Arizona Diamondbacks: The chase is on for NL Wild Card spots

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are hoping to solidify Wild Card spots in the season’s final weeks.

Over the course of the next four days, there is a good possibility that the National League Wild Card picture could come into clear focus. The two top teams in the hunt, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, began a critical four-game set beginning Monday night in Chase Field.

Should the Diamondbacks take at least three of four, they could be difficult to catch. Should the Rockies take three of four, they would cut the Arizona lead for the top wild card spot by two games, and toss very interesting ingredients into the brew.

Coming into this series, the Diamondbacks have won five straight over the Rockies in the season series, and captured seven of the last eight games played. Before Monday’s series opener, the Diamondbacks held a five-game lead over the Rockies for that top Wild Card spot.

Prior to the series opener, manager Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks told Call to the Pen this set has his team on high alert.

“We don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “In the games we have played, they made adjustments and we continue to make adjustments. The fact we have won a few games in a row is not of great concern. Look, revenge is a dangerous word, especially in the sports”

The Rockies are coming off a sweep of the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium and the accomplishment is right behind the Diamondbacks sweep of the Dodgers in the same venue during the previous three games. The Diamondbacks brought the ace to the fore, and Luvullo selected Zack Greinke to open the set. Lefty Kyle Freeland got the nod for the Rox in the series opener, which Colorado won 5-4.

If the Diamondbacks are prepared, the Rockies own up to certain familiarity. That was the assessment of Rox manager Bud Black, who told Call to the Pen before Monday’s game, his team is well aware of the opposition.

“Inter-division play, and always a great test for both teams,” Black said. “No secrets here. We play each other in spring training, play each other during the season and there are some multi-players on both teams who have been with their respective clubs. It’s just good, old fashioned baseball, and it’s about whoever plays better. They had our number last week in Denver, and we have to bounce back in this series.”

Award-winning week

Arizona outfielder J.D. Martinez was named the National League player-of-the-week.

For the period ending September 10, Martinez posted a slash line of .429/.448/1.214 with eight runs scored, 12 hits, a double, seven home runs and 11 RBI over six games played to claim his fifth career Player of the Week Award. This was his first in the NL.

From his vantage, manager Torey Lovullo cited Martinez’s value, and that observation went beyond sheer numbers.

“That is a tremendous honor and the fact he was able to pull away from everyone else in the league speaks of what he means to us,” Lovullo said. “The four home runs (against the Dodgers) was the catalyst, but he helps us win in a variety of ways.”