PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks watched another team celebrate at Chase Field for the second straight season.
This one was much easier to take, not just because the opposing players stayed out of the Chase Field pool, but because they Diamondbacks appear to be on the right track in their rebuilding process.
“We saw so much individual and team improvement,” First baseman Paul Goldschmidt said after the Diamondbacks beat the Houston Astros 5-3 on Sunday. “Not just the wins, but the way guys were playing.”
The Diamondbacks were irritated last season when the Dodgers clinched a playoff berth at Chase and hopped the wall in right-center to play in the pool.
The Astros were much more subdued on the field, sharing a few high fives in the dugout after learning they had clinched the AL wild card with the Los Angeles Angels’ loss to the Texas Rangers.
Houston’s real celebration didn’t begin until the clubhouse.
The Astros had two straight 100-loss seasons to end their tenure in the National League, tacked on another after switching to the American League in 2013. Last season was only marginally better; Houston lost 92 games.
Arizona went 79-83 in its first season under general manager Dave Stewart and manager and former Arizona Wildcat Chip Hale, a 15-game improvement from finishing with baseball’s worst record in 2014.
Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer off Chad Qualls (3-5) and A.J. Pollock had a solo shot among his three hits for Arizona. Daniel Hudson (4-3) got the final two outs of the seventh inning and Brad Ziegler recorded six outs for his 28th straight save, matching the team record set by J.J. Putz from 2011-12.
“We treated it like a playoff, like we have all season,” Pollock said.
Even after Goldschmidt hit a towering two-run homer to left in the seventh to put Arizona up 5-3, the Astros were happy, well on their way to clinching the wild card spot.
“We didn’t really know what to do,” said Houston manager A.J. Hinch of scoreboard watching. “We knew we were in and it was a good feeling.”