AZ 1, Phillies 10 - Distractions, distractions...

Record: 34-24. Change on last season: +3

Since Russ Ortiz's last appearance in a Diamondbacks' uniform, we've gone 26-12. And now, we lose his first start off the DL, by a bigger margin than all our losses combined, in the past 21 games since May 13. Remind me again, exactly why did we bring him back from Tucson? That's probably a little harsh on Ortiz: he allowed three runs in his five innings, while the bullpen surrendered seven in four. And you won't win many games either, when your offense scores one run on four hits.

Not that Ortiz quite deserves the hard-luck loser label, especially for a first inning which was pretty much as bad as feared. Five hitters in, he'd allowed two hits and a walk, and was 2-0 down with another man in scoring position. However, he then rebounded a bit, retiring eleven of the next twelve hitters faced, before the Phillies scored another run in the fifth. Ortiz was pulled after that, having thrown 106 pitches, and I can see both sides of the arguments on his performance:

  • PRO: Three runs in five innings is okay for his first game back.
  • ANTI: 106 pitches for those innings is unacceptable; we need our starters to go more than five frames.
  • PRO: Seven K's! That's the most he's had for Arizona - his previous best was five - and his highest total since May 9th, 2004.
  • ANTI: Five walks, one short of his Arizona record (on May 24th, 2005) - two of which came round to score. So much for "control".
  • PRO: He's always been like that. Back on May 27, 2000, he threw six innings of one-hit ball, but walked seven and struck out 11.
  • ANTI: That's what concerns me. Who wants the old Russ back? At $33m/4 years? I'd like a new one, please. Did we keep the receipt?
  • PRO: And don't forget, you can hardly blame him for being distracted by the revelations of GrimsleyGate.
  • ANTI: If he's clean, not his problem. He's hardly a ringing endorsement for performance-enhancing drugs, is he? And the last thing Ortiz needs is Human Growth Hormone.
  • PRO: I guess we'll see. With Cruz on the DL, I don't think Ortiz is going anywhere, any time soon. Another beer?
  • ANTI: Don't mind if I do. Hey, I've got this great idea for a Russ Ortiz Drinking Game...

That might be very welcome for his next start - scheduled for Sunday, against Pedro Martinez. Anyone betting against an 0-5 start for Ortiz? But what Russ outing would be complete without a post-game loser's quote from him:

I had a ton of adrenaline going. I felt good, but when it was all said and done, I was upset about the three walks in the first inning. I didn't make the pitches in that inning, but after [that], I pitched the way I was [in my rehab outings]... After the first inning, I was able to calm down a little bit and make my pitches. I was able to control my emotions and pitch the way I am capable of.

Sounds like a series of reasonable, credible statements - a bit disappointing, given how much angry fun we've had with his "Who, me?"-like comments in the past. Perhaps he was relieved that our other pitchers made him look like Cy Young. Whether GrimsleyGate affected Ortiz, we'll never know, but it's certainly true that the rest of the team's performance was badly below-par: bullpen, defense and offense. The Phillies doubled their lead in the sixth inning, though Medders' ERA escaped unscathed, all three runs being unearned, thanks to an error by Jackson.

Meanwhile, we had the expected problems solving Hamels, who allowed no hits until the fourth inning. Our only real chance came in the sixth, and by then, we were 6-0 down. Arizona loaded the bases with nobody out, but all we were able to get was a sacrifice fly by Conor Jackson. The Phillies bullpen shut the Diamondbacks down for the next 3.1 innings, allowing only one more baserunner, and Lyon's ERA ballooned to 4.55, thanks to three runs allowed in the ninth. Jarvis gave up one through the seventh and eighth; when that's the best performance of the game, you know we've got problems...

Your daily dose of yummy Fangraphs goodness
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Today: No gain, but plenty of pain

Thanks to VIII, William K (not least, for his great suggestion of a new home for Russ - the idea of getting one of their shirts with "ORTIZ" on the back appeals enormously), johngordonma, Mister T in AZ, IndyDBack, azdb7, Devin, andrewinnewyork, micmac99, Spencer and icecoldmo for coming in, on what was - to say the least - an interesting day for the Arizona Diamondbacks as an organization...

Lost, largely, in all the furore, was the departure of a member of our starting rotation to the DL. Juan Cruz's shoulder felt "tired" throwing in the outfield on Monday, which is why he was bumped from his scheduled start last night. But that has not been deemed enough, and so we've called up Dustin Nippert instead. He's gone 7-1 with a 3.47 ERA for the Sidewinders, and while we'd rather he had been called up instead of Ortiz, we're happy to see Nippert - not least because we sponsor his page. That aside, I'm keen to see what he can do: his performances at the end of last season were promising. And, certainly, after yesterday, I think we could all do with a lift...

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