Record: 3-2. Pace: 97-65. Change on last season: 0
They may be storing the balls in raspberry Jello or whatever at Coors these days, but a trip there still appears to be the perfect prescription to cure ailing bats: we have had at least one man reach base every inning so far. Arizona had more hits yesterday, than in the entire series against the Reds, and the two games thus far have raised the team's batting average from .154 to .241. Fifteen hits yesterday, with five of our eight starting position players having multi-hit games, and Conor Jackson and Justin Upton getting three hits apiece.
The former was both surprising and no shock: Jackson was still suffering from the lingering after-effects of a respiratory ailment, which was very obvious in the post-game interview. On the other hand, Jackson has owned Jeff Francis almost his entire career, and so seeing him back in the lineup was no surprise: that 3-for-4 off him yesterday improves CoJack's career average vs. Francis to .370 [10-for-27]. The good news for Arizona is, he also has excellent numbers against the aces of our other main rivals. He's batted .364 [8-for-22] against Jake Peavy, and .474 [9-for-19] against Brad Penny. Small sample sizes, obviously, but it's not difficult to see that Jackson will be crucial to the D-backs this season.
Chris Young also had a good day, making a statement early on by homering in his first at-bat, to lead off the game, and then adding another, with the score 3-2, to provide us with some much needed breathing space [we'd already blown two leads at that point, and keeping it a one-run game was asking for trouble, especially in Coors]. Interesting paragraph by Nick Piecoro, describing what happened in that at-bat by Young:
With a runner on in the sixth and ahead 3-1 in the count, Young thought back to his previous two at-bats. Both times Francis threw him change-ups. Both times, he grounded out. "If he's getting me out on it," Young thought, "why would he change it?" Francis threw another change-up, and Young hit it out for his sixth career multi-home run game... "Last year," Young said, "I might have been looking dead red the entire time, no matter what the count is, no matter what the situation is. That's the type of hitter I was. This year, I'm making an effort to make some adjustments."
Best of all, the second blast actually came with a runner on base - after nine consecutive solo homers from the team, I was beginning to wonder if Bud had passed some kind of rule forbidding the Diamondbacks from hitting the ball out of the park with anyone aboard. Young is tied with, perhaps surprisingly, Justin Upton, for the team lead, each having three homers.
Brandon Webb was masterful, continuing the form he showed against the Rockies in his last regular-season start of 2007, with just one earned run over seven innings, on five hits and a walk. Again, he made good use of his change-up, particularly against Taveras: "I kind of made some adjustments and hopefully I can continue that. I think I mixed it up maybe a hair more than I had been. I felt like I threw a lot of offspeed pitches, first-pitch curveballs and that kind of kept them off-balance and threw some changeups for strikeouts." He didn't even get flustered when Reynolds made errors on back-to-back balls hit to him in the second, which led to Colorado tying the score for the second time.
A couple of notes on defense. Reynolds' errors were bad; on the first, he couldn't get the ball out of his glove, forcing him to hurry a throw to second, which went wild. The second was perhaps even more embarrassing; he had plenty of time, and simply air-mailed his throw to first. However, he did redeem himself somewhat with a couple of good plays later on, notably with the bases-loaded in the eighth. Hudson also made a great dive to throw out the runner from his knees, saving a run; Young had a fine read on a deep drive to the track in center; and Drew took a hit and RBI away from Troyboy, diving to his right in the ninth, to leave Tulowitzki 0-for-5 on the day. My, how we laughed...
The Rockies certainly had their chances, but went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, their runs coming on a solo homer and a groundout. The most startling failures came against our bullpen, Tony Peña and Brandon Lyon putting Colorado men at third with no outs, in the eighth and ninth inning respectively. But both were stranded there: Peña's performance was particularly impressive, as he had loaded the bases, meaning the tying run was in the on-deck circle. But he struck out Atkins and Ianetta, then got Spilborghs to ground out to Reynolds. [Memo to Tony: please bear in mind, we got rid of Valverde for making things 'interesting'...] Medders, meanwhile, was saved by Drew's beautiful catch, previously mentioned.
A few words of comfort for the Rockies' fans, however. Despite scoring only eight runs in your first five games, your team is not actually that bad. There is no conceivable way they will continue to be so un-clutch: thus far, you are hitting just .095 [4-for-42] with runners in scoring position, and your hitters are below the Uecker line overall, at .198. This will not last, any more than the Padres batting .299, or the Braves hitting .370 with RISP. However, if you wouldn't mind continuing to suck for one more day, that'd be okay with us. I also note that the D-backs have been un-clutchy thus far too, just a .190 BA, but are still scoring a very respectable 5.2 runs per game. That's entirely because of their MLB-leading ten homers.
Most voluminous GT since Opening Day. It ended up past 600, and I didn't notice much slowdown, even towards the end. Present were: kishi, soco, seton hall snake pit, Russ, DbacksSkins, peachy rex, hotclaws, LucaMaz3, foulpole, Wimb, The Main Man, Captain D Bag, DiamondbacksWIn, frienetic, AZDarkKnight, snakecharmer, azshadowwalker, 4 Corners Fan, Craig from Az, singaporedbacksfan, TwinnerA, Silverblood, njjohn, dstorm and unnamedDBacksfan, so thanks to them for their input.
Got an email with an interesting fantasy twist from Jack Collins. He's running a fantasy league where your roster is all the players on a particular team. He's looking for someone to run the Diamondbacks, using the Diamondbacks roster - though, obviously, the opportunity for you to actually manage will be limited. If anyone is interested, drop me a line. First come, first served.
Gameday Thread to follow quite soon, I think, since it's a noon start.