D-backs take NL West with 3-1 win over Giants
The celebration started on the field, moved into the clubhouse,
then back onto the field. Eventually, for a few players, it ended
in the pool behind the wall in right center for a still-in-uniform
swim that never felt so good.
Predicted to be just another also-ran, the Arizona Diamondbacks
instead are NL West champions – and loving every second of it.
Completing an improbable run to their first division title in
four years, the Diamondbacks rallied to beat the San Francisco
Giants 3-1 Friday night when rookie Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run
triple off Sergio Romo in the eighth inning.
”A lot of people didn’t think we could, but ever since spring
training we felt like we could get it done,” said Arizona center
fielder Chris Young, who squeezed the final out. ”I am happy we
were able to overcome some things. A couple of guys got hurt, we
were able to overcome some obstacles. It has been amazing.”
It sure was.
Playing with the never-give-an-inch intensity of their manager,
the Diamondbacks made Kirk Gibson a winner in his first full season
Arizona completed its worst-to-first turnaround in raucous
fashion, rallying to beat the Giants with Chase Field buzzing as it
rarely did over the past couple of seasons.
It’s no surprise, really.
Arizona has been coming from behind all season, whether it was
from early-season predictions of another last-place finish or down
a run in the late innings.
And, really, to do it again in the clinching game was the only
fitting way for the Diamondbacks to close it out.
Ryan Roberts got the go-ahead burst started with a double off
Matt Cain (12-11) and Goldschmidt capped it with his first career
triple to the corner in right.
David Hernandez (5-3), as he has all season, did his job in the
setup role, striking out two after allowing a one-out single in the
eighth. J.J. Putz, the closer and set-the-example veteran in the
clubhouse, finished it off with his 44th save, sending the
Diamondbacks pouring onto the field and the fans into an
A year after going 65-97, Arizona is 91-66 and heading to the
”I don’t care if it’s your first year or your 10th year, it’s
what you set out to do,” Gibson said.
The Giants still have a lot of work to do.
With the loss, the defending World Series champions are five
games behind Atlanta for the NL wild-card spot with just five games
left despite Orlando Cabrera’s first homer in 124 at-bats since
being traded from Cleveland.
”We are breathing. Five games left, we are still breathing,”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ”That is why there is no need to
talk. We’ve still got baseball.”
Behind Gibson’s attention-to-detail approach and with a roster
of players who seemed to take turns coming through in the clutch,
Arizona celebrated its first division crown since 2007 by mobbing
Putz near the plate. Fireworks shot out of the scoreboard after
Young pulled in the final out and the Diamondbacks, after hugging
and shaking hands on the field, stopped to acknowledge the fans
from just above the dugout.
Champagne flowed inside the clubhouse and out, with a handful of
players returning to shower their families, friends and a few
people in the front row. A few went for more of a bath route,
taking a dip in the only-in-Arizona pool behind the outfield
”This is unbelievable,” Roberts said.
It sure was.
After a pair of 90-loss seasons, Arizona started the season on a
downturn, already 6 1/2 games out of first by the end of April.
Then something clicked.
Arizona went through a magnificent May, closing the month 15-3
to take the NL West lead, and stayed near the top through July. The
Diamondbacks seized control of the division at the end of August
and into September, going up by as much as 9 1/2 games before San
Francisco came charging back with an eight-game winning streak.
But after winning three of four to start this week, Arizona
found itself on the cusp and needing to beat the Giants only once
in the weekend series to pop the corks.
Playing with the same fighting spirit they have all season,
Arizona finally got to Cain in the seventh inning, when the
right-hander walked Goldschmidt with one out and Young followed
with a line-drive double to the wall in left-center to tie the game
”They are a team that really does play until the end,” said
Cain, who allowed three runs on five hits in 7 1-3 innings. ”They
find different guys each night to spark plug the offense.”
This time it was Goldschmidt, who started the season in
With Roberts on third and Justin Upton on first after an
intentional walk, Goldschmidt took and inside-out swing and sent
the ball rattling around in the right-field corner. Roberts scored
easily and Upton made it home with the ball clambering around off
the odd angles.
Chase Field erupted in a roar after Goldschmidt’s hit, which was
only the prelude to the celebration that would come later – one
Arizona fans had been waiting four years for.
”This is what I was hoping to do when I woke up this morning,”
He and about 42,000 other people.