Ian Kennedy Posts 20th Win; Diamondbacks Move Closer To Unlikely NL West Title

Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Major League Baseball game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee. Clayton Kershaw. Those are the three pitchers most being discussed for the NL Cy Young Award; the numbers of the three are so close they're nearly interchangeable.

We all know that individual pitcher "wins" don't mean much these days, what with the small number of complete games and bullpens blowing leads for even good clubs. But it wasn't Halladay, Lee or Kershaw to become the first National League pitcher to reach the formerly-sainted 20-victory plateau.

No, it was the Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy, who registered win number 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Phoenix on Monday night. Kennedy's other numbers should put him in the Cy Young discussion (though, personally, if I had a vote it would go to Lee; the six shutouts and the two long consecutive-inning scoreless streaks he's had this year are mighty impressive).

Kennedy threw one of the best games anyone's pitched in the major leagues this season. He gave up just one hit -- a single to his pitching opponent, Jeff Karstens. He figuratively sawed off Pirates bats all night, striking out 12 and allowing just one other baserunner (a walk to Andrew McCutchen). He threw 113 pitches, 76 for strikes, and the only question manager Kirk Gibson would have had to contemplate was whether to take him out in the ninth inning if he hadn't given up that hit to Karstens.

Speaking of bats, look at what Justin Upton did to his in the bottom of the sixth inning:

Yes, you did see what you thought you saw. Upton broke his bat and hit a home run. That was the game's only run.

J.J. Putz entered to replace Kennedy in the ninth, and after giving up a one-out triple to Alex Presley, he induced a ground ball from Neil Walker and then struck out McCutchen with a 94 MPH fastball to end it.

The D'backs magic number is four. D'backs? Magic number? Who would have thought that possible when this season began? Not only that, Arizona is just one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the No. 2 seed in the NL playoffs, which would give them home field at least for the division series round.

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