The doctor made a visit to Chase Field Monday night, and found slight movement on the Diamondbacks life-support monitor. Nothing active, but an occasional and faint beep could be heard.
For a team buried in National League West, 24 games under .500 prior to Monday night’s game with the Mets, and 20 1/2 game out of the division lead, talk already began as this team being “spoilers.” At this stage of the season, just after the all-star break, that’s a pretty grim confession.
Still, the D-Backs have 70 games still to play this season, and any discussion of less than playing competitively for the division lead reeks of quitting on the fans, the season and the franchise.
So the D-Backs responded Monday night with an unusual burst of energy. Jumping on New York starter Mike Pelfrey for four runs in the first and two more in the second, the D-Backs eventually cruised to a 13-2 win over the Mets before 18,253 at Chase Field.
“This team is frustrated,” said Kirk Gibson, the D-Backs manager. “Before the game, we were very specific on creating an image, and feeding off that image. See what we did in this game, and remember. Then, carry over that image to the next time at bat, the next critical situation, and recall how you took control. That’s what we want from each player.”
After the D-Backs jumped on Pelfrey early, they added a five spot in the sixth. That frame was highlighted by a three run jack from Mark Reynolds, who had a three hit night. For the game, Chris Young chipped in with three hits and three runs scored, and catcher Miguel Montero and first baseman Adam LaRoche each had a three hit night
Reynolds’ four RBIs on the night tied a season high. The 18 hits in the game was a season-high for the D-Backs. That’s two short of the team mark of 20, accomplished twice.
“Right now, I’m working on a few things to turn this around,” said Reynolds, who entered the game hitting .215 and struck out 127 times. “I don’t want to get into this too much, but I’m not changing much. Just working on stuff to get better.
In the process, Pelfrey made the earliest exit of his five year career with the Mets. Pelfrey lasted just 1 and 1.3 innings and the six runs he allowed represented the most he surrendered since 6 in an 11-0 loss to the Phillies May 1.
For D-Backs starter Ian Kennedy, the win was his second in a row (now 5-7), and that represented only the second time this season for that feat. Previously, he picked up wins in back-to-back starts and beat the Cubs and Astros on April 29 and May 4. Just before the all-star game, Kennedy gained a 5-4 win over the Marlins July 10 and now the win Monday against the Mets.
“I’m aware of the innings I’ve pitched, and looking now to get six, maybe seven,” Kennedy said. “At the end of the season, I’ll likely approach that magic number, though I’m not sure what that might be. We’ll see how things go, and how my outings go.”
For now, Kennedy is likely stopped at 90 or so pitches, and the days of 100 pitches could be behind. With the five innings against the Mets, that puts Kennedy at 116 and 1/3 innings for the season, and could be on track for that 200 inning season.
Kennedy lasted those five innings and left with his pitch count at 86, 52 for strikes. Over the past few weeks, Gibson said he was concerned about the number of innings out of Kennedy, and said he would address the issue of extended innings and pitches.
“(Kennedy) knows what we’re trying to accomplish,” Gibson added. “I thought he was fine for five innings, and we have a bullpen that needs work. With the bullpen, we’ll continue to develop roles and I wanted to turn the game over the pen from the sixth inning going forward.”
The Mets series continues with Barry Enright (1-3, 3.43) takes on the Mets’ R. A. Dickey (6-3, 2.63)Tuesday night, and the three game set concludes Wednesday night with Dan Haren (7-8, 4.60) going against Jonathan Niese (6-4, 3.64 ERA). Then the Giants visit Chase Field for games this Thursday through Sunday.