PHOENIX — The Arizona heat is a fitting setting for the two teams meeting here this weekend.
The Diamondbacks return home Friday after an 8-2 road trip that included three wins by right-hander Zack Greinke and vaulted them 13 games over .500 [url=http://www.authenticstennesseetitans.com/cheap-rashaan-evans-jersey]Rashaan Evans Color Rush Jersey[/url] , tying a season high. NL West rival San Francisco has won seven of its last 11 and is coming in after a 7-3 homestand, its best since the 2012 World Series season.
The Diamondbacks took series victories over the Angels, Pittsburgh and Miami and gained two games on the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers to build a 3 1/2 game division lead. They are a sparkling 21-8 since May 28.
“I can’t think of a day where we played bad really,” multi-tasking Greinke told reporters Thursday, when he pitched seven shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the Marlins while contributing two singles, a stolen base, an RBI and a run.
Greinke became the first pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1969 to have a hit, an RBI and a stolen base in as many as two games in the same season.
“There’s a record every game. You’ve just got to look hard enough for it,” he continued.
The Giants had series victories against Miami, San Diego and Colorado in their homestand, losing the finale to Colorado 9-8 on Thursday.
Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin [url=http://www.washingtoncapitalsteamshop.com/authentic-kody-clark-jersey]Kody Clark Capitals Jersey[/url] , who has had abundant success against the Giants this season, faces San Francisco left-hander Andrew Suarez in the opener of the three-game series Friday.
Paul Goldschmidt, who had three hits and an RBI Thursday, enters the series on a roll. He is batting .404 with seven doubles, nine homers and 22 RBIs in his last 22 games while raising his batting average to a season-high .267. He was as low as .198 on May 22. Goldschmidt has feasted on the Giants this season, going 16-for-33 with seven doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in nine games this year.
Each team has gotten healthier as the second half beckons. Shelby Miller and Robbie Ray rejoined the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation in Miami.
Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner has thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two starts. He has made five starts, four quality starts, after returning from the disabled list June 5 in a 3-2 loss to Arizona at AT&T Park. Right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija could return soon.
“You try to look at the silver lining on these injuries,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters this week.
“It’s going to limit their innings and hopefully we see it as we get into August and September, these guys are still fresh. Throw Cueto in there [url=http://www.steelersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mason-rudolph-jersey]http://www.steelersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mason-rudolph-jersey[/url] , Samardzija. You make 31, 32 starts, it can take a toll on you. Madison has always been able to handle it, I’ll say that. The fact he’s missed a lot of time should help him.”
Corbin, 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA, is 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a two-out, check-swing single to Brandon Belt in a 1-0 victory on April 17, his first career shutout. Corbin gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-2 victory at the Giants on June 5.
He threw seven scoreless innings and a tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in his last outing, a no-decision at Pittsburgh on June 22 in a game the Diamondbacks won 2-1 in 12 innings. Corbin is 7-7 with a 3.07 ERA in 22 career appearances against the Giants, 20 starts. He is 4-3 with a 3.92 ERA at Chase Field this season.
Rookie Suarez, 2-4 with a 4.43 ERA [url=http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrius-guice-jersey]http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrius-guice-jersey[/url] , has made 12 starts this season, 11 since joining the rotation for good on May 1, just before Cueto went out. He made his major league debut in a spot start against Arizona on April 11, giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-3 home loss. Goldschmidt and John Ryan Murphy homered off him in that game.
Suarez is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in five June starts and gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings in his last start, a no-decision in a 5-3 victory over San Diego on Saturday. He is 1-2 with a 6.18 ERA in six road starts this season. He has never pitched in Chase Field.
The Detroit Tigers certainly weren’t supposed to be here at this stage of the major league season. Not at all.
Only a season after finishing 38 games behind in the American League Central with a 64-98 record and a veteran roster led by one of the major league’s highest-paid players in Miguel Cabrera, they’re 36-37 and are right behind Cleveland in the division.
If they can beat the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night, the Tigers — these no-name Tigers — would be at .500 for the first time since early April.
And it’s not so much how they’re doing it — with surprisingly strong pitching and a better-than-expected offense — but the players they’re doing it with. Even with Cabrera out for the rest of the season with a ruptured biceps tendon, they’ve won five in a row and six of eight with a not-well-known cast.
Not that they care.
“We just go out there and try to get every single win. That’s it. We got close (to the Indians) a couple of weeks ago and then we’re here again,” center fielder Leonys Martin told reporters after a three-game weekend sweep of the White Sox in Chicago. “We only care about getting every single game. That’s it.”
The Detroit bullpen has been especially good behind a surprisingly efficient starting pitching staff, allowing only one run and 12 hits in 17 1/3 innings during the five-game streak –and while walking only one and striking out 20.
Closer Shane Greene saved each of the first four games of the streak, and right-handed setup man Joe Jimenez hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 of his last 19 games.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd (4-4) [url=http://www.authenticsdenverbroncos.com/cheap-isaac-yiadom-jersey]Isaac Yiadom Color Rush Jersey[/url] , who opposes Reds right right-hander Sal Romano (3-7) on Tuesday night, was 6-11 with a 5.27 ERA last season, but he has won his last two starts and has trimmed his ERA nearly two runs per game from a year ago to 3.23.
And then there’s left-hander Blaine Hardy (3-1), who had only nine career wins going into this season. He was designated for assignment in spring training and wasn’t claimed by any other team but was brought back to Detroit in May and pitched his way into the rotation. He gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings in beating the White Sox 3-1 on Sunday.
Hardy takes pride in the fact that the Tigers are closing in on a winning record.
“Any team wants to be over .500, it’s kind of a mark that lets you know that you’re playing good baseball,” he said. “When we’re within (a few games) of the Indians, that’s a good sign, especially since we go (to Cleveland for a three-game series next weekend). We can go in there and say we have full control over what the standings will be.
“It’s huge. … We need to try to make a push, and I think we’re doing a good job of it.”
The Reds are making a modest push despite losing two of three last weekend in Pittsburgh and being 16 games out of the National League Central lead. They’ve won four of six, in part because of the way Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are hitting.
Suarez has homered in each of his last two games and is among the NL leaders with 52 RBIs. During an eight-game hitting streak, Suarez is 9-for-29 (.310) with three homers [url=http://www.authenticsjacksonvillejaguars.com/cheap-taven-bryan-jersey]Taven Bryan Color Rush Jersey[/url] , and he’s closing in on a .300 average — he’s currently at .297.
“He’s been one of the best players in the league,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of his third baseman. “He’s always played his position well. He’s a smart player and he’s a very well-rounded baseball player.”
Since May 10, Gennett has raised his average from .301 to .336, with a high of .345, by getting hits in 26 of 33 games. He has a five-hit game, a four-hit game and three three-hit games during that run.
None of the Reds have faced Boyd before, and none of the Tigers have gone against Romano.
In Boyd’s last start, he gave up two runs and three hits in five innings of a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Romano has lost four of his last five decisions but is coming off his best start of the season, limiting the Kansas City Royals to one run and four hits in eight innings of a 5-1 Reds victory.
Both teams had a day off Monday.
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