Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson has benched the struggling Justin Upton for three of the last five games, and it may only be a coincidence his squad has won each contest Upton has sat out.
Whatever the reason, Arizona is hot.
The Diamondbacks seek their fifth win in their last six contests in Friday night’s opener of a three-game set with the visiting Oakland Athletics, who are coming off their first series victory in a month.
Gibson maintains the recent scratches are simply to help Upton, who has called at least one of the nights off “unproductive.”
Upton, 4 for 28 in his last seven games to drop his average to .243, went 0 for 4 in his most recent action in Monday’s 4-0 loss to Colorado. Arizona (27-30) beat the Rockies by a combined 16-1 Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He’s a very important part of our team, we all know that, and we’re going to try to get him back on track,” Gibson said.
It’s unclear if Upton will be in the lineup Friday, though it seems safe to say Paul Goldschmidt will be.
Goldschmidt extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games Wednesday by going 3 for 4 with a homer, two doubles and three RBIs in a 6-1 win.
The first baseman is hitting .431 with five homers during his streak. He was batting .223 with two homers in 34 games before that.
“Obviously, it’s nice to get a little momentum, but we’ve got to continue to play well,” Goldschmidt said. “As a whole we haven’t been able to put it together for an extended amount of time.”
The D-backs will send Daniel Hudson (2-1, 4.65 ERA) to the mound Friday as they look to keep rolling.
Hudson is coming off his best start of the season, allowing two runs in eight innings of a 4-2 win at San Diego on Saturday. It was just his fifth start this year and his second since a stint on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.
“The Huddy of old,” Gibson said. “He threw great. I didn’t want to take the game away from him, so I stayed with him.”
The right-hander allowed five runs in five innings in his only career start against Oakland — a 6-4 loss while pitching for the Chicago White Sox on July 25, 2010.
The Athletics (26-32) likely won’t start slugger Yoenis Cespedes after he strained his hamstring in Thursday’s 7-1 win over Texas. Manager Bob Melvin said he hopes Cespedes will be available for pinch-hitting duty over the weekend.
Still, Oakland took three of four from the two-time defending AL champions — its first series win since taking two of three at Tampa Bay from May 4-6 — and has won four of six since dropping nine straight May 22-June 1.
“To be able to take three out of four, with the struggles that we’ve seen here recently is a big lift,” Melvin said. “We played all facets this series.”
Melvin hopes the A’s can provide a little more support for Tommy Milone (6-5, 3.53) this time around after he lost each of his last two starts 2-0. He allowed four runs over 13 2-3 innings against the New York Yankees and Kansas City.
The left-hander has received three runs of support in 27 2/3 innings while going 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA over his last four starts.
“You give up two runs, you keep your team in the game with a chance to win,” Melvin said. “You expect to score at least two runs every ballgame.”
This marks the first series between the clubs in Arizona since 2008.