This is the time of year that I really have to be careful. With a one game lead in the National League West and a heart breaking defeat late in the game I have a tendency to overreact. One loss does not doom a season and a single failure on the mound by the bullpen does not mean that all hope is lost. It is not yet time to climb out on the ledge and threaten to jump if the team does not win a game. Unless of course you are Rally Sally then any day may be a good day to climb out on that ledge and take one giant step forward. Trust me, no one would stop you. Anyway after Monday’s bitter defeat to the Giants I’ll admit I had a lump in my stomach and not just because I tried the Keilbasa at Taste of the Majors (I don’t necessarily recommend that particular delicacy). Even though the Diamondbacks had won 6 of their last 10 I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence at their chances of making the play-offs. And with rookie Micah Owings on the mound tonight that knot was getting bigger and bigger the closer it got to first pitch. Again, it is not that I don’t have confidence in the Diamondbacks; it is just that… ok I guess it is that I don’t have a lot of confidence. I’ll admit I was scared to death of the game tonight.
With the limited experience by most of the Arizona Diamondbacks it is always an unknown adventure. Some days the young players look like perennial all-stars and there are other days when you wonder how they ever got to Double-A let alone to the Major League. Micah Owings epitomizes the Diamondbacks this season. There are games like the one he threw in Atlanta that make you praise the Diamondbacks player development staff in finding another jewel that may someday make people forget the first dynamic duo of Randy Johnson ad Curt Schilling. There are other starts like the last two that Micah made that make you long for the days of Armando Reynoso (and when I say long for the days those were very long days). I might not have felt so worried about tonight’s game if the Diamondbacks had actually won last night but with an opening series loss and with the Giants $75 million man on the mound tomorrow this series could very easily turn into a sweep by the Giants. Something I don’t even want to think about.
Owings from the moment that he emerged from the dugout looked different. He was definitely dialed in during warm-ups. I am not sure whether this was a result of a conversation Micah had with the coaches before the game or if this was just one of those times where things kind of clicked. Regardless of why, it was evident before the National Anthem that this was going to be a focused game for the Diamondbacks. Arizona’s hitters saw to that in the first inning when they jumped all over the Giants starter for 4 runs to spot Micah to a lead. In past outings Micah would let the other team back in with a big inning usually fueled by getting behind in the count. That was not the case tonight. He threw first pitch strikes to nearly every batter and found himself ahead of the count at every at bat. Other than one walk that was quickly erased in the first inning with a double play, Owings was lights out. It was fun to watch as he mowed down batter after batter. It was not until the fourth inning that the Giants even got a hit. Micah was on a mission and that mission included a victory. His pitching was only half of the story. His hitting continued to amaze when he sliced a double down the right field line in his first at bat in the second inning. While Owings did not accumulate a lot of strikeouts, the Giants hitters looked completely fooled. He was efficient in his pitches throwing a complete game 2-hit shut-out at a time when his team needed it the most. So thanks to the heroics on the mound and at the plate by a rookie pitcher, Diamondbacks fans took one step back from the ledge as the magic number dropped by 1 to 11.