The 2008 'Pitties: Performance of the Year

With the votes now tallied up for Game of the Year, that one resulted in a comfortable victory for the amazing comeback against the Brewers at the start of July. While that may have been the best team performance delivered by the Diamondbacks in 2008, what was the finest individual performance, by a single player, during the course of the past season? Here are the five nominees in this category, with some background to refresh your memory, and a quote from each of the players involved.

Conor Jackson, runs through the cycle, April 18 vs. SDP
"I'm not going to lie, of course it crossed my mind. But I think one out, runner on third is also pretty appealing." If there was a more clear example of a player putting team before self, it was Conor Jackson, who came up in the sixth inning needing a double to complete the cycle. When his drive got past a despairing Jim Edmonds, that was assured, but even though the score was 7-0, instead of stopping on second, CoJack opted to go on to third, to give Mark Reynolds an RBI opportunity - which he duly converted with a sacrifice fly. Jackson finished the night with four hits, four RBI and three runs, the only Diamondback to complete that feat this season.

Max Scherzer, debut, 4.1 perfect innings, 7 K, April 29 vs. HOU
"Nothing's perfect. There are still things I can get better at... I did have at times good command tonight, but there were times I missed my spot. I can always go back and work on doing something better." Hard to see how Scherzer could have improved on his major-league debut though, in which he came in during the third after an Edgar Gonzalez meltdown. He merely retired all thirteen batters he faced, in 4.1 perfect innings. That's the longest no-hit debut since Bill Dillman threw a no-hitter over the last five innings during his debut for Baltimore, in April 1967. But Scherzer walked nobody and fanned seven, throwing only 47 pitches, 35 for strikes.

Doug Davis, return, 7 innings, one earned run, May 23 vs. ATL
"Everybody gave me a hug and said, 'Good job,' Every time I hugged somebody, I just felt very blessed to have them behind me as much as they are... It was just good to be back out there competing at the Major League level" After getting his cancerous thyroid removed, Doug Davis's return to the mound proved a triumphant one, as the Diamondbacks crushed the Braves 11-1. They scored five time before Davis even took the mound, and hammered five homers, but even more impressive was DD allowing one run over seven innings, in his first time facing major-league hiters in almost seven weeks. It took just 89 pitches, allowing only five singles and two walks.

Stephen Drew, cycle plus, September 1 vs. STL
"I'm just trying to put good ABs together. It was meant to be... To hit for the cycle, it's fun, but it wouldn't have really meant anything to me if we didn't win." With season highs for hits (five) and total-bases (12), Drew also became the third player in franchise history to hit for the cycle. He singled in the first, tripled in the third,  homered in the fifth and a ground-rule double in the seventh earned him a standing ovation. He then added another double in the eighth, as Arizona came back from 5-1 down to take the win. Justin Upton may remember the game somewhat less fondly, however, having been hit on the head by a pick-off throw. Adrian Beltre also cycled, the first day two players have done it since 1920.

Randy Johnson, complete-game two-hitter, September 28 vs. COL
"I guess you really couldn't ask for anything more the way the game ended today. To go nine innings and to have everything kind of develop the way it did, it's a nice way for everybody to end the season." Measured by Game Score, this was tied with Haren's 12 K shutout of the Giants, just 12 days previously. But Haren is not 45 and possibly pitching his last game for the Diamondbacks. Given that, no-one would have blamed Johnson for phoning this one in, but instead it was his best start since the Atlanta perfecto. He allowed only two singles and one walk, and Johnson needed a mere 31 pitches to get through the last four innings, retiring all 12 batters faced. If you're going to go out, that's probably the way to do it, I'd say.

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