Arizona’s struggling offense got a very big boost on Monday.
Arizona (60-58) acquired Dunn on Monday from Cincinnati for a minor league pitcher Dallas Buck and two players to be named later. Dunn, who is eligible for free agency after making $13 million this year, is only hitting .233 but entered the week tied for the major league lead with 32 homers.
Dunn’s presence alone should provide a boost for the NL West-leading Diamondbacks, who have averaged just 4.06 runs per game since the start of June - among the worst averages in the NL. They have failed to top four runs in eight of their last 11 games.
“It was one of those pleasant surprises,” Dunn said on a conference call. “To come off the terrible month that we had in Cincinnati, and you get a phone call today saying you’re being traded to a first-place team. As a player that’s all you could ask for.”
Arizona could also use a spark after losing second baseman Orlando Hudson for the remainder of the season with a dislocated bone in his left wrist. Hudson, who owned a .306 batting average, was injured Saturday and underwent surgery that night.
Still, the Diamondbacks did manage to end a four-game losing streak on Sunday, beating Atlanta 6-1.
“The Dodgers aren’t going to give us the division,” third baseman Mark Reynolds said. “We have to win as many games as we can. The way the division is it’s crucial for us to keep playing and keep plugging along.”
While Los Angeles is the most immediate threat to Arizona’s slim division lead, the Rockies (53-67) are potentially within striking distance. Colorado is eight games back, and while that makes it a longshot for the West title, the team is looking forward to this series.
“They’re pretty big games,” shortstop Troy Tulowitzki told the Rockies’ official team Web site. “(Arizona) is the team we’re trying to catch, and we’re not doing a very good job of gaining ground, so we have to sweep.”
The Rockies are coming off Sunday’s 16-7 loss to San Diego. They have dropped five of seven against Washington and San Diego - two of the worst road teams in the majors - on this 10-game homestand.
“The three-game series is an opportunity for us to get things right,” manager Clint Hurdle told his team’s site. “And if it gets away from us then, we’ll know where we are at the end of those three games.”
Hurdle will hand the ball to starter Ubaldo Jimenez (8-10, 3.86 ERA), who was tagged for six runs and a career-high six walks in five innings Thursday, falling 6-3 in the second game of a doubleheader with Washington. Jimenez, who entered the game on a 14-inning scoreless streak that ended in the second inning, had won his previous four starts and gone 6-1 in his previous seven.
Jimenez has not received a decision in two previous starts against the Diamondbacks, both last season, despite allowing just four runs in 13 innings.
He will be matched up against 44-year-old lefty Randy Johnson (9-8, 4.24).
The five-time Cy Young Award winner gave up two runs in 7 1-3 innings against Pittsburgh Wednesday, but was charged with a 2-0 loss as Pirates starter Jeff Karstens took a perfect game into the eighth and finished with a two-hitter. Johnson ended a five-start winning streak, but still impressed the Pirates.
“That’s the best stuff I think he’s had in four or five years,” Pittsburgh’s Doug Mientkiewicz told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site.
Johnson is 16-7 with a 2.40 ERA in 25 career starts against the Rockies, including 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 outings at Coors. He gave up four runs over five innings in an 8-4 home win against Colorado on May 13.