Many questioned if the Arizona Diamondbacks had the pitching to keep up with the defending World Series champions in the NL West race.
Their recent dominance on the mound has surely put those doubts to rest.
The division-leading Diamondbacks try to record a season best-tying seventh consecutive win and 10th in a row at home for the first time in more than eight years when they open a three-game set with the visiting Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
While Arizona’s starters may not garner the attention that San Francisco’s rotation commands, they’ve been nearly unhittable during the team’s six-game winning streak, earning all six wins while posting a minuscule 0.66 ERA.
Ian Kennedy, who started that impressive run, continued it Sunday by throwing seven innings of one-run ball as the Diamondbacks (75-59) beat San Diego 6-1 to complete a three-game sweep. Arizona moved four games ahead of the second-place Giants.
“This year their pitching is really come on,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “The two guys at the top of the rotation, Kennedy and (Daniel) Hudson have come into their own. They have a couple of years under their belt and they are pitching with a lot of confidence and good stuff.”
The Diamondbacks haven’t won 10 straight at home since an 11-game run June 7-July 9, 2003, but they seem to be in good position of accomplishing that feat with Hudson (13-9, 3.75 ERA) on the mound – Arizona has won nine of his last 11 home starts.
Hudson, who has gone 7-2 with a 3.22 ERA in those 11 outings, came within an out of recording his first career shutout prior to allowing two solo homers during a 4-2 win at Washington on Wednesday. The right-hander scattered nine hits and struck out six before J.J. Putz recorded a one-out save.
While Hudson has lost both of his starts against the Rockies this season while compiling a 5.84 ERA, he’s quieted two of their best bats over the course of his career. Troy Tulowitzki is 2 for 9 lifetime against Hudson and Carlos Gonzalez is 1 for 5.
That duo has come up big for Colorado (64-70) of late.
Tulowitzki is batting .414 with eight homers and 21 RBIs over his last 24 games while Gonzalez, who went 3 for 4 in Sunday’s 7-6 road win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, is batting .417 with eight homers and 26 RBIs during a 15-game hitting streak – the longest active run in the majors.
Alex White (0-0, 7.50) surely hopes his second start with the Rockies goes much smoother than his first. The 22-year-old right-hander, acquired from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade last month, yielded a career-high five runs in six innings Tuesday but didn’t get a decision as Colorado beat Houston 8-6.
Despite the poor outing, manager Jim Tracy was impressed by the highly-touted rookie.
“The numbers don’t indicate the job he did,” Tracy said.
The Rockies, winners of six of eight overall, have dropped five of six to the Diamondbacks and seven of nine at Chase Field.