|Justin Upton: The future is now.|
No one's going to confuse the Arizona Diamondbacks with a contender just yet, but at least the retooled lineup of new manager A.J. Hinch is starting to make some noise. In a marathon day of baseball on Wednesday in Miami, the Snakes scored 17 runs and collected 23 hits, and, more impressively, fought back three different times after facing multi-run deficits.
Despite all their offense, the D-Backs could come away with only a split of their doubleheader with the Marlins (one that started at 2:10 p.m. Arizona time and ended just before 11), losing the first game 8-6 and winning the nightcap 11-9 in 13 innings.
Third baseman Mark Reynolds and right fielder Justin Upton each hit two homers in the second game, and three of the four longballs either tied the game or put the D-Backs in the lead. Upton's homer in the 13th inning with two men on was another one of his titanic blasts. The kid's becoming a must-watch player now that he's holding down the No. 3 slot in the lineup. He may be in that spot for years to come and a perennial all-star for the D-Backs. On the day, Upton finished 5-for-12 with two homers, five runs, and six RBI.
Reynolds, meanwhile, pretty much equaled Upton's offensive output and turned in several nifty defensive plays, as well. In terms of heroics, he hit a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning of game two and then hit a go-ahead, opposite-field blast in the 12th. We all know Reynolds is a home-run hitter, but what was most remarkable about the 25-year-old's day were his five stolen bases. He stole four in the first game and another one late in the second game.
The free-swinger now has 11 dingers (tied for first in the majors among third basemen) and nine steals (third-best among 3Bs, behind noted speedsters Chone Figgins and David Wright). The nine steals already are more than the eight he had in all of 2008, and only two away from the 11 he swiped in his 2007 rookie year. While we're playing the numbers game, it should be pointed out that Reynolds is on pace for 44 homers and 36 steals. Of course, the super-streaky slugger's probably not going to reach either mark, but they would be MVP-type numbers.
With the rock-solid Felipe Lopez leading off, potential future star Gerardo Parra was impressive in the two-hole, Upton batting third, Stephen Drew hitting clean-up, and Reynolds in the fifth spot, manager A.J. Hinch has finally found a lineup that is getting the job done. In the past four games, the Snakes have scored 12, 5, 6, and 11 runs. Those numbers are a far cry from April's woeful run output. If Drew can begin to perform as was expected of the shortstop, the first five hitters in the D-Backs lineup will rival those of any Manny Ramírez-less team in the NL West.
This afternoon, the D-Backs finish up their East Coast swing with yet another game against the Marlins. Here's the slated match-up:
Max Scherzer (1-3, 3.35 ERA) vs. Andrew Miller (1-1, 5.94). Game time is 4:10 p.m. TV: FSN-Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.