The Arizona Diamondbacks have now left Chase Field and are heading to their charter flight to San Francisco where they begin a three game series against the Giants tonight. The team will be on the road for ten games as they make a west coast swing that will see them play the Giants then the San Diego Padres and finally a four game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium before returning to Phoenix the first week in August. With the Diamondbacks leaving town it can mean just one thing, it is time for another episode of the “State of the Home Stand Address” where I attempt to give a fan’s perspective on the home series that just completed. This recap will cover the three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the three games with the Chicago Cubs. As always, the opinions expressed within this post and this blog are my own and in no way indicative of how others see the games or the series. So let’s get started.
This home stand marked the beginning of the second half of the season. It was the first games the Arizona Diamondbacks would play after the all-star break. It appropriately began with the Diamondbacks facing second place Los Angeles for a battle for the National League Western Division lead. Arizona had a 1 game lead over the Dodgers and needed a series win in order to maintain that margin. Doug Davis started the game and immediately gave up 3 runs to put the home team in the hole. Arizona would rally back scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the first and another 2 in the bottom of the second to give them a 6-3 lead. After the Dodgers scored 2 runs in the third the Diamondbacks tacked on a run of their own to maintain the lead. It looked like Arizona was going to take the game but the bullpen gave up 2 runs in consecutive innings to force a tie. The game went extra innings and ultimately the Dodgers triumphed in the eleventh.
Game 2 of the series saw All-Star Dan Haren dominate the Dodgers in route to a 3-2 win. Haren did not give up a run but the bullpen again struggled and the Dodgers came within one hit of taking the lead. The final game of the series saw Brandon Webb pitch a gem only to see the bullpen implode allowing the Dodgers to score 5 runs in the top of the ninth to win the game.
The Chicago Cubs came to town for a 3 game series where they would miss both Haren and Webb giving them a distinct advantage. Considering Chicago has the best record in the National League it didn’t look good for the snakes. In game 1 Randy Johnson took the mound and looked like classic Randy allowing only 2 hits and winning the game 2-0. Rich Harden pitched well giving up only 1 hit which unfortunately was a home run. The two teams combined for 4 hits, something that has never happened in Diamondbacks history. Game 2 of the series saw the Diamondbacks hitters take advantage of Chicago pitching scoring 9 runs to win 9-2. The Cubs bats retaliated and the Diamondbacks bullpen again faltered giving up 6 runs in the 8th inning for a 10-6 loss. This home stand could have very easily ended with a record of 6-0 but instead Arizona leaves with a 3-3 split. Not good and it does not bode well for the upcoming away games.
With the Dodgers and the Cubs both being in town the crowds were fairly large for all 6 games. The largest crowd was on Saturday with the Dodgers which was also ’70′s night and Bob Melvin Manager of the Year Bobble Head night. There were a lot of changes this home stand at the stadium. The Diamondbacks have installed small climbing toys in the toddler corral in the Sandlot. It used to be just a fenced in area with artificial turf but now has a couple of small fixtures that the kids can climb on. The Sandlot area also now has life-size cut-outs of several players. Brandon Webb and Christ Snyder are represented as are Randy Johnson and Augie Ojeda. It is kind of comical to see that they put Augie right next to Randy to show the extremes in player height. On the main concourse on the right field porch the Diamondbacks have installed two theater style seats and have signs around them identifying them as Harkins seats. It appears that they are being used as giveaway seats with some promotion with the local theater chain. Nothing was said either before or during the game so the fans are left wondering how you go about getting those seats. The Diamondbacks also began a new promotion where they have installed two baseball targets in right and left field. During the 4th, 5th, and 6th inning they will select 2 sections. If an Arizona Diamondbacks player hits a home run that hits either of these targets then everyone seated in the selected sections will share in $1,000,000 in gas cards. The targets look to be approximately 4 foot in diameter making the odds fairly remote that this will ever actually happen. It has made the fans much more aware of the middle innings of the game so it is having a benefit.
For season ticket holders the Arizona Diamondbacks are offering free taste tests of several of the concession stands before Saturday games in July and August. The taste tests are available 30 minutes prior to the gates opening and end as soon as the general public is admitted. The first three concessions featured were Red Hots, Fat Burger, and Hungry Hill. Red Hots gave samples of fish and corn dogs. The corn dogs were really good, the fish was too fishy for my tastes but then I am not a big seafood fan. Fat Burger gave samples of their chili curly fries. They were really good and I may have to try those again. I was most looking forward to the Hungry Hill samples. Not because I had never tried them but because I can never get enough of their great sausages. They handed out Italian Sausages which are my favorite (followed closely by the Polish Sausage and Bratwurst). This is a great idea and should give the season ticket holders an opportunity to try some menu items they might not otherwise get.
It was great to be back at Chase Field after being away for the All-Star break. Now if the Diamondbacks can get on some kind of roll before returning to face the Pirates and Braves we’ll be in good shape.