Record: 12-4. Pace: 122-40. Change on last season: +2
It's amazing how relaxed a time you can have, when the Win Probability for the Diamondbacks reaches 93.9% before your hitters have made the second out in the first inning. Quite a contrast to the last game I got to watch - Randy's first start, where the defense combusted spontaneously, on its way to a one-run defeat. The difference, on every level, between the two teams tonight was startling. Yeah, I know the Padres had come off a demoralizing 22-inning defeat and arrived in Arizona at 4am. But that last time I saw a performance phoned in to such a degree, was when I watched Cellular. Tonight was a mismatch, on a level not seen since the Christians had a three-game series on the road versus the Lions at the Coliseum in Rome. The Gameday Thread on GLB didn't turn up until their team was down seven; actually, neither did the Padres.
Certainly, that first inning was unique in my experiences at Chase as we scored six runs and sent eleven men to the plate. Let's just review it in full, shall we?
- C. Young singled to left
- E. Byrnes singled to right center, C. Young to second
- O. Hudson flied out to deep center, C. Young to third
- C. Jackson tripled to deep right center, E. Byrnes and C. Young scored
- M. Reynolds singled to pitcher
- J. Upton singled to center, C. Jackson scored, M. Reynolds to third, J. Upton to second advancing on throw
- S. Drew intentionally walked
- C. Snyder doubled to right, S. Drew, J. Upton and M. Reynolds scored
- D. Haren lined out to first
- C. Young walked
- E. Byrnes flied out to right
The key was, I think, Chris Snyder taking personally Maddux walking Drew to get him, and clearing the bases with a double into the gap. We already had a three-run lead at that point, but Snyder doubled it. We might still have been batting - or, at least, added the extra point after the touchdown - but for Gonzalez robbing Haren of a hit on a laser down the line. I have to say, Dan looks quite "hitterish", as Mark Grace would say: while he's not Micah v2.0 perhaps, he has good at-bats for a pitcher who spend the last three season in the American League. Some day he's going to run into a pitch, and it could be interesting.
Nice comment from a fan behind us after that outburst: "Guess it's not going to take us twenty-two innings to beat San Diego." That pretty much summed up the atmosphere at Chase; from then on, the only anticipation left available to fans were the fireworks after the game. Though the D-backs offense provided some more of their own, notably Conor Jackson, who chose to run through the cycle, instead becoming the first D-back to triple twice in a game since Robbie Hammock, on June 8, 2003. Eleven total bases or more in a game had only been done seven times before by a D-back at Chase [the last was Mark Reynolds, in his 5-for-5 with two homers contest], so I'm glad to have caught this once-per-season or less event.
Plenty of praise to throw around though. Our 4-5-6 hitters [Jackson, Reynolds and Upton] were a combined 9-for-12 with six RBI and six runs. Upton had three hits, while Reynolds and Byrnes both had a pair of knocks. And let's not forget Dan Haren - while he may have been overshadowed by the early offensive explosion, he still threw seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits and one walk, to reduce his ERA for the season down to 1.80. Medders and Petit followed up and retired all six hitters they faced. The defense was also solid, with particularly-good plays by Reynolds, Drew and Young, the last named covering a ton of ground in center to preserve the shutout.
Despite his loosing of some non-PG language, I do have to give credit to Greg Maddux, for going out there and throwing 113 pitches, giving his team seven innings, on a night when he was clearly sucking one up for the team - and after the first, gave them a quality start. He hasn't thrown that many since September 2005; the time before that was June 2001. He has never allowed nine earned runs in a game before, and this was his 711th start. But he gave the bullpen the night off they desperately needed. In hindsight, scoring six in the first may have been counter-productive, since it basically ended any realistic chance San Diego had here. If had been close, we could have lured them into pulling Maddux early with the illusion that they might win, and then taken their bullpen out for the entire series.
Still, I'll happily settle for an emphatic nine-run victory, which takes us to 11-2 against our divisional rivals. I know they say titles can't be won in April, but heck, if we extrapolate from the first 10% of the season, and things continue as they have, we will win the NL West by forty-one games. That's how dominating this team has been over the first stretch of the season.
- Roof open! Was a little surprised at that, but it was pretty much a perfect night. They said it was 85 degrees outside, about ten cooler inside at the time of first pitch.
- The new Jumbotron is pretty slick, despite some glitches tonight which had, for example, Chris Young's pic up there, but Chris Snyder's stats still hanging over from his at bat. Nice to see them use, and explain, things like OPS, and Mrs. SnakePit also appreciated the graphic showing who was on base where.
- Taking your kids to the ballgame is nice. Having to sit next to said kids, when their interest in the game has clearly waned - and been replaced by seeing how hard they can bang their seats down - is not so nice.
- Fireworks = mildly cool. Though there seemed a distinct lack of variety. They go up, they go pop, they explode into a sphere. I seem to remember there being different styles when I was young. However, that was in a country where they sold fireworks over the counter - the best ones had the instructions entirely in Chinese... I wonder if they have to clear the area of airplanes?
- The dreaded wave made an entirely-expected appearance in the sixth, and the Padres immediately threated. I was depressed to see how many people are still amused by waving their arms in the air and going "Woooo!" Still, this is also the country where American Idol is the most popular TV show, which explains a lot, I feel
- I do sense prices have dropped at the concession stands, which is great to see. Two Polish dogs, a large fries and a large soda cost us $20.25, which seems less than last season.
Okay, the graph above is more of an artist's impression, but I think you'll find it good enough for most practical purposes. :-) soco, unnamedDBacksfan, Captain D Bag, kishi, foulpole, seton hall snake pit, Wimb, hotclaws, Philip from LA, oklahomasooners, snakecharmer, DbacksSkins, Muu, peachy rex, frienetic, njjohn, Azreous, Turambar, babypuncher [welcome!], singaporedbacksfan, 4 Corners Fan and victor frankenstein were present in the Gameday Thread here, which bobbled along in the warm glow, much as you would expect.
Okay, we were facing a team who have now scored three runs in the last 43 innings and have batted .152 over the past six games. They don't have an offense, they have a futile. But they are still professional ball-players, and do not like having their asses kicked in a humiliating fashion. I know that if the boot was on the other foot, the D-backs would want to get right out there and prove themselves; I've little doubt the same is true for the Padres. With their bullpen now a little bit rested, and with their #2 on the mound this evening, against our #5, this series is not over by a long way. But, for one night, I was a privilege to watch our Arizona Diamondbacks, and see close-up why, right now, they are the best team in baseball.