The young D-backs have been a streaky team all year, and that trend began right off the bat in April. A six-game winning streak helped Arizona open the year with a 7-2 mark. Over an eight-game stretch from April 16-24, the D-backs' only win came in April 18's 12-inning game at San Diego, highlighted by Brandon Webb's career-high 13 strikeouts. After a five-game losing streak during that stretch, Stephen Drew's two-out, game-winning homer off Trevor Hoffman ignited a six-game winning streak to end the month.
After averaging less than three runs per game through the first 16 contests, during which the D-backs went 6-10, Tony Clark's game-tying grand slam May 19 at Pittsburgh jumpstarted Arizona's offense. The D-backs finished the month with the first seven victories of an eight-game winning streak during which Arizona's starting pitchers dominated, winning all seven of those games while compiling a 1.65 ERA. Rookie Mark Reynolds was called up from Double-A to make his first start on May 16, and finished the month hitting .426 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
Call it the month of the dramatic homer for Arizona. On the day when Randy Johnson passed Roger Clemens for second on the all-time strikeout list (June 5), Chris Young beat the Giants with a walkoff homer in the 10th. His long ball accounted for the only run the next day, before doing it again on June 19 in a game Clark tied with a homer in the ninth to complete the comeback from a six-run deficit. Orlando Hudson provided the dramatics on June 15 with a pinch-homer in Baltimore to break a stretch of five losses in six games.
The D-backs started the month with seven losses in eight games on a disastrous road trip before the All-Star break against three sub-.500 teams. The club struggled throughout the trip with runners in scoring position. After beating the Padres two of three, losing three of four at Milwaukee and dropping the first game in Chicago, Drew's go-ahead homer started an eight-game winning streak. Included in that stretch, Eric Byrnes, Clark and Jackson drilled walk-off hits, with Byrnes' and Clark's hits leaving the yard.
The D-backs continued their hot streak from July, eventually winning 21 of 26 games to move a season-high five games ahead of the Padres for first place in the National League West on Aug. 18. On that day, pitcher Micah Owings showed he's also a hitter, going 4-for-5 with two homers, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored. Webb dominated throughout the month, throwing three straight shutouts to extend his franchise-record 42-inning scoreless streak, which ended two shutouts shy of Orel Hershiser's Major League record. The month ended with a 4-8 stretch, but Doug Davis beat the Padres to salvage a four-game series.
Save for a day, the D-backs remained in first place all month off the strength of a six-game winning streak and a subsequent four-game win streak. After San Diego took the lead with a win in Arizona on Sept. 3, the D-backs beat Padres top starters Chris Young and Jake Peavy with nine-run outbursts, leading to the six straight wins. That streak was capped by Jeff Salazar's three-run shot that epitomized Arizona's "Anyone, anytime" slogan that became a rallying cry for a squad that received clutch contributions from its entire roster. The D-backs looked good heading into the final week, until a pair of losses to the Pirates represented another turn. But Owings' four hits at the plate and 6 2/3 shutout innings set the stage for Webb and the D-backs to clinch a playoff berth with a heart-stopping, 4-2 win against streaking Colorado on the final Friday of the season.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.