Record: 45-46. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -4
You know things are pretty bad when the worst team in the National League blanks the Diamondbacks. The Nationals replied to our six-hit shutout from yesterday, with a three-hitter of their own on our offense - which has suddenly decided to entirely give up making any significant effort. I know the Washington stadium is pitcher-friendly, but over the past two games the Arizona line-up is hitting .125, having gone 7-for-56.
The word "pathetic" doesn't seem to do that level of ineptitude justice, somehow. I'm not sure there is a single word - or even several of them, placed next to each other for literary effect - which can quite capture the depths to which we have sunk here. Even the Associated Press recap sank to previously-unseen levels of sarcasm:
The game pitted the two worst hitting teams in the National League as well as two pitchers without a victory in their last 14 combined starts. On Tuesday, the teams played a 2-0 game in which neither run was earned. The product, therefore, was mind-numbing... For the first five innings, the game almost deserved to be rained out, but somehow the dark and stormy clouds that virtually surrounded Nationals Park managed to dump their rain elsewhere.
Conor Jackson reached safely twice, on a walk and a single. Hudson and Owings also singled, but the Diamondbacks didn't need to worry about failing to hit with runners in scoring position today. That's because they didn't get any runners into scoring position, failing to advance anyone beyond first-base. Part of the reason for that was that they managed to hit into four double-plays, during the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. You have to admire, in a deeply-perverse way, any team where the twin killings they hit into, outnumber the actual hits. [Perhaps surprisingly, that's not a first for the D-backs: in particular, it's an eerie echo of a game against Florida on August 9th, 2005, where we had three hits, four double-plays...and lost 5-0.]
I think we'd better leave the festering cess-pit which was our offense today, before I re-enact the most memorable moments from The Exorcist, directly onto my monitor. Let's turn, instead, to Micah Owing's, ah, "interesting" performance today. He left after 5.2 innings, having allowed one run at that point. This would seem to suggest a very solid outing: however, the manner in which that run made its way round the bases will shed some light on the reality. Single, hit by pitch, hit by pitch, bases-loaded walk. All told, Micah allowed nine base-runners - only one of whom actually earned their way there with a hit.
There were five walks and no less than three hit batters for Owings - that gives him 11, tied for the major-league lead with Cabrera of Baltimore, and he has thrown 26.1 more innings than our pitcher. After today, I'm beginning to think the best song to play for Micah as he comes up, is probably Front 242's Headhunter. The trio today already put his 2008 season at tied for fifth on the franchise all-time single season record, so we'll keep an eye as we go forward and see if he can threaten the mark of 18, set in 2001 by - who else? - Randy Johnson. Three also ties the franchise record for a game, done five times, most recently by the late Joe Kennedy. He managed to do it in an appearance that lasted exactly one out, against the Marlins.
Still, despite a severe case of wildness, it was only 1-0 to Washington when Owings left, so he did keep us in the game. This is more than can be said for Connor Robertson, however. Brought in with two on and two out in the sixth, he was clearly auditioning for the Chad Qualls role, recently vacated by Chad Qualls, as Designated Inherited Runner Scorer. Robertson first allowed an RBI double, and then a three-run homer to Jesus Flores - who hadn't had an extra-base hit of any kind since June 14. Mop-up duty was hastily scheduled for Rosales and Petit, who managed to post zeros in the remaining two innings, though the way we were hitting, they could have each thrown a complete-game shutout and we would still have trailed the Nationals.
To add to the joy you're no doubt experiencing if you saw any of this atrocious performance, Justin Upton was dropped from the lineup after he pulled a rib cage muscle during batting practice. Said Bob Melvin, "It certainly could be a DL, not sure, we'll know more tomorrow." Great. Just great. Looks like we will be enjoying the comic potential of Emilio Bonifacio in right-field again tomorrow, and possibly for some time to come. I can only quote Diamondhacks' reaction in the Gameday Thread, after a Bono misplay that gave the Nats a 2-0 lead: "When Bonifacio ran in on that ball over his head, I think that was the fastest I’ve ever seen an out of position player run the wrong way on a ball. Verrrry exciting player."
Witnesses for the prosecution today were golfmanthee, DbacksSkins, Zephon, nihil67, emilylovesthedbacks, LucaMaz3, 4 Corners Fan, hotclaws, srdmad, nargel, victor frankenstein, Muu, Wimb, SunDevilsDen, Scrbl, kishi, Diamondhacks and AZWILDCATS [welcome!]. Once again, we drop back into a tie with the Dodgers for first-place, as they pipped the Braves by the odd run in three. Was this our worst performance of the season to date? It certainly has to rank down there near the bottom. Still, we send out Dan Haren tomorrow who, like Webb, blanked the Nationals the last time he started. But based on today's (lack of) hitting, I think he may need to do so again, for the team to have any chance to win. It may depend on who gives up most unearned runs...