Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 3: Doug Davis Deftly Dodges Dodger Disaster

Record: 69-65. Pace: 83-79. Change on last season: -5
Magic number: 24. Playoff odds: 80.9%
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For six and a half innings, that has to count among the most nerve-wracking baseball games I've ever attended. I was positive that the Diamondbacks were going to find a way, somehow, to screw this up. There were two moments in particular, where I would have bet several, fairly-major internal organs that the Dodgers were about to blow the game apart. The first was in the opening inning, where Doug Davis was as good at locating the strike-zone as... Well, my metaphorometer just imploded on that one: after 22 pitches, only six had been over the plate. He'd loaded the bases and fallen behind Loney 2-0. However, somehow, he got the Dodger batter to ground-out and posted a zero.

We'll get back to Doug's escapology later. Fast-forward, however, to the top of the seventh where Los Angeles had made it a one-run game against Cruz. Kirk Gibson - for reason, again, we'll discuss in due course, Bob Melvin was not about - pulled Famine and sent in the Equallsizer. However, he promptly allowed another single, to put the tying run in scoring position with only one out. I haven't checked the Gameday Thread yet, but I can only imagine 'Skins readying his explanatory diagram about the folly of using Qualls with runners on base. However, disaster - and a possible ninth loss for our reliever - were averted, with the aid of a 4-6-3 double-play that ended the inning, and proved also to end the Dodgers' last hope.

At that stage, I was still not looking forward to the last six outs. And just for clarification, that's "not looking forward to," in much the same way one would, for example, not look forward to exploratory root canal work, without anesthetic, performed by a chisel-wielding maniac with a grudge. The prospect of seeing Rauch and Lyon getting a vote of confidence, in the shape of one-run lead to defend, was actually making my stomach physically churn [though I admit the meatball sandwich and garlic fries probably didn't help in this area]. I would therefore like to thank the offense for saving my digestive system from further punishment, by putting up a four-spot in the bottom of the seventh, to turn this into a comfortable margin.

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Good to see us get back the Max Factor, touching 98 on the radar-gun

Doug Davis. [Yeah, this report is going to be all over the place. I'm pretty much just writing down stuff as I remember it] In the middle of the fourth, this was still a 0-0 game, but that simply goes to illustrate how you can take two utterly-different routes to the same end. Davis's zero had been in spite of allowing five hits and two walks, with Los Angeles leaving six men on base, three of them in scoring position, Kuroda, on the other hand, had been perfect, retiring all nine men he faced. This being baseball, of course, it was Kuroda who got tagged first, Dunn doubling nicely down the left-field line to score Young, who'd ended the perfecto as the eleventh man up, with a clean single to center.

However, Doug's bullet-dodging came to a grinding halt in the fifth, and it was partly his own fault, as he failed to get over and cover first-base, on a ball hit down the line. By the time he got there, Ethier had got his toe on the bag first. Mandy singled him over, and then Ethier stole third - one of three successful SB attepmpts against Davis this evening, which is not his usual modus operandi. However, it looked like the runner should have been called out at third; not the only dubious call to go against Arizona this evening, though since we won, I won't be making too much of a fuss about them.

A sacrifice fly and a single gave Los Angeles the lead at 2-1, and the irritating Dodger fans [I particularly despite the ones in the 'Ramirez #99' shirts - yeah, that will be a good long-term investment...] were making their presence felt, though a clearly-gassed Davis got out of the inning without further damage, having survived five innings, thrown 98 pitches, allowed eight hits and three walks, but only two runs, both earned. It was far from his best performance of the year, but he did what he has done with a fair degree of regularity since coming to Arizona: keep his team in the game, despite a near-gridlock of opposing players on the base-paths.

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The Dunninator takes a hearty swing

The game immediately swung back Arizona's way in the bottom half, after Tracy singled and Snyder walked. Ojeda went up there attempting to bunt, but fouled off the first two attempts. He then grounded into a potential double-play, but Nomah fluffed the throw badly, allowing Tracy to score and put two men in scoring position. Davis was pinch-hit for [while, yes, we should praise Melvin for making good decisions, this was not exactly difficult - after Tracy's hit, my first comment to Mrs. SnakePit was, "Good, Davis's spot will come up and they'll have to PH for him] and Salazar drove in the go-ahead run with a single. The amusing thing on that play was seeing Chip Hale at third, basically blocking Ojeda from going down the line - Augie having run through a rare Hale stop-sign a while ago. But The Littlest Ballplayer got to trot home on a Drew sacrifice fly, and we finished the inning back ahead, 4-2.

