Record: 37-31. Pace: 88-74. Change on last season: -1
Breaking records here and there: your 2008 Arizona Diamondbacks. For the first time in Dbacks history, we've now played three straight extra inning games. After finishing 9 full innings tied at love all, Chad Tracy came through with the first walkoff home run of his career to win the game 1-0 in the bottom of the 10th inning. It was our first 1-0 win since August 11th of last year, when Webby beat Washington's John Lannan during Brandon's gazillion-inning scoreless streak. All told, we played in a total of four 1-0 games last year -- two of them wins by Webb, one an EdGon loss to Zito, (ouch!) and one 1-0 win last August 3rd -- pitched by Double D against Chad Billingsley in Los Angeles. Yep, the same Double D who shut out the woeful Royals for 7 innings tonight, to give our bullpen a bit of much-needed relief. Davis sprinkled 5 singles, a double, and 4 walks through 7 frames while striking out 7 Royals as well; in the process, lowering his season ERA from 4.88 to 3.99. If there's any night he deserved to win, it was tonight, yet he was stuck with a no decision.
It's a damned good thing our pitching was so good, too. I find my tongue planted firmly in cheek in calling the Royals woeful, because the Diamondbacks hitters tonight were abysmal. Granted, Zach Greinke is no scrub, and our hitters always seem to do badly when facing a starter for the first time, but even though Greinke held us to 1 Tracy single and 2 Drew singles through those 7 innings, we had plenty of chances to score. Why? Because Greinke walked a whopping seven (count 'em!) hitters -- over 7 innings. Royals reliever Ron Mahay added an 8th walk in the bottom of the 9th. Upton, in the 8 spot, was the recipient of 3 of those, and Drew, CoJack, Tracy, Reynolds, and Snyder all drew free passes as well. In fact, Hudson and Young were the ONLY members of our starting 8 not to reach on balls. Snyder also singled in the 8th. So, what did we do with those 12 baserunners through the first 9 innings? Well.... you get the picture. It was UGLY. In the 2nd, Greinke walked Upton to load the bases and get to Davis, who promptly obliged by grounding back to the mound. He's Doug Davis; can't really blame him for THAT. However, the very next inning, on a Drew single and walks to Tracy and CoJack, the bases were loaded with two outs for Reynolds. It wasn't too much of a shocker (although it was quite a disappointment) when Reynolds struck out on a full count to end the inning. To be blunt, you're not going to win too many freaking games when you strand 12 men through 9, and we were only lucky to score before Kansas City did. I sure hope that the entire starting lineup bought the beer for Davis tonight.
As noted, Upton continued his torrid rate of -- walking, and he's now on pace for a Bondsian 93 by the end of the season. Lefties Drew and Tracy were both 2-4 with a walk each, and... those were basically the bright spots of the offense, plus Snyderman's single in the 8th. On the other hand, our leadoff hitter -- no, in this case, our leadoff batter -- who will remain nameless, wore the Texas star, going 0-5, including 4 strikeouts. At least two of those, it should be noted, were called third strikes at least an inch and a half inside. In fact, on the night, it seemed home plate umpire Lance Barksdale decided to move the entire dish 2 inches inside without telling anyone; from my own viewing, it seemed that the inside corner was being called a strike with extreme prejudice, while the outside 2 inches of the plate was not. It was like having an NL strike zone on the inside and an AL strike zone on the outside. I may respectfully suggest that Barksdale have his peripheral vision checked.
Both starters left after putting up seven goose eggs, but neither team fared well against the bullpen, either. Obviously, Arizona's was slightly sharper than Kansas City's, with Qualls, Peña and former Royal and AAA callup Billy Buckner (for the last time... NO RELATION) combining for 3 shutout innings, no walks, 3 strikeouts and only a blown call on a ball that was actually caught by Upton and ruled a single. Buckner, in his first appearance with the Diamondbacks since being traded from the Royals for Alberto "I-can't-hit-a-ball-but-I-can-hit-my-wife" Callaspo, gave up a few hard hit balls but, with the exception of the aforementioned blown call, pitched an otherwise perfect top of the 10th to earn the win. It was a damn good thing Tracy was able to walkoff the team against Yasuhiko "Say-my-name-five-times-fast" Yabuta, because our bullpen right now is more like a cage full of double amputees. I think I saw Augie jogging down to the 'pen to warm up right before Tracy won it for us.
