Record: 35-29. Change on last season: +2
"The most thrilling crowd-pleaser of the summer so far. I particularly liked the ending. :-)"
-- AZ SnakePit
Even though it was a heart-pounder, the good guys won. Jorge Julio comes in for his first one-run save opportunity in a Diamondbacks uniform. The tying run reaches to lead off the inning, but goes nowhere on a K and a fly-out. Now, Barry Bonds is at the plate: two outs, ninth inning, representing the go-ahead run. "Power versus power" said Brennaman, even admitting it was an overused cliche - but one hard to argue with here. However, this didn't end with a deep blast to the bleachers, or a swinging K. 'Roidman rolled over on a two-seam fastball to the right side for a tame ground-out, but one that, regardless, ended the losing streak at seven.
The celebrations went on long into the night: during the streak, I noticed the GameDay Threads often fell all but silent during the later innings, as defeat loomed over us once again. Not today: this one kept going until the end, and after - 215 comments is certainly a season-high, and could be an all-time record. It's definitely another one to tack on to the list of memorable games this year so far. Quite a list we're building for 2006: everything from 1-0 extra-innings games to total blowouts and stunning comebacks.
And what - really, what - can you say about Enrique Gonzalez? Seven shutout innings of one-hit ball. Two walks, four K's, and only two batters over the minimum. Just a brilliant performance from a pitcher appearing in only his fourth major-league game. It was probably wise to take him out after seven, though he'd only thrown 98 pitches: he had walked two hitters in that inning, and when his spot came up in the bottom of the frame, it made the decision easier for Melvin. Vizcaino allowed a solo home-run in the eighth, before Julio moseyed onto the mound for his High Noon-esque encounter with the man in the black hat.
It was nice actually to score a first-inning run, thanks to Tracy's solo homer, rather than be scored upon. Though it should have been a two-run shot: it came on the very next pitch after Eric Byrnes had been picked-off from second base. I had qualms whether that would prove a crucial error, especially as the game wore on and it became clear this was a pitcher's duel. However, it turned out that more decisive was Winn and Bonds combining their inabilities to turn Green's hit into a triple, which scored on Estrada's sac fly.
We only managed six hits in total, with nobody getting more than one - Hudson did reach safely three times, on a hit and both of our walks. But that was three more hits than the Giants had, and Bonds went 0-for-3; hearts were in mouths for his first at-bat, which led to a long, deep fly-out to the warning-track in the furthest corner of center-field. He may be old, he may be failing, but - especially in a one-run game - he still has the potential to hurt you, perhaps more than any player in the game. As a result, his OBP for the year is .469, the best in the majors of anyone with 150+ PA's, even if it is now actually higher than his slugging percentage.
Took just two hours, ten minutes for the entire game, the quickest of the season so far - beating the 2:18 of a 3-1 loss in Milwaukee on April 7. And with the Dodgers getting crushed in Petco, it means we spring back into a tie for the division lead. The general consensus is that dumping Ortiz may cost us $22m, but it's a necessary step for the franchise to move forward. And what a difference a lack of Russ makes. According to research by Devin, our record with him in the rotation is 8-17; without, it's now 27-12.
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Today: What we do in life, echoes in eternity
Thanks also to Spencer, VIII, suitsmetoATnT, Ben, npineda, William K, IndyDBack, Keith and azshadowwalker, who popped in as the sunshine of victory drove away the dark clouds of defeat, for the first time in over a week. Hopefully, we can now build on this going forward, take the series tonight, and then look for a sweep tomorrow. However, that's getting a little ahead of ourselves, and I'm happy to take one game at a time, before we start thinking about building a winning streak.
Interesting article on FoxSports, quoting anonymous agents unhappy with the way the D'backs have handled GrimsleyGate:
"He wants to be someone," [another agent says]. "He wants to be included in the inner circle of the ownership fraternity and believes that by fighting and humiliating Grimsley publicly, the owners will embrace him."
It'll be interesting to see whether these negative feelings about Kendrick does turn into any problem getting free-players to sign here. I suspect this is probably just mouthiness on the part of the agents, concerned about the precedent of not paying a contract, which means, in turn that the agents don't get paid. Any player who believes themselves likely to follow the Grimsley route - drug abuse, federal raids, etc. - is probably not one we want to have in AZ, and I suspect money will speak louder than agent-esque whining, in the long run.