AZ 5, Brewers 10 - How the West was (not) Won...

Record: 45-46. Change on last season: +2

Farewell to .500: we hardly knew ye. That blew chunks, didn't it? About the only plus to come out of Sunday's game was, that everyone else in the division lost too, running the NL West's record since the All-Star break to a stunning 3-13. So, what would have been a chance to gain ground on everyone for the second straight day, ended up as a mournful cry of, "Well, we're still where we were."

Almost, anyway. Conor Jackson came off distinctly second-best in an encounter with the 260 lb. man-mountain known as Prince Fielder, who should really pick on someone his own size: WWE might be the best source of candidates there. Though it's not believed to be serious, Jackson will probably undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. The forecast is for a couple of starts from Tony ".185" Clark at first, which probably won't help our prospects of victory much against the Dodgers.

Nor will a long session for the bullpen, following another early exit for Vargas. This time, he didn't even get through the fourth inning, being tattooed for eight hits and six earned runs in only sixty pitches. Aquino, EdGon, Vizcaino and Julio were forced to fire-fight, and did credibly enough (two earned runs in 5.1 innings), but with each man throwing 20-30 pitches, it leaves our relief corps stretched for tomorrow. Even closer Jorge Julio threw 28, striking out the side with men on second and third.

While the Brewers were pounding out 16 hits against us, there were a couple of bright spots. Jeff DaVanon, batting leadoff, reached base four times on three hits and a walk. And Chad Tracy had two hits, driving in three runs, though did also fan twice, and committed his eleventh error of the season. Stephen Drew, meanwhile, is still waiting for the first hit of his major-league career, going 0-for-4 with a K. He, did, however, make a great defensive play at SS, and is so far not the dodgy glove his 15 errors for Tucson implied.

Otherwise, though: it was a distinctly lackluster performance all round, and I'm afraid that Luis Gonzalez tying Willie Mays for 32nd on the all-time doubles list, with the 2,300th hit of his career, rated only as the mildest of thrills. I was, in fact, happier to find a nickel in the reject slot of the vending machine at work. As well as rumblings about Green going to the Yankees, there is also a rumour circulating that Gonzalez could be in pinstripes; whether this comes to pass or not, only time will tell.

Thanks to all those who chipped in during the comments, which understandably drifted somewhat off-topic a bit. Dutch soccer and the rivalry between Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers seemed the top alternative topics, as the winning streak came to a grinding halt in front of us. A special welcome to new commentators ASUJon and jazzbo13, but unnamedDBacksfan, flyingdutchman, Devin, Englishdback, TheMainMan and William K were also in attendance.

Heroes and Zeroes
Series 29: vs. Brewers, at home

L.Gonzalez: 6-for-13, 4 2B, 4 RBI
Webb: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 0 ER
Estrada: 4-for-8, 2 HR, 3 RBI
------------------------------
Drew: 0-for-7, BB, 2 K
Vargas: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER

Okay, I was a little flip about Gonzalez's feat. Let's not underplay it: as far as doubles go, he's now up in some pretty elite company. At the current pace, he's due another 22 by the season end, which would move him past Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Dave Winfield, Joe Medwick, Rogers Hornsby and Harry Heilman. That's not a bad team. Gonzo is also now in the top 10 active players for hits. So, credit where it's due, and Gonzo also had a pretty good series all told.

Estrada did too, starting off after the All-Star break, the same way he finished the first half. Jackson also had two homers, rediscovering his long-absent power stroke, but those were the only hits in the series. Webb, of course, retains his perennial place as a hero, facing and defeating a potential rival for the Cy Young in Capuano. It's kinda weird when seven shutout innings feel like par for the course for him. I haven't felt so confident of a Diamondbacks starter in a very long time.

Of course, the collapse of Vargas on Sunday afternoon was the villainous performance this series. Discussion is now raging as to whether we might be better off with EnGon replacing him as a regular starter: see the diary on the right for that particular thread. And, of course, Stephem Drew made his long-awaited appearance in a Diamondbacks uniform...and we're still waiting for his first hit. Sure, it's very early days, but I know we all harboured secret hopes of him hitting .400 right from the start. Reality, as they say, bites.

Speaking of first-round picks, looks like it might be a while before we get to sign our 2006 selection. Scott Boras was at the game today, and had this to say regarding his client, Max Scherzer: "Guys like Stephen and Max are value players. They are high-end guys, and I think Arizona knows the fact that they had the chance to draft him was because of the value point that was placed on him in the draft, and a lot of teams obviously weren't in the market." Roughly translated: he may have been picked eleventh, but don't expect him to sign for eleventh-pick cash.

No rest for the D'backs here, as Monday sees the Dodgers coming to town, fresh from a fearful licking at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe a preview of the first round of the playoffs, both in the teams involved, and the likely outcome? We'll see. But at least it'll means one NL West team is guaranteed a victory tomorrow, which will be an improvement on today...

[Late update]

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Today: Return of the NL Worst

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