The Arizona Diamondbacks are hot on the heels of the Colorado Rockies these days and several players are making major contributions. Defense has been a major player, as the Diamondbacks have turned a major league-leading 39 double plays and were tied with the Padres for the best fielding percentage (.989) in the National League.
Third baseman Chad Tracy has now homered in three straight games, hitting a solo shot (his sixth of the season) off Cubs starter Rich Hill in the third inning. The Diamondbacks record for hitting homers in consecutive games is four, which has been set six times, the last by Troy Glaus in 2005.
RHP Jose Valverde, whose eight saves were tied for third in the National League, had pitched in three consecutive games and manager Bob Melvin said in advance he had planned to give his closer the night off Thursday, regardless of the situation.
The Atlanta Braves are not putting the ball in play enough as in evidence by the 173 strikeouts their hitters have compiled. You know the hitters are struggling when pitcher John Thomson entered May with an ERA of 1.32 and did not have a single win to show for it.
The Cubs Carlos Zambrano was thought to be a CY Young candidate this year but he has been miserable and his record sits at 0-2. He has started 7 games and pitched 40 innings which is less then six per game. He does have 48 strikeouts during this span, but has walked an alarming 28 batters with a skyrocketing WHIP 1.60.
The Cubs have been swept by Arizona and San Diego on this nine-game road trip, and have lost seven in a row. Chicago has scored only 12 runs in its last 10 games.
The Mets visit Philadelphia and that means Billy Wagner will return to his former nest. After two seasons with the Phillies (17-14) in which he totaled 59 saves in 66 opportunities, Wagner bolted via free agency to the Mets (21-10), whose four-year, $43 million contract contained a no-trade clause throughout the life of the deal as opposed to Philadelphia’s three-year, $30 million offer, which had a no-trade clause for the first two seasons.
Wagner, who has converted seven saves in 10 opportunities, hopes to get an opportunity to close for staff ace Pedro Martinez (5-0, 2.72 ERA). Martinez, who has never pitched at Citizens Bank Park, is 7-4 with a 2.85 ERA lifetime against the Phillies, including a 2-1 record while pitching for the Mets.
The right-hander, though, saw his first attempt for a sixth win in 2006 go by the wayside Wednesday, when Wagner allowed two ninth-inning runs before the Mets rallied for a 4-3, 12-inning victory.
The Phillies are enjoying their longest winning streak since a 13-game run from July 30-Aug. 12, 1991, and have won eight of their last 10 at home to even their record at Citizens Bank Park to 10-10.