Record: 36-26. Change on last season: +2. Pace: 94-68.
Quote of the day: "We didn't come out to play today. We played like crap... We've got to come out playing better against a team like that. We need to come out and show that we can play with these guys." -- Conor Jackson
There's something to be said for getting up at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning; you can get an awful lot done. Okay, that's probably about the only thing to be said for it. :-) But I did enjoy chatting to Rob and Bob on the radio this morning; we talked about a bunch of stuff, from steroids to whether Schilling or Johnson was the better arm. Think I surprised them when I said I thought Johnson was the best left-handed pitcher in baseball history, but in my mind, his strikeouts are proof of his utter dominance. At 10.8 K's per nine innings, he's far ahead of the next-best lefties in that statistic [Santana at 9.5 or Koufax at 9.3].
Anyway, moving on - much as I'm loathe to. For there really was not a single facet of the Diamondbacks' performance which was not wholly inadequate last night. Let's begin with the starting pitching, where the streak of fifteen games going five-plus innings with three earned runs or less, came to a grinding halt. Step up Doug Davis - trivia note, the opposition has reached double-digits five times this year; Davis started three of those games [though in one of them, he didn't actually allow an earned run!].
The tone was set immediately, with the first batter for Boston homering, and by the time the first D-back reached base, it was already 4-0 to the Sox. Davis lasted only four innings, giving up six hits, five runs, all earned and walking five. The resulting game score of 27 was the fifth-worst of the year for Arizona so far:
- Hernandez (May 12): 4 IP, 11 H, 1 BB, 8 ER, Game Score 10
- Owings (May 19): 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 7 ER, Game Score 16
- Davis (May 18): 4.2 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 7 ER, Game Score 19
- Hernandez (April 19): 5 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 7 ER, Game Score 20
- Davis (June 8): 4 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 5 ER, Game Score 27
Edgar Gonzalez sucked one up for the team, posting exactly the same number of inning, hits and runs as Davis. He did at least avoid any walks, so his Game Score would have been 35 - if that stat didn't apply only to starters. With the team eight runs down, that would have been a nice spot to use Brandon Medders, but he had been sent down to Tucson. Good to see Melvin finally realise what had been apparent to most of us for the past month - Medders is currently unfit, even for mop-up. In seven of his last ten appearances, he'd come in with the D-backs down, by an average of more than four runs: in two of the other three, he gave the opposition the lead [the Randy grand-slam fiasco, and Thursday's game against the Giants].
In the light of this, interesting quote from Melvin: "It's not a demotion in the fact that he's just pitching poorly. This is a guy who needs to be able to rotate in." And why is he not getting regular work? That would be because he's pitching poorly, Bob. Medders explains himself a little better though: "I need to get straightened out on my delivery, and the only way to get through it is to pitch." That seems like an honest assessment, and I do wish Medders all the best with that. He was a fine bullpen arm the past two seasons and if he can regain that form, we'll be glad to have him back.
Replacing him was Jailen Peguero. He was signed as a free-agent over the off-season, after the Astros let him go: at the moment, that looks like their loss, He had posted a miniscule 1.69 ERA for the Tucson Sidewinders, and in 32 innings, Peguero held opposing hitters to a .193 average, striking out 41. He certainly looked decent enough last night, fanning Varitek, then getting Crisp and Mirabelli, though three batters is probably a little bit too small of a sample-size to tell!
As for the offense, the sibling rivalry between their Drew and our Drew proved an utter no-contest: J.D. homered twice - doubling his tally for the season - and drove in seven runs, while Stephen went 0-for-4 with a K. Arizona overall managed only five hits, no walks and eight K's, letting Josh Beckett improve his record to 9-0, as he cruised through eight innings on only 92 pitches. About the only time we showed any fight was in the third, where we strung together a few hits, and should have scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate.
I say "should" because Alberto Callaspo became the latest entry in the Diamondbacks Hall of Shame, falling victim to a not-very subtle version of the Hidden Ball Trick. After making it to second-base, he didn't check the ball had been thrown back to the pitcher before breaking contact with the bag, and Lugo immediately punched his ticket off the basepaths. Shades of Terrero from 2005; and with the same pitcher on the mound too. Today should be the last we see of Callaspo, as it's expected Tracy will play one final rehab game down in Tucson, then rejoin the club on Sunday. If you're going to make minor-league mistakes like that, Alberto, you can make them down in the minor-leagues.
Understandably, a subdued GameDay Thread, with only about 15% of the comments we saw on Thursday. seton hall snake pit needed to start the thread in the diaries section (my bad - not the best of omens, that!), and once it arrived properly here, was followed up by singaporedbacksfan, icecoldmo, unnamedDBacksfan, Goose and npineda. Hopefully, things will be a little better tonight. Though, to be honest, they probably can't get much worse. Can they? 8-(
Worst of all last night, was perhaps the way Chase Field turned into Fenway Park West for the day. The Red Sox fans were not only more numerous, they were also a damn sight louder: okay, their team gave them a lot more to cheer about, but the apathy of the D-back fans is a painful and bitter experience in these situations. Saddened to read TAP's experience over at DBBP: "We had the entire 1st row chanting in unison last night until a lady came down and told us to shutup because we were ruining the game experience for her son." WTF? I'd have laughed at her, and doubled the volume.
Another sad note in the paper: Derrick Hall is looking at cutting the capacity of Chase by about 8,000. The plan would be to cover up the upper-deck seats to "improve the overall atmosphere". This shows a woeful lack of vision by management, who should really make more effort to fill the stadium, not just shrug their shoulders and cover up the issue. The comments on the story have some good suggestions there: running buses to the stadium from around the Valley, cutting the cost of those seats to nominal levels or even giving those tickets away to kids, which would help to build the fan-base in future. I particularly liked the idea of sending Baxter to the upper-deck too, but that's just because it'd get him out of our sight. :-)