The Diamondbacks come to Fenway Park this weekend for the first time since being swept here in June 2010, arriving with a 55-53 record that puts them in second place behind the Dodgers -- who have been 13 games better than Arizona since June 22. The D'backs are a streaky group who dropped four of five before getting to Boston, but are slated to send their two best starters to the mound this weekend.
Here are five Diamondbacks to keep an eye on while they're here to face those never-say-die Red Sox:
1. Paul Goldschmidt. The first baseman is the team's leader in batting (.300), home runs (24), runs batted in (86) and just about everything else -- including steals (10). Just 25 years old, he projects as one of the National League's best players for a long time to come, though the Sox may be catching him at a good time. Since his trip to the All-Star game, he's hitting just .208 with five extra-base hits in 60 plate appearances.
2. Randall Delgado. He and third baseman Martin Prado were the pieces that excited Arizona enough to send Justin Upton to Atlanta last winter, and the 23-year-old righty has delivered on his promise at the big-league level of late. He was bad at Triple-A to start the year, but has a 2.61 ERA since joining the rotation on June 18, and carries a 14.1 inning scoreless streak into Friday's start. Last time out he tossed a three-hit shutout against the Padres, and he's yet to allow more than three runs in any start as a Diamondback.
3. Pat Corbin. After Delgado tonight, the Sox get Corbin tomorrow. And things will get tougher. A just-turned-24 lefty, he's 12-2 with a 2.24 ERA after losing his last start -- but that loss was about as hard-luck as they come, considering he allowed a run on six hits over eight walk-free innings. It was the fourth straight start in which he allowed just a lone run, and while he's hell on lefties, who are hitting only .161 against him, he's no picnic for righties, either. They're hitting .217, which goes a long way toward a 0.991 WHIP that ranks fourth in the NL. The D'backs are 18-3 when he pitches, so it's very possible that Jake Peavy is excellent in his Red Sox debut and he still gets outpitched.
4. Brad Ziegler. Heath Bell and J.J. Putz have had opportunities to close for the Diamondbacks this season, though three weeks ago that job was bestowed upon Ziegler. And he's handled it dutifully. Since July 4 he's a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities, hasn't yielded an earned run, and has held opponents to a .206 average. He's not a strikeout pitcher, but he throws strikes, and has had success against the Red Sox (2.45 ERA) over the course of his career.
5. Cody Ross. He hasn't lived up to the production Arizona expected when it signed him to a three-year deal worth $25 million guaranteed during the offseason, though since the start of July he's hitting .312 with an .845 OPS and three homers. Overall he's batting just .271 with a .714 OPS and six taters through 86 games, so the numbers seem to justify the Red Sox decision not to bring him back after he hit 22 bombs and drove in 81 for them last year, despite Ross' preference to come back. The outfielder wanted to sign for three years; the team wouldn't offer more than two. "They told me that they didn’t want to sign guys to long-term deals, and then they gave Victorino a three-year deal, and then Napoli a three-year deal or four-year deal, whatever it was (before injuries cut it to one year)," he told WEEI's Mut and Merloni on Friday. "So, basically they lied to my face. At that point, I kind of got a bad taste in my mouth and wanted to move on, and that was it."
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