However it did end in interesting fashion. Jackson was called out for fan interference after a fan leaned over and caught a foul ball which James Loney was heading towards, down the right-field line. Now, there's no doubt that the fan was in the wrong, and was clearly leaning into the field of play. But from where I was sitting, I don't think Loney would have made the play, and that's also a deciding factor in whether or not to call fan interference. My instinct was, the umpire blew the call - and Melvin apparently agreed, coming out and arguing the point so vehemently, that the first-base umpire tossed him from the game, Bob's second ejection of the season. "That was a little bit of a misunderstanding," Melvin said. "I did say a bad word which would get me thrown out."

Sheesh, i'd better get this wrapped up. I think I've covered most of the important stuff. Justin Upton returned, and smoked a pinch-hit double in his first at-bat. Max Scherzer also came back, with a fine eighth innings. Romero and Rosales were the two people sent down to Tucson, though I suspect they may well both be back up in a couple of days, when the rosters expand. Two hits for Young, two and a walk for Dunn, Reynolds got a hit and a walk, and Snyder continued his impressive plate discipline with a pair of walks.

Game Notes

  • I was surprised to see that were only 32,610 there - I'd have expected more, since that's almost six thousand less than the last Friday game at Chase against the Dodgers, just after the All-Star break
  • Unexpected giveaway tonight, in the shape of a Diamondbacks travel mug, courtesy of Panda Express. And, of course, about forty thousand BEAT LA signs.
  • That helped make up for the AC, which seemed to be struggling all night long, even down on our lower level. There hardly seemed to be any cold air flowing at all, though perhaps the humidity had something to do with that.
  • There was an embarrassing failure of the scoreboard during our three-run rally in the fifth, with the board getting badly stuck. It at first refused to acknowledge we'd scored a second run, wouldn't move past displaying Salazar's stats and also couldn't perform basic math. Can you see something wrong with the following?
    Dodgers_2008-08-29_013_medium
    The boxscore then vanished entirely, being replaced by 'Welcome to Chase Field', before finally settling down, no doubt after a frantic call to tech support.
  • But that wasn't the only glitch - when they tried to go split-screen for the Sausage Race, the right-hand image, supposedly of Vanessa and the contestants, was all squished and distorted like a fun-house mirror, much to the host's disconcertion. Really, you'd think they'd have got the bugs out of the $10-12 million system by now.
  • Tommy Lasorda was present, sitting a couple of rows behind the Dodgers dugout, but also getting his picture taken with fans, etc. I did see Vin Scully too, poking his head out from the broadcast booth above us.
  • Yes, there did appear to be 'something' going on in the left-field bleachers in the late inning of the game. I'm thinking it was some kind of brawl, but it was too far away for me to see. However, the people at the front of the section had basically abandoned the game, turning their backs on it, so whatever it was, was clearly quite interesting...
  • We tried chanting, "4.5 games up! 4.5 games up!" as we left, but it didn't quite have the same ring. Didn't even stay around for the fireworks tonight, since we have to get ready for tomorrow. I'm sure they were basically the same as the other six times we've seen them this season.

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[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Augie Ojeda, +16.4%
Honorable mentions: Dunn, +12.8%; Qualls, +10.2%
God-emperor of suck: Juan Cruz, -6.0%

Looks like almost 800 comments this evening, an impressive total despite my absence. Took me a while to plow through them, but it seemed like a lot of fun - beating our nearest rival does, of course help! Present were: Azreous, 4 Corners Fan, foulpole, DbacksSkins, kishi, unnamedDBacksfan, AJforAZ, garyho, azwebber17, LucaMaz3, Wimb, Snakebitten, TwinnerA, pepperdinedevil, Diamondhacks, Scrbl, Zephon, hotclaws, Gravity, luckycc, njjohn, srdmad and soco.

Obviously, a huge, huge victory for the team: this was the game in the series I was most concerned about losing, and to take the win gives us a great boost. The worst that can happen now is, the Dodgers leave town still 2.5 games back, and with Webb plus Haren going in the remaining two contests, I am hoping we will be significantly better than that. A split would put us 4.5 ahead, with the Dodgers only having 25 games left to catch up. I shall certainly sleep well tonight... Not much from me until Sunday. I've already written the Gameday Thread, so that should appear automagically tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully you folk will cope without me, and I'll wake up the day after tomorrow to read of more success.

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