Preview: Cubs at Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told reporters prior to the start of his team's series against the Chicago Cubs that he hoped his team would "get back after it" following a dismal first-half showing. Following a pair of post-All-Star break comeback victories, the Diamondbacks eye their first three-game home sweep of the season Sunday against the Cubs. Arizona entered the break with a National League-worst 40-56 mark – the team's worst first half since going 34-55 in 2010.
The Diamondbacks have shown plenty of resiliency since getting back to work, overcoming Anthony Rizzo's two-homer game and an early deficit en route to a 5-4 win in the opener before rallying again in Saturday's 9-3 triumph. All-Star Paul Goldschmidt, who has reached base eight times and homered in each of the first two games of this series, will attempt to improve on his .388 career batting average versus the Cubs, who have dropped four straight and 10 of 12. Chicago (40-56) has lost 10 of its last 13 in Arizona and is only a half-game ahead of Colorado Rockies (40-57) for the worst record in the NL.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks RH Josh Collmenter (7-5, 3.80)
Although he was unable to post his fifth straight victory, Arrieta remained unbeaten since May 27 when he did not factor into the decision during the Cubs' 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on July 11. The 28-year-old, whose 1.95 ERA since May 1 is second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, allowed three runs on four hits and three walks over 7 2/3 innings. Arrieta is 4-1 with a 2.08 in eight road outings heading into his first-ever start against the Diamondbacks.
Collmenter rebounded from a rocky outing in his previous turn to post one of his best efforts of the season July 9, but settled for a no-decision in 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. The Central Michigan alum yielded one run on seven hits and struck out six over seven frames en route to his longest outing in five turns. Collmenter has yet to factor into the decision in any of his five appearances (two starts) against the Cubs despite posting a 1.26 ERA.
1. Goldschmidt (33) and Rizzo (32) rank second and third, respectively, in the NL behind Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (37) for the most homers since the 2013 All-Star break.
2. Arizona rookie SS Chris Owings (left shoulder soreness), who is eligible to come off the disabled list after missing the last 17 games, was shut down for three days after meeting with a doctor Friday.
3. The Cubs have played a major league-high 54 road games, but will play 23 of their next 33 at home following Sunday's series finale.
PREDICTION: Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 2