Record: 13-4. Pace: 124-38. Change on last season: +3.
Today's game perhaps illustrated the greatest difference between this team and previous versions of the Diamondbacks. Last year, if the team was behind 3-1, and their only hit in the first five innings had been by their pitcher, it would probably have been time to plan for tomorrow. [In 2007, we were 10-50 when trailing after five innings] However, watching today's game, I felt little or no sense of despondency, more a calm certainty that our offense would come around. And lo, we scored a run in the sixth, added two more in the seventh to take the lead, and then blew it open by once again putting up a six-spot, Conor Jackson making both the first and the last out of the eighth inning.
I don't know if the Padres bullpen were still suffering a hangover from their 14 innings of work on Thursday. But Thatcher and Cameron, who'd thrown 24 and 27 pitches respectively in that marathon, proved pleasantly ineffective, combining for 1.2 innings, six hits, four walks and eight runs - though five were unearned, thanks to a complete miss of a grounder by Khalil Greene [I'm pretty sure the Gameday Thread resounded to the rafters after that one, though I have yet to check]. Thanks to the wildness [seven walks in total], we scored ten runs on only nine hits: Upton had a pair, though Byrnes reached safely twice on two walks and a hit.
Credit also to Jackson, who singled, then stole second and came home to score the tying run in the sixth on a single by Reynolds [Special K was thrown out on an ill-advised attempt to reach second, though the camera missed it entirely - all we got to see was Reynolds rolling in the infield dirt about ten feet past the base. Not quite sure what happened there] I know stealing off Josh Bard is like robbing the blind little match-girl, but he did so with such ease, I wouldn't be surprised to see him doing more. He seemed to enjoy showing off the new-found wheels: Jackson already has more triples this season (three) than in his 310 prior career games.
On the other hand, what was up with Orlando Hudson? I think someone needs to buy him a copy of the Official Rules. Last week, he tries to advance on an infield fly, then this afternoon, after our first two hitters get on, he tries to bunt them along, but gets called out for batter's interference, because his back foot was very obviously not in the box. Even if he'd done it right, it seems a strange decision - after the pitcher has walked the first two hitters, I'd be inclined to take a couple of pitches, and not give him an easy out, especially with the nuclear offense we are running out there these days. Did he do that on his own? Inquiring minds want to know: he has been scuffling lately, just 5-for-27 in the last seven games.
Solid enough outing by Edgar Gonzalez, who went six innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and four walks - he battled control problems, but the only damage came on a pair of long balls. Some discussion in the thread about how what we should expect from EdGon. While I share Foulpole and Phil's concern about his HR rate, Jeff Sackmann took a look at this over at The Hardball Times, and found that the ERA of the average #5 pitcher in 2006 was a meaty 6.24. In his 32 starts, Gonzalez's ERA is now 5.69 - and that's pitching in a distinctly hitter-friendly home-park. I don't think even Edgar's mother would describe him as a potential Cy Young winner, but as a back of the rotation fill-in until Doug Davis returns, he's a lot better than most teams have available. [In another piece, Sackmann also found most teams use between ten and twelve starters per season, suggesting that depth is an important aspect of any rotation]
Elsewhere on the pitching side, is anyone else a little concerned about Juan Cruz? Sure, his ERA is a very nice 2.35, with only four hits in 7.2 innings. But after today, he has now walked eight hitters already - tied for most on the club, even including all the starters. Last season, he'd only walked eight hitters on June 7, though did have some time on the DL. His raw "stuff' seems as good as ever; I think I saw him hit 99 mph on the radar gun this afternoon. But a lot of the pitches that were missing the mark were not anywhere close to the plate. No damage today though; still, something to keep an eye on. Chad Qualls extended his scoreless streak with another zero, and Brandon Lyon, having warmed up, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in what was a non-save situation, thanks to our six runs in the bottom of the eighth.
I got to watch this one at my sister-in-law's, while enjoying some extremely tender ribs [not normally a fan; much like wings, they're often more trouble than they're worth, but these just fell off the bone], tiramisu and Stella Artois. The latter may have been partly responsible for my complete failure to understand Joe Garagiola Sr. when he started trying to burble about BABIP and what it meant. I love Joe, and think it's great he's trying to understand the new baseball math - even if the result is like watching your grandfather attempt to program the iPod he was given as an ill-advised Christmas present. However...a little more edumification on the basics, before attempting to discuss it on television, would help avoid him sound like the infamous "the Internet is a series of tubes" politician.
Anyway, present in the Gameday Thread here were: paqs, Captain D Bag, peachy rex, kishi, foulpole, DbacksSkins, soco, Philip from LA, seton hall snake pit, Snakebitten [welcome!], azshadowwalker, dahlian, Wimb, 4 Corners Fan, hotclaws [loved the macro!], Craig from Az, njjohn, singaporedbacksfan, Songbird and oklahomasooners. Though Skins appeared to spend more time over at GLB, posting pics of co-eds, in an apparently successful attempt to thaw relations with them. Perhaps this is something the State Department should look into: "Hey, Al Qaeda! Drop the jihad stuff and we'll give you all lifetime subscriptions to Maxim." It's insane, but...it...just...might...work...
Anyway, another series win in the back, and we continue to roll, with our fourth win in a row. The Rockies have matched us there, but the Padres (5.5 back) and Dodgers (six behind) are already beginning to find themselves looking up at a sizable gap. We've now scored exactly double the runs of our opponents in the 17 games so far, 112-56 - no other team in the majors has even reached three figures for runs. Long may that continue. And, finally, some good news on the Doug Davis front:
Nine days after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer, Arizona LHP Doug Davis threw from 120 feet on Saturday afternoon. "I felt real good out there throwing the ball," Davis said. "I don’t feel any different right now than I did before surgery. A little sore in the neck area." Davis has targeted May 9 at the Chicago Cubs for his return to the rotation.
Get well soon, Doug, needless to say.