Record: 75-76. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -9
Elimination number: 8. Playoff odds: Thin.
Well, that game was interesting. Didn't start well, didn't end well, but the middle was segment was pretty good, and, in the end, that was enough.
The top of the first was just bizarre. Webb only threw 13 pitches, and only gave up a few weak hits, but those, plus an error by Adam Dunn, were enough to spot the Giants a 3 run lead going into the bottom of the first. It seemed very strange, and left you with the sinking feeling that though we might not be seeing bad Webb out on the mound today, but unlucky Webb. Factor in how anemic our offense has been lately- they've only managed more than 3 runs twice in our last thirteen games- and I couldn't help worrying about this game.
Fortunately, the team at least fought back. Drew led off the first with a double, and though we still couldn't get a hit with a runner in scoring position, we at least managed to get some productive outs, as Justin Upton advanced the runner and Conor Jackson brought him in with a sacrifice fly. Still, the Diamondbacks managed to put together a truly depressing run where they'd gone hitless in 25 straight at-bats with RISP. And who do we have to thank for breaking up that trend? Brandon Webb.
Yes, after throwing a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second, Brandon came to bat with two on and two out, and delivered a two RBI double to deep center. Drew followed his lead with a RBI single, and Upton hit a two run homer, and we abruptly had a 6-3 lead. That sudden outburst of hits with RISP- two- means that in that one inning, we matched the total from the five previous games. That's progress, but since they were the only two we managed all game, it's not a lot of progress.
After the noise of the second inning, the middle portion of the game went pretty quietly. David Eckstein hit his first home run as a Diamondback, a solo shot that came as a surprise to all of us. Webb did a good job of keeping the Giants off the scoreboard- the most trouble he ran into was in the third, when Randy Winn and Pablo Sandoval started the inning with back-to-back singles, but Webb got a double play and a strike out to get out of trouble and leave Winn stranded at third. Stephen Drew had a good game at the plate, going 4 for 5, and CoJack was back from his brief time off- though if you're looking to rest an outfielder's throwing arm, on the field isn't much more strenuous than off when Webb is pitching. It looked like we were going to have a quiet, easy win tonight.
And then the ninth inning happened.
With a four run lead, Melvin looked over the battered remnants of his bullpen and called forth Doug Slaten to close out the game. In the words of the Grail Knight, Melvin chose... poorly. Slaten walked the first two batters he faced, walking the second batter on four straight pitches. Somewhere, you could hear the sound of an antacid company contacting Slaten's agent about a possible endorsement deal. Or maybe that was just the phone in the bullpen ringing. Tony Pena was quickly sent in to finish off the game, and responded to the call by giving up a triple, and bringing the tying run to the plate. Fortunately, he ignored the runner on third, and took a cue from Webb, getting three straight ground balls from the Giants to end it. Gave up one run, but it was enough for the save, and to give the Diamondbacks their third straight win.
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Master of his domain: Brandon Webb (at bat): +18.4%
Honorable Mention: Stephen Drew: +16.2%; Justin Upton: +14.9%
God-emperor of suck: Doug Slaten -5.7%
So, we end up with blackjack- Webb's 21st win on the season- rather than getting hit with a blackjack, though Webb's own hit in the second inning was the single biggest play of the game, by WPA, and Upton's home run was a close second.
A sporadic thread this evening, just passing 300 comments thanks to a swell in the late innings and post-game. Fighting the good fight tonight, under the banner of the noble narwhal, you would find: Jim McLennan, foulpole, snakecharmer, TwinnerA, unnamedDBacksfan, DbacksSkins, kishi, TuLoRocks2008, singaporedbacksfan, hotclaws, Zephon, soco, frienetic, Azreous, 4 Corners Fan, mrssoco, and Scrbl.
The Dodgers lost in Pittsburgh, thanks to a truly atrocious seventh inning from Los Angeles, where the Pirates scored eight runs with two outs. Thanks to that, the Diamondbacks go home only 3.5 games back. Still a significant deficit, though, and unless the Dodgers well and truly collapse, while the Diamondbacks hit a late surge, our team is still looking at October sitting at home. And on the topic of purely theoretical playoff chances, if my math is correct, we just eliminated the Giants from contention tonight.
One last game against the Giants tomorrow, and Chase Field will see a second Cy Young candidate in as many nights when Tim Lincecum tries to improve his chances at the award, while Randy goes for career win #295 again. The Big Unit hasn't had a decision in over a month, let alone a win, but in the end it may depend on if our offense shows up again. Given how tonight went, Randy may be practicing in the batting cages at this very moment...
Thanks to Kishi for the update: Charmer got a panicked email around 8pm last night, because our cable was out, so there was no hope of me writing the update, or even seeing the game. In fact, I didn't know the final score until I saw it in the newspaper this morning: we did ask for - and got - an in-game update from the tech support lady at Cox, but that was it!
Kinda weird being totaly unaware of the score overnight, but glad we just managed to hold on. It's the first time the standings have gone in our direction since August 29th, when we won the first game of the Dodgers series. Little steps. All we need is for Pittsburgh to beat LA again tonight, and us to defeat Lincecum. I'll bring the narwhals. :--)