Notes: D-backs streaking through July
After falling 4 1/2 back, five-game streak revitalizes club
PHOENIX -- With the D-backs riding a five-game winning streak heading into Thursday's game against the Marlins, it's hard to believe where they were less than a week ago.
They had lost three of four in Milwaukee and on Friday dropped the first game of their series with the Cubs. That put them in a tie with the Rockies for third place, 4 1/2 games out of first place, their largest deficit of the year.
The offense was virtually non-existent and there were questions about the pitching staff.
And the feeling in the clubhouse?
"We were done," pitcher Brandon Webb said.
And, now that they've won five straight and pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the Dodgers?
"A complete 180," Webb said. "Anytime you're winning, it makes it that much more fun to come to the park. We've been up and down. It's been very uneven and hopefully we can even that out and not be so erratic."
The D-backs have had four winning streaks and five losing streaks that have lasted at least five games. Their craziest stretch came at the end of April and beginning of May, when they lost five, won six and then lost five.
"It's just kind of how we function," veteran first baseman Tony Clark said. "You understand over the course of 162 games there's going to be ups and downs and probably even more so when you're a young ballclub. So, the trick is to find a way on any given day to win a ballgame and stop whatever negative snowball may have been building up over a course of x number of days."
Stephen Drew's eighth-inning homer into a stiff wind at Wrigley Field on Saturday proved to be the margin of victory, and they haven't lost since. Could that be the hit that the team points to as the turning point to the season?
"[It] could be," Clark said. "The only difference between the beginning of the year and now is that the guys see the end of the tunnel so now a five-game streak one way or the other is a much bigger event now than if you were in April or May."
He's back: Longtime Major League Baseball executive Roland Hemond was hired by the D-backs to serve as special assistant to team president, Derrick Hall. He will assist Hall in a variety of capacities including special projects, industry relationships and international initiatives.
It will be Hemond's second stint in Arizona as he was the team's senior executive vice president from 1996-2000. In that role he helped the D-backs prepare for the Expansion Draft and worked closely with then-GM Joe Garagiola Jr.
Hemond, who has spent 55 years in the game, went to the White Sox prior to his stint in Arizona to help first-year GM Kenny Williams. He was a three-time winner of MLB's Executive of the Year Award (1972, '83 and '89) and has served 23 seasons as a general manager with the White Sox (1971-85) and Baltimore Orioles (1988-95).
"I am very happy to rejoin the Diamondbacks organization," Hemond said in a statement. "It is gratifying to be welcomed back by Derrick and other members of the front office. I have been impressed by what has transpired with the Diamondbacks recently and I want to lend my experience to contribute in any way I can to make this organization even more successful for years to come."
Don't do that to me: Arizona manager Bob Melvin's heart skipped a beat on Wednesday night when Webb was struck on the arm and hip by a smash back up the middle.
"That scared me," Melvin said. "Especially when I went out there and saw where it hit him. I think both areas kind of took a little bit off of a sustained blow to one area."
In there: Third baseman Chad Tracy was back in the starting lineup on Thursday for the first time since last Friday. Tracy has been out of action as the club tried to calm down a case of tendinitis that he has.
Arrested: Minor League outfielder Joel Melendez was arrested and charged with third-degree rape on Thursday in Salem, Ore.
Melendez, who plays for the team's short-season Class A team in Yakima, Wash., is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl at the team's hotel in Oregon. Melendez is 21 years old.
Lt. Dave Okada of the Salem Police Department told The Associated Press that there was no force involved, but that the girl was to young to consent to sexual activity.
Melendez was placed on the restricted list by the D-backs.
Up next: The D-backs open a three-game series with the Braves on Friday night at Chase Field.
The Braves are four games back in the NL East and had their run of 14 straight division titles snapped last season, but that doesn't mean much to Melvin.
"The Braves are always good," Melvin said. "Whether or not they do it with their veterans or younger guys they mix in with pitching. Last year was kind of against the grain for them, but that's a team you always know is going to be there. Have that aura about them, being a winning organization from [GM John] Schuerholz to [manager Bobby] Cox to the Jones boys and the whole bit. When the Braves are coming in and you see them on your schedule they get your attention."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.