A check of the National League West Division standings this morning shows the Arizona Diamondbacks right in the thick of things.
The Snakes are now 36-25, tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers in second place, two games behind the Colorado Rockies.
The Dbacks dropped three straight games in Miami last weekend. But now back home at Chase Field, Arizona has gotten back on track with a pair of wins over the division-rival San Diego Padres. A key performer in these two games has been utility player Chris Owings.
On Tuesday, Owings cracked his seventh home run of the season. The three-run shot in the second inning blew the game open early, giving Arizona a 7-0 lead en route to a 10-2 rout.
Last night, Owings went 1-3, scoring a run and driving home another. His seventh inning sacrifice fly brought home Paul Goldschmidt with a run to open up a 7-3 lead. Arizona would eventually win the game by a 7-4 margin.
In both games, he was the starting shortstop in new manager Torey Lovullo‘s lineup. Owings has started 30 of the Dbacks’ 61 games this year at the position. He evenly splits time there with Nick Ahmed, who has started the other 31 games at shortstop.
OWENS PROVIDES LINEUP VERSATILITY
Owings has also proven his versatility by stepping in to start 16 games in right field and four games at second base. He went out to left field once, and has come off the bench on numerous occasions at each of the other three positions.
Owings versatility has helped Arizona weather the storm when injuries hit the outfield. Two starters, Yasmany Tomas and A.J. Pollock, are currently on the Disabled List.
A couple of weeks back, Jack Magruder of Fanrag Sports Network quoted Owings on his role with the ball club this year.
Owings is now hitting for a .297/.335/.464 slash line. Those would all be career full season highs for the player who will turn 26 years of age in August. The Tuesday home run was his career-high seventh of the season. He also has 34 RBI and nine stolen bases.
DBACKS COVERING FOR INJURIES
Pollock has been sidelined for three weeks with a Grade 1 right groin strain. He is likely still at least a couple of weeks away from a return to the lineup. Tomas also has a groin issue, and his return is still to be determined. Groins can be particularly tricky injuries, so Arizona will be cautious with both players.
Normally bench players, Daniel Descalso, Gregor Blanco, Rey Fuentes, and Jeremy Hazelbaker are also stepping up in the outfield. The remaining starter, right fielder David Peralta, is having a nice season after missing most of 2016 with his own injury issues.
Losing two starting outfielders for a chunk of your season while trying to stay in contention requires others to step up. Since providing the walkoff hit on Opening Day, Owings has been stepping up regularly, helping to keep the Diamondbacks in the race.