Last month, the Pittsburgh Pirates gave all baseball fans false hope that they would have a winning season—their first since 1992.
Fortunately for fans of other NL Central teams, it didn't go as planned.
The Pirates kept winning, but everything returns to normalcy. After beating the Reds on July 18, the Buccos moved into first place. After shuffling around between first and second place with the Cardinals and Brewers, things fell back into place. They lost nine straight and the Cinderella story was over—they're now in fourth place.
However, the Arizona Diamondbacks are in a different situation.
Instead of four "relevant" teams, the D'Backs have only one team in their way—the world champion San Francisco Giants. Unlike the Pirates, Arizona's offensive production is keeping their hopes alive. They rank sixth in slugging and seventh in runs among all MLB teams.
Back in May, the Diamondbacks went on a hot streak. They went over .500 by winning 15 of 18 games. Since then, consistency has been key. They've maintained their above-.500 record and allowed the Giants to fall below them. Now they're in first place.
Gerrardo Parra, Willie Bloomquist, Ryan Roberts, Chris Young and All-Stars Justin Upton and Miguel Montero have all been keeping the D'Back's pace.
The Giants, without Buster Posey, Pat Burrell and Miguel Tejada, rank 29th in runs and 28th in slugging—they're averaging about three-and-a-half runs per game. Pitching has been keeping them alive in the race, as they rank second in the MLB in ERA, quality starts and WHIP, and first in batting average against.
The D'Backs have pitching too. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson each have more than 10 wins and J.J. Putz has 27 saves. Their team ERA isn't great at 4.06, but the offense can help out with that.
So, is this another Cinderella story? I think not. The Diamondbacks have shown they can hit, pitch and win. They only have one team riding along with them. They've remained consistent and have no reason to change. This could be their first chance to get to the playoffs since 2007.
If the Diamondbacks keep hitting and their young team stays healthy, we're looking at a tight race for the NL West pennant.