Because they have penchant to make things interesting, too bad the Diamondbacks remain on life-support for post-season play.
With nearly double digits behind the National League West Division-leading Dodgers and half that margin behind Cincinnati for the second wild-card position, the D-backs continue to still push the excitement mode. They added to their major league leading come-from-behind victories by beating the San Diego Padres 10-9 in 10 innings before 19,807 Tuesday night in Chase Field.
The kudos in this one belong to Aaron Hill, who lined a single with no outs in the 10th to score Adam Eaton with the game winner.
The win was the D-backs 15th victory in 20 extra inning games, and that represents one game short of the franchise record for extras. That was 21 games set in 1999.
“A win is a win, and this was a total team effort,” Hill said after driving in Adam Eaton with the winning run. “We keep battling back, and this is fun. It’s great to see this rewarded for good things.”
The D-backs overcame two valiant San Diego charges to tie the game at 7-7 in the eighth and 9-9 in the ninth.
In fact, the Padres had a change to forge into a lead but Martin Prado’s spectacular grab of a screaming line drive off the bat of Jedd Gyorko with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth kept to game going.
“In that situation, you have to guard the line,” Prado said. “You can have to be careful and make sure you’re in a position to make a play.”
Lost in the late emotion was the major league debut of left-hander David Holmberg. Recalled from Triple A Mobile, Holmberg was shaky in the first inning, but then settled down.
The first five batters he faced reached base and three scored. From that no out situation in the first, Holmberg proceeded to retire nine of the next 10 hitters he faced, and left with the score tied at 3-3.
“Excited,” was the way Holmberg described his emotion walking to the mound and starting the game. “Yeah, the nerves were there but after the first pitch, I settled in. Good to see the guys come back and I know this is a team which backs everyone up.”
Prior to the game, manager Kirk Gibson said he was not sure if this would be Holmberg’s only start. “Let’s get through this and then we’ll see,” the manager offered.
For the effort, Eaton finished with a 3-for-5 night and two runs scored while Prado reached base four times (single, double, two walks) and had three RBIs. His season total is now 71 knocked in and that’s a career best.
Gerardo Parra contributed with a 2-for4 night and a career best 5 RBIs, including a three run homer off former teammate Ian Kennedy in the second inning, and a bases loaded single off Kennedy that scored a pair in the fifth.
With David Holmberg starting Tuesday night, his roster spot was created when the Diamondbacks released outfielder Jason Kubel.
In the proper, political terminology, the Diamondbacks said Kubel was designated for assignment. In reality, Kubel is completing a two year deal with the D-backs and the issues of injuries and a traffic jam in the outfield pointed to his exit.
Before the 2012 season, Kubel signed a two year deal at $7.5 million for each season. That was $13 million and if the Diamondbacks wanted to keep Kubel for 2014, that’s another $7.5 mil. Instead, they owe Kubel a $1 million buyout for next season.
In the meantime, Kubel fell victim to a nagging knee injury from spring training, and appeared in 89 of the D-backs 130 games through Monday night.
When he released Tuesday, Kubel was hitting was .220, five home runs and 32 RBIs.
“With Jason, it was self-explanatory,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Tuesday’s game. “He’s had a great career to this point and we wish him well. He is a great teammate and I’m sure he can help someone going forward.”
In the end, Kubel was caught in both a traffic jam in the outfield and a changed direction.
Beginning with the San Diego series Monday night, Gibson utilized speed at the top of the lineup. In this regard, he had Tony Campana leading off in centerfield and Adam Eaton hitting second in left.
With Gerardo Parra in right and A. J. Pollock, a solid right-handed bat off the bench, there was no room for Kubel’s injuries and marginal season.
When the Diamondbacks clubhouse closed to the media prior to batting practice Tuesday, hitting coach Don Baylor pulled up a chair next to Kubel and quietly entered a dialogue. Kubel did not speak very much, listened and shook his head in agreement to which Baylor conveyed.
FALL LEAGUE ROSTERS IN PLACE
Rosters for the Arizona Fall League, considered “the graduate school” for major league prospects, was announced Tuesday.
The Diamondbacks are part of the Salt River Rafters, and players from the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rays and Rockies’ organizations also contribute to composition of this team.
Other teams include the Glendale Desert Dogs (Dodgers, Marlins, Reds, Twins, White Sox), the Mesa Solar Sox (Angels, A’s, Cubs, Nationals, Tigers), the Peoria Javelinas (Astros, Mariners, Padres, Phillies, Royals), Scottsdale Scorpions (Braves, Giants, Mets, Pirates, Yankees), and Surprise Saguaros (Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox).
Players from the D-backs organization named to Salt River are right-handed pitcher Jake Barrett, who played at Double A Mobile, left-hander Andrew Chafin (Mobile), right-handed reliever Matt Stites (Mobile and acquired from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy deal), infielders Nick Ahmed (Mobile), Michael Freeman (Mobile) and Jake Lamb (High A Visalia).
Freeman was designated for the “taxi squad,” and is eligible to play only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Opening Day is Tuesday October 8.