It's worth noting that both Chad Qualls and Tony Peña seem to have gotten through their rough patches, with both coming out and packing heat and looking pretty sharp on the mound. Peña hasn't allowed a run now since mid-May, and his ERA is down to a more 2007-like 2.84; Qualls got a K, a K, and a grounder in his inning, and lowered his ERA to 2.45.
That EKG-like printout (which appears to culminate in a cocaine overdose) is not exactly a ringing endorsement of our offense; besides Tracy, only Drew (+5.1%) and Upton (+2.0%) were in the black. Greinke, of course, also received the same +45.3% as Davis, and just like Johan Santana yesterday, Davis and Greinke were rewarded with... Chacon's bane, the no-decision.
The GameDay Thread was talkative and, as always, eclectic; topics included science fiction books, foulpole's player nicknames, Emily's sign for tomorrow, mrssoco's love of all Dbacks first basemen, and the suggestion that I have a Napoleonic complex. For the second night in a row, we were careful not to post an overflow thread while transitioning to extras, although we ended up with over 610 comments. Present and accounted for were 4 Corners Fan, TwinnerA, Jim, foulpole, Muu, myself, emilylovesthedbacks, hotclaws, soco, kishi, unnamedDBacksfan, Stile4aly, DiamondbacksWIn, Azreous, dstorm, UofAZGrad, luckycc, dahlian, srdmad, mrssoco, and Zephon.
Although we usually score more than... oh, I dunno, one run while at home, I'll take the end result, and we start this homestand 1-0. Randy Johnson goes for his 289th win... again... tomorrow, and you KNOW he's gotta be frustrated. So, you won't want to miss what happens to the first Royals batter who so much as accidentally spits a sunflower seed shell in his general direction. I'll say this much: there will be blood.
Hopefully, Mr. and Mrs. Snakepit enjoyed the fireworks after the game, despite the lack of fireworks IN the game through the first 9, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we're all pretty disappointed that the Snakepits weren't shown on camera. Now Jim HAS to tell us what his sign(s) said.
Jim's Game Notes
- Met up with Shoe for drinks before, and discussed how to relieve the problems ailing the team's offense. Trying a few more bunt hits seems like a good idea: not only would we have a good chance to succeed with the speed of Upton, Young, etc. but forcing the infield to play in would also help.
- Young looked awful in the leadoff spot, going 0-for-5 with 4 K's. It took him eleven pitches, over three at-bats, before he touched the ball. Drew had a couple of solid hits, and looked pretty good; Upton had three walks though one was intentional and another unintentionally-intentional; and I was pleased to see Tracy round into form. The rest of the lineup? Sheesh.
- What is up with chief Rallyback Mike's hair? And whatever it is, can he please stop it?
- Doug Davis's curve = awesome. First time he's pitched seven shutout innings at Chase since joining us,
- When the announcement came in the ninth, "Now pitching for Arizona, Billy Buckner," the sense of "Who?" was palpable.
- We sit twenty-two rows back, looking up the third-base line, and even we knew Justin Upton caught that ball. How in hell did the four umpires get together and come to a different conclusion? If we'd lost due to that, I'd have been miffed. Looked like it rattled Buckner, and the double-play which followed was a blessed relief.
- The pitch before Tracy's homer, he just fouled off an 0-2 pitch that ended up about three feet behind home plate.
- The firework show was appropriately Friday the 13th themed, with music from Psycho, Jaws, The Twilight Zone, Ghostbusters, Friday the 13th and Attack of the Giant Leeches. Ok, maybe not the last one.
- Afterwards, more beers with Shoe and Scott S, where we picked their brains about a possible baseball trip for Mrs. SnakePit and I, to Washington and Philadelphia next month. Good times.
Random fun facts
- Last team to play three consecutive extra-inning game and concede less than the seven runs we've allowed: the Braves in September 1993.
- Second 1-0, extra-inning win in franchise history. First was the 18-inning monster vs. the Giants, May 29, 2001.
- First walk-off homer since Tony Clark's in the 11th against Atlanta, July 27 last year.
- The two teams combined to leave twenty-one runners on base before Chad sent us all home. That number hasn't been surpassed in a 1-0 NL game, since September 2, 2001, where Arizona stranded 19 and San Diego 5, as we went down 1-0 in thirteen innings. The one before that was the marathon against the Giants mentioned above, where thirty were left on base.
And since Skins asked, here's our sign... :-)