his share of video, too, but it's the sheer numbers that seem to work best for him, knowing what to throw to whom in virtually every situation, in every count.

How much does it help?

"A ton," Davis said. "If I go with the numbers, I plan on succeeding 80 percent of the time."

Davis doesn't have an overpowering fastball and may tend to rely more on off-speed stuff, including a wicked curveball, but he can be deceiving, too.

"He can pitch like a power guy because he can get you strikeouts," Melvin said. "He can jam guys. He can throw a ball 86 mph right on somebody's thumbs. Just because you're not a velocity guy doesn't mean you can't pitch in the form of a power guy."

DIAMONDBACKS 4, CARDINALS 2: Brandon Webb broke a two-game slump by earning his 15th victory on Friday, allowing two runs in six innings as the Diamondbacks opened a three-game series against visiting St. Louis with a victory.

The Diamondbacks increased their lead over the Padres to two games in the National League West.

Webb (15-10) walked four batters and struck out five, allowing six hits. Closer Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 42nd save, tops in the majors.

Eric Byrnes went 2-for-4 and hit a double to drive in the winning run from first in the sixth inning. Tony Clark added a home run in the eighth to make it 4-2.

NOTES, QUOTES

--2B Orlando Hudson said an MRI revealed on Thursday that he has a torn ligament in his left thumb, the result of jamming his hand into the bag on Tuesday while stealing third base. Hudson said he hoped to return in a couple of days, adding, "I've got to get in there some way, somehow, to help the team win."

But the Diamondbacks will proceed cautiously and surgery is an option. If Hudson has it, he could be sidelined for at least six weeks before resuming any baseball activity. That effectively would put him out for the season.

"Right now, it's sort of assessing -- can he play with it, any risks we'd be running and how he's feeling," GM Josh Byrnes said. "We're going to give it at least a couple days and then regroup and make more of a decision (later)."

--INF Alberto Callaspo would probably be the player the Diamondbacks turn to first to replace 2B Orlando Hudson if Hudson has surgery on his injured left thumb.

--C Miguel Montero, a rookie, on veteran teammate Livan Hernandez, the Diamondbacks' starting pitcher: "He's a great man. I'm really glad he is here on this team, because he can help me on the field and off the field. He is a guy you can always talk to about things, baseball or not baseball. I'm really glad to have a chance to play with him."


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