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D-backs feast on opponents in middle innings

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The Major League baseball season is a long one -- a novel broken down into numerous chapters -- and by June most analysts won't be talking about what happened the first week. But for now, an interesting pattern developed in the first six D-backs games, five of them victories for the Arizona club.

Heading into Sunday's closer at Chase Field of their first homestand and a three-game Interleague series against the defending American League champion Indians, the D-backs had scored 45 runs already this season.

Full Game Coverage

PHOENIX -- The Major League baseball season is a long one -- a novel broken down into numerous chapters -- and by June most analysts won't be talking about what happened the first week. But for now, an interesting pattern developed in the first six D-backs games, five of them victories for the Arizona club.

Heading into Sunday's closer at Chase Field of their first homestand and a three-game Interleague series against the defending American League champion Indians, the D-backs had scored 45 runs already this season.

Full Game Coverage

A whopping 55.5 percent of them had been scored in the middle innings -- 11 in the fifth inning and 13 in the sixth inning.

That means the D-backs aren't getting the measure of the opposing starter until their second or even third time through the lineup.

"We're very proud of what we've done, but we know there's a lot of baseball to be played," said Torey Lovullo, the D-backs' third manager in their past four seasons. "We have almost six months of baseball remaining in our season. We are going to enjoy what we've done. But as I said a few days ago, this is really brick one in the foundation of what we're trying to build here. We have a long way to go."

Nevertheless, here's the pattern:

• In the season opener last Sunday against the Giants, Madison Bumgarner had a no-hitter through five innings and San Francisco a 3-0 lead. In the sixth, the D-backs tied it on an A.J. Pollock two-run homer and won in the bottom of the ninth, 6-5.

• On Wednesday, Matt Moore and the Giants had a 4-1 lead heading into the fifth. The D-backs came back with three in fifth and two more in the sixth to chase Moore. They won, 8-6.

• On Thursday, Jeff Samardzija had a 2-0 lead. This time in the fourth, as the D-backs headed around the batting order for the second time, they struck. David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt hit back-to-back homers for the tie. Arizona scored four more in the sixth to knock out Samardzija and won, 9-3.

It carried over into the first two games of the Cleveland series.

"They deserve a lot of credit," veteran Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Both games, when they've gotten on a little bit of a roll, man, they have really gotten aggressive."

On Friday night, Cleveland's Josh Tomlin had a 3-0 lead, heading into the bottom of the fourth. The D-backs scored two in the fourth and five in the fifth to win, 7-3.

On Saturday, Zack Greinke and Trevor Bauer were locked in a taut 1-1 tie when the D-backs batted around and scored four times in the sixth to chase Bauer.

"I can't put a finger on exactly why or how that's happening, but when I look at the box score and it shows that we've scored more runs than the other team, that's what pleases me the most," Lovullo said. "I think our players are ready to play at the beginning of a game. We're just moving together as a group.

"Of course, I want to play downhill baseball. That's something we preached in Spring Training. Let's get this thing moving and get ahead. But these guys are battle tested and that's what we've showed on this homestand."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks