D-backs refuse to wilt, instead walk off with win
AUG 13, 2013 12:09a ET
But while staying within 7 1/2 games of the leaders in the National League West, the D-backs did manage to embrace the peculiar ... along with the familiar.
A Monday night date with the Orioles came to an abrupt end when Adam Eaton spanked the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth into the Chase Field, allowing the D-backs to walk off with a 7-6 victory.
“Well ... won,” manager Kirk Gibson said after watching his team blow two more saves, score a run on an interference call at third base and receive clutch home runs from not one but two guys who hadn’t gone yard all season. “That’s the most important thing.”
Yeah, being entertaining may be far less important than winning, but it certainly doesn’t hurt in the middle of August.
After Baltimore powerhouse Chris Davis met a two-out, 3-2, knee-high fastball from left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher and took it from the outside corner into the left-field seats to tie the game at 5 in the eighth, the really cool stuff began.
It kicked into high gear when Arizona catcher Will Nieves, still thriving while Miguel Montero is out, skipped his first homer of the season off the top of the wall in left to give the D-backs another one-run lead after eight.
That, of course, was surrendered in the top of the ninth by Brad Ziegler, allowing the Diamondbacks to claim sole possession of second place (behind the mighty Cubs), in Major League Baseball’s blown-saves race.
So, with the score tied at 6, Eaton -- who said he’d been feeling “a little weak lately” after losing 10 pounds he seemingly can’t afford to lose -- stepped in to lead off the bottom of the ninth against Orioles reliever Darren O’Day.
One pitch later, he'd delivered his first tater of the season.
"I thought I hit a heater,” Eaton told a crowd of reporters visiting his locker after the game, “but they said it was a slider.”
Did he know it was a gone?
“Yeah,” he said. “When you don’t feel anything (in your hands), you know there’s a pretty good chance.”
The Diamondbacks felt something -- joy, based on the raucous postgame celebration -- that made it clear that after a big win over a team 13 games over .500, they still feel there’s a lot of baseball left to play.
Cody Ross, who dislocated his right hip after stumbling while downshifting into first base on Sunday, is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday morning to repair a small fracture in the hip that accompanied a dislocation.
“It’s going to be long,” Gibson said of the trip back to health for Ross. “I don’t see how he can be back this year. It’s kind of a traumatic injury.”
How did Ross -- who blew out his knee running to first -- handle this setback?
“He was like, 'Another blip in the road ... I’ll be good.’ That’s his mindset," Gibson said.
Ross' loss was particularly problematic inasmuch as the D-backs also placed Eric Chavez (hip, knee) on the 15-day DL Sunday and were already working without catcher Miguel Montero (lower back strain) and utility ace Willie Bloomquist (left hand contusion).
Gibson is hoping 15 days will be sufficient for a return from Chavez, the D-backs' cleanup hitter for much of the season. He also said Montero could be ready for a minor-league rehab stint by this weekend and gave a similar report for Bloomquist.
In other comeback news, starter Trevor Cahill reportedly looked good in the last three innings of a six-inning rehab performance at Triple-A Reno on Sunday. Cahill, who has been out with a hip injury and shoulder soreness, appears to be a good bet to make his next start, according the manager.
“We always push on,” Gibson said when asked about the message delivered to the surviving, healthy Dbacks.
He recited a short list of successful teams that have endured injuries this season before announcing, “Why can’t it be us?”
And then he was slightly more pragmatic.
“It hurts,” Gibson said of the impact on the franchise’s efforts. “But at the same time, it’s another opportunity for somebody else. We just got to focus on this series and this game tonight.”