State of the Home Stand Address – August 28-30

When we left the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team was huddled around the mound as the team’s training staff worked on closer Chad Qualls who dislocated his left knee on the last play of the game. Sweeping the Houston Astros during a three game series seemed like a distant memory after seeing Qualls unable to put any weight on his left leg.

While the Diamondbacks boarded a bus for Sky Harbor airport for a plane trip to Los Angeles; Chad Qualls will stay behind for an MRI and tests on his leg to assess the damage. Meanwhile the team will begin a four-game series with the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers followed by a three-game series with the Wild Card leading Colorado Rockies. As the Diamondbacks leave town it is time once again for an episode of State of the Home Stand Address where I discuss the recently concluded home stand at Chase Field.

This home stand marked the shortest home series the Arizona Diamondbacks would have during the 2009 season. It lasted just three games against the Houston Astros. The short home stand is a result of April when the Diamondbacks played only four games away from Chase Field for the entire month. While this home series may be short from a calendar perspective, the Diamondbacks made sure it was filled with interest and excitement.

The first two games of the series saw the Diamondbacks continue their offensive barrage that started during the last game of the San Francisco Giants series. Arizona outscored the Houston Astros 23-7. Considering the struggles this team has had scoring runs all season, this was extremely exciting to see.

The charge at the plate was led by right fielder Justin Upton who seemed to be fully recovered from his oblique injury he sustained in Pittsburgh earlier this month. Upton would hit .500 during this home stand including home runs in back-to-back games. Mark Reynolds continued his attack on Albert Pujols by hitting his 40th home run of the season putting him one behind the St. Louis slugger.

Game one of the series saw the debut of catcher John Hester who was called up from Reno after the Jon Rauch trade. Hester came up as a pinch hitter and hit a home run to dead center off the batter’s eye in his first major league at-bat. He became the third Arizona Diamondback to begin his career with a home run joining Gerardo Parra and Alex Cabrera in that exclusive club.

Saturday saw the return of center fielder Chris Young who was recalled from Triple-A Reno where he hit .370 during his stint in the minors. While Young went hitless in both Saturday and Sunday’s games, it was clear that his trip to Reno was successful. Each of the balls he hit this weekend were hard shots that just did not seem to fall for hits. Before Young would have popped out or hit softly; the balls he hit this weekend were scalded. I’m predicting Young will go on a tear over the last four weeks of the season and end on a high note.

Although the Diamondbacks swept the Astros, the starting pitching was not as crisp as we have seen lately. Max Scherzer struggled in his outing and was fortunate that the Diamondbacks scored 14 runs to give him the win. Dan Haren looked better this time than he has in other outings during the second half of the season but still seemed to run out of gas towards the end of the game.

The bullpen is in a state of flux first with the trade of Jon Rauch to the Minnesota Twins and then with the injury to closer Chad Qualls. Look for the final month of the season to be an extended try-out as different pitchers will be put in various positions to show what they can do next year.

Saturday marked Luis Gonzalez Appreciation night which culminated a day where Gonzalez announced his retirement as a baseball player and was introduced as the newest member of the Arizona Diamondbacks front office. He will be a special assistant to President and CEO Derrick Hall. Although they did not explain what Gonzalez’s job duties would be, he will clearly be customer facing interacting with the fans and the players.

Saturday also included a post-game concert featuring Montgomery Gentry. Judging from the size of the crowd that remained after the game this was one of the more popular concert acts that the Diamondbacks have had at Chase Field. The stage was set up beyond second base facing home plate. This allowed more of the fans to be able to see the stage but from our seats along the first base side the sound was extremely distorted. Walking around the concourse there was similar distortion along the third base side too. In the future it would be nice if they could angle the speakers to allow more of the fans to be able to hear the concert from off-center.

The season is starting to wind down and as such the vendors are starting to settle in minimizing the amount of new things you find at the concessions. Subway seems to be getting more comfortable at the ballpark. Early in the season their quality was off and on being off more than on. Now you get a consistent sandwich every time. I like Subway as a change of pace but the workers seem less than thrilled to be working there. They are one of the less friendly vendors I have found in the ballpark.

Garcias has stepped up their menu and their food and have become clear winners with the fans. They are now much busier than they were earlier in the season and I am seeing more of their food in the stands than I have noticed before. They are some of the best food values at the ballpark and I highly recommend them.

After a seven game road trip the Diamondbacks will return on Labor Day for an afternoon game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a three-game series with the Dodgers the Diamondbacks will have an off day before welcoming the Milwaukee Brewers for three games. There are several upcoming promotions including fan-voted Augie Ojeda bobble head day on September 12.

There are only 15 home games remaining in the 2009 season so pick up your tickets and make your way down to Chase Field to catch an Arizona Diamondbacks game. If you happen to be near Section 112 Row 8 don’t forget to stop by and say hello.

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