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Arizona Diamondbacks Slither Into The Playoffs07:02
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Cole Gillespie of the Diamondbacks celebrates his grand slam against the Dodgers with teammates Collin Cowgill and Paul Goldschmidt on Wednesday. (AP)
Cole Gillespie of the Diamondbacks celebrates his grand slam against the Dodgers with teammates Collin Cowgill and Paul Goldschmidt on Wednesday. (AP)

Since winning the World Series in 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks have under-performed for the past few seasons, finishing last in the NL West in both 2009 and 2010. That's why most everyone was shocked to witness the 2011 season; the team finished atop their division with 94 wins despite a tepid spring training. Nick Piecoro, who covers the Diamondbacks for the Arizona Republic, joins Bill Littlefield on Only A Game to discuss the rise of this underdog squad.

There were not many positive things to say about the Diamondbacks coming out of spring training in 2011; they finished with a 12-25 record, tied for the worst winning percentage in the majors at .324. "Most of the people who watched spring training thought...they were going to be worse this year," says Piecoro.

But manager Kirk Gibson, who took over the team midway through last season and is now a contender for Manager of the Year, has seen a major turnaround in the performance of his battery of talented players. Ian Kennedy, who will start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Diamondbacks, has improved his ERA this season from 3.80 to 2.88 and is first in the National League in wins with 21. Third baseman Ryan Roberts is a defensive catalyst, bringing both swagger and skill that energize the team. Justin Upton, an MVP candidate with a .369 OBP and 88 RBI on the season, poses a threat to opposing pitchers at the number three spot in the lineup. With Miguel Montero as cleanup hitter, the Diamondbacks have plenty of power on offense, as well.

But will their talent be enough to edge out the Milwaukee Brewers? The odds are against them, but that didn't stop the Diamondbacks from their unlikely run this season.

This segment aired on October 1, 2011.

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