The Arizona Diamondbacks came back from the All-Star Game break, but apparently didn’t bother to bring their bats with them. The first game after the break looked ominously like the last four before it. Arizona scored only a single run in the ninth inning with the game out of reach as the Anaheim Angels recorded a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks. This was the fifth consecutive loss for Arizona, which has scored only four runs over that stretch. The Diamondback pitching continues to be “good enough to win”, but not good enough to do so with no offensive support. Anaheim scored three unearned runs in the first inning and that was enough against the suddenly punchless D-Backs.
Curt Schilling stopped the five-game Diamondback losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Angels in the second game of the series. Schilling has been the man of the hour all season when the D-Backs needed a stopper. The big right-hander improved his best in the majors record to 13-4. Luis Gonzales and Mark Grace homered as the Diamondbacks scored more runs than they had managed during the entire five game losing streak.
The final game of the Angel series was one of the Diamondbacks’ finest wins. After trailing 4-0 early, Arizona stormed back for a 7-5 victory. Third baseman Matt Williams showed he is back and ready to contribute. Williams had three hits, including a game-winning double in the ninth inning. Jay Bell hit a game-tying homer after Anaheim had regained a 5-4 lead. Slump-plagued D-Backs Tony Womack and Steve Finley each had multiple important hits. B.K. Kim was effective again in the closer role.
The Seattle Mariners improved on their best in the majors record by beating the Diamondbacks 8-0 in the series opener on July 16. Aaron Sele held the D-Backs to only two harmless hits.
Arizona came back to win the second game 5-3 and even the series. Miguel Batista won for the first time as a starter with brilliant relief work from Greg Swindell, Bret Prinz and B.K. Kim saving the day. Reggie Sanders, Damien Miller and Steve Finley homered early to give the D-Backs a 5-0 lead. Then it was up to the bullpen to hang on to the victory.
The Mariners took the rubber game of the series 6-1. Seattle made the most of its opportunities while the Diamondbacks squandered all of theirs. Even the rally in which Arizona scored was aborted by a base-running error. Several base-running blunders and a lack of clutch hitting spelled another wasted mound effort for Brian Anderson.
A power outage on Wednesday night caused the Diamondback - Padre two-game series to be played as a double header on Thursday. The development turned out to hurt the Diamondbacks. Curt Schilling pitched two perfect innings on Wednesday and Randy Johnson went seven on Thursday, giving up only one hit as Arizona won 3-0. Mark Grace homered in the Wednesday segment of the game and Luis Gonzales clubbed number 37 on Thursday. Johnson tied a National League record of seven consecutive strikeouts by a reliever and set a Major League record for a reliever with 16 K’s, two more than the previous high mark. San Diego won the nightcap though, 8-4. Robert Ellis continued to slip, giving up six runs early. The D-Back bats were silent until the ninth when the game was already decided. The loss cut Arizona’s NL West lead to just 1 1/2 games over the Dodgers.
On Friday, the Diamondbacks started a three game series with the Giants in San Francisco, which concluded the long road trip. A 13-game home stand started on Monday with San Diego in town for a three-game set. The Giants will be in Phoenix on Thursday for four important contests. Montreal follows on Wednesday for a three-game set. The New York Mets will be in Phoenix to conclude the home stand on August 3, 4 and 5.