All season, the Diamondbacks have looked for other hitters to pick up Paul Goldschmidt.
Though Goldschmidt continues to lead the National League in runs batted in, the next closest in run production remains Martin Prado and that at a clear distance.
On a night when Goldschmidt struck out three times and left two runners on base in scoring position, Aaron Hill and Prado picked up the baton.
The question however, who picked up the bullpen.
In the end, it was outfielder Adam Eaton who picked up the whole team. Hitting the first pitch of the ninth inning over the right field fence, Eaton’s first of the season, and first career walk-off, gave the Diamondbacks a 7-6 victory over the visiting Baltimore Orioles before 18,889 in Chase Field.
The win snapped the D-backs two game losing streak and left Arizona still seven and one-half game behind the Dodgers in National League West.
The victory was the 23rd win for the D-backs last at-bat, most in the majors, their 33rd come-from-behind victory, and their 25th one-run win, best in the majors.
“Really, I don’t know what I hit and kind of blacked out,” Eaton said. “But, I’m happy with the result. For someone like me on the disabled list half the season, it felt good to contribute. This shows what can be done from anyone on the team.”
Eaton’s heroics saved a bullpen from further embarrassment and shame. While the offense pushed into a one run lead with a three spot in the seventh and had the Diamondbacks on the edge for victory, the relievers once again imploded.
This time, it was the new guy’s turn and the one reliable followed.
Holding a one run lead in the eighth inning, J. J. Putz retired the two hitters he faced. Then, manager Kirk Gibson called upon newly-acquired lefty Joe Thatcher to handle left-handed hitting Chris Davis, the majors leading home run hitter.
Thatcher worked the count to 2-2 and then Davis unloaded a drive into the left field bleachers for his 43rd bomb of the season to tie the game.
From there, catcher Wil Nieves drilled his first home run of the season to produce a 6-5 lead, but closer Brad Ziegler joined the Blown Save Club with his first of the season.
Ziegler, the bullpen savior of late, experienced the team‘s 20th blown save when Nick Markakis drove in the tying run in the top of the ninth with a sacrifice fly.
It appeared the Diamondbacks would salvage this one when Nieves took a 2-2 Troy Patton pitch just over the left field fence leading off the eighth. Yet, the bullpen still had more surprises and more humiliation.
The win exorcized some demons because the Diamondbacks, as true all season, they failed in knock in runners in key scoring position. Yet, Hill, Prado, Nieves and Eaton produced fireworks late and the Diamondbacks reached the winning column again.
With a 2-for-4 night, Hill established a career-best fifth straight multi-hit game and homered in each of his last three games. Coming into Monday’s game, Hill was hitting .392 in his last 13 games with seven doubles, three bombs and 12 RBIs.
“The difference is being more relaxed,” Hill said. “Plus, I’m getting in my work before each game on a routine basis and that helps. It’s always nice to settle into a familiar pattern. We also had a few guys (Monday night) to pick us up, like Eaton, Nievas. It’s always nice to take the stress off Goldschmidt.”
UNDER THE KNIFE
During Monday night’s game, the Diamondbacks announced outfielder Cody Ross will have surgery Tuesday to repair a small fracture in his right hip.
Ross, who was injured Sunday while running out a ground ball in the first inning in a game against the New York Mets, is likely finished for the season.
“This is not a common injury,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “As far as a time table and recovery period, I’m not sure.”
When asked if Ross would be ready for spring training next February, Gibson said it’s too soon to make that forecast.
Ross’ absence brings the outfield corps down to four and Gibson said he’s comfortable with that number.
Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter returned to Chase Field to manage a major league team for the first time since he guided the Diamondbacks in the franchise’s first three years.
The Orioles are in town for three with the D-backs and prior to the series opener Monday night, Showalter held court with reporters and talked about his years in the desert.
Mostly, he recalled the early days of spring training in Yuma, and the challenge of putting together a team and organization.
“I had an opportunity to learn many aspects of the game here and very proud to be part of what started here,” he said. “I was looking over the (D-backs) media guide and there are so many good people still here who put this franchise together. Probably the most important was the quality medical people who told us not to take a chance on this player or that player. That helped to put a solid team together.”
From his effort, Showalter guided the D-backs to a record of 250-236 (.514) winning percentage and in the first three years of existence. Under Showalter’s guidance, the Diamondbacks captured the 1999 National League West Division title, and that was the first time an expansion team won a division title within its first two years.
Showalter also had kind remarks for Kevin Towers, the Diamondbacks general manager.
“(Towers) has surrounded himself with quality baseball people,” he said. “With those guys in place, you can see what this team has accomplished.”
From his days in Arizona, Showalter retains two coaches on his current Orioles’ staff. These include third base coach Bobby Dickerson, who was the D-backs’ minor league infielder coordinator in 1998 and minor league field coordinator in 1999, and Jim Presely, the O’s hitting coach and Showalter’s hitting coach with the D-backs from 1998-2000.
Though these figures came out in spring training, the numbers remain relevant.
To own a major league baseball team, you need to have deep pockets.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Diamondbacks are the 19th most valued franchise of the 30 major league teams..
Their worth was established at $584 million and between San Diego ($600 million), and Minnesota (578 million).
The New York Yankees were the most highly valued franchise at $2.3 billion. The Yankees are one of four teams valued at $1 billion or more, and others include the Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.6 billion), the Boston Red Sox ($1.3 billion and the Chicago Cubs at $1 billion.
The least valued franchise was the Tampa Bay Rays at $451 million.
Also in regard to numbers, the Diamondbacks are not on their way to break any attendance records this season.
Before Monday’s home date with Baltimore, the Diamondbacks drew 1,585,655 or an average of 26,876 per date. In the National League, only the New York Mets and Miami Marlins have drawn fewer fans.
That includes three crowds above 42,000 this season.
Last season, the Diamondbacks drew 2,177,617 for 80 home dates, and averaged out to 27,220.
Overall in major league baseball, Seattle, the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, Oakland, Cleveland, Houston and Tampa Bay have drawn fewer fans this season. That’s in addition to the Mets and Marlins.
Beginning with the Orioles‘ game Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks have 22 home dates left on their 2013 schedule.