Well, that was certainly an exciting game. It marked the return of Evil Chris Young after surviving that hellacious line drive from Albert Pujols. Doug Davis, a survivor of his own right, was his counterpart on the bump. And the two of them ended up putting up quite a show. One was seven outs away from a show for the ages. In the end, though, one outfield play may have taken top billing from everything else.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This started with what seemed like little optimism, as ECY struck out the side in both the first two innings, interrupted only by an Orlando Hudson single in the first. Granted, this team is extremely strikeout-prone, but it still seemed like a trip in the wrong direction. Young ultimately struck out seven the first time through the order, and the offense limped into the fifth with just two hits.
That was still two more hits than the Padres had to that point, however, because Doug Davis was pitching the game of his life. Working his changeup in peculiar spots in the count and keeping batters guessing by using his curve only occasionally, Davis squeaked through those five innings with no hits or walks allowed, and five strikeouts. His pitch count was manageable, and more importantly, the San Diego hitters showed no signs of being able to figure out the crafty left-hander.
ECY was chased after those five innings after hitting his 90-pitch limit on his first start back, and the Diamondbacks capitalized on his absence immediately. With one out, CoJack and Tony Clark both singled, putting runners on the corners. Reynolds reached on an error to score Jackson, Snyder walked to load 'em up, and Alex Romero tossed in two more runs with a base hit to center. Before another out was recorded and Hensley was finally pulled, all three of their runs had come around to score.
Bolstered by his strange, unfamiliar run support (although it would be silly to get too excited over another three-run "outburst"), Davis went back to work and set down the Padres in order in the sixth. Unfortunately, with two down in the seventh on his 93rd pitch, Davis left a 2-2 changeup that was supposed to be low and away over the plate, and Brian Giles smacked it to center for a base hit, ruining the unlikely perfect game and no-hitter in one fell swoop.
So all in all, it had been easy. Davis was spectacular, the offense just mediocre enough, and going into the Padre half of the eighth it was still a 3-0 game. That's when the heart attack part of the game started. Did Davis get a nice seat on the bench after his fabulous start? Nope, Melvin sent him back out to start the inning, despite being at 100 pitches, in line for the win and without any shot at immortality. Instead, he was left to fend off the wolves. He retired Kouzmanoff on a grounder, but then the wheels fell off as Davis completely hit the wall. He threw 19 more pitches to the next four hitters, but only six for strikes, as the bases were loaded on an infield hit and two walks. Only then did Melvin finally remove his starter, who still could not lose the game, but was in line to be stuck with a no decision. More importantly, the go-ahead run was at the plate in Jody Gerut, a situation that most certainly should not have occured.
Anyway, the situation was quickly dealt with, as Gameday accurately reveals:
-J Gerut flied out to right
And that was that. Okay, so it was more than a routine flyout. Gerut crushed a pitch into right-center, but only Petco and a fantastic basket catch about a foot short of the wall by Romero saved at least a bases-clearing double (and likely a grand slam in a number of parks) from completely changing the complexion of the game. Daron Sutton spent most of the top of the ninth in a quiet stupor, still in disbelief about the play. (Some would argue that it was an improvement, but there's already a thread devoted to that). Still, it was an exciting play and a fitting call, one that echoed the exuberant posts in the Gameday thread.
There was still another inning to be played, but it was largely inconsequential -- Grace accurately pointed out that the game had really been decided on Romero's play, and the rest was somewhat anticlimatic. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the top of the ninth with one out, but couldn't add any insurance runs, as Drew was out by a perfect throw at home trying to score on a wild pitch, and Tony Clark flailed wildly at the other three pitches to end the inning. Lyon came in and quietly (and blessedly for many people's heart rates) retired the side in the ninth with two strikeouts, and the series was leveled at one game apiece.
All starts sans Chris Young had a base hit -- Hudson had a trifecta of his own -- which explains why Good CY happened to get tagged with the dreaded GES. Not surprisingly, it was Davis' effort that predominately affected the win. None of the hitters were more than 10 percent.
Another solid GDT, with more than 500 comments, about 15 or so of which were on the level of "OHHHHHHH" after the play to end the bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Present were: Muu, Azreous, Jim McLennan, mrssoco, TwinnerA, AZWILDCATS, soco, kishi, foulpole, unnamedDBacksfan, AF DBacks Fanatic, snakecharmer, luckycc, AJforAZ, Scrbl, Frank Squishy, wrigleyrocker12, LucaMaz3, emilylovesthedbacks, peeklay and dahlian. As kishi pointed out, Romero's catch was No. 1 on SportsCenter's top plays. Unfortunately, Doug Davis still ends up taking second billing to John Lackey, who took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Red Sox, only to lose it with one out on a base hit by Dustin Pedroia. Still, despite the theatrics at the end, it was a win, the fourth in five games. We'll take 'em how we can get 'em.