Record: 2-3. Pace: 65-97 Change on last season: -1
I knew that tonight's contest between our beloved Diamondbacks and the invading Dodgers and their legion could be in danger when I walked up to the gate and Sliders began to blast "Shot to the Heart." True to fashion, the D'backs showed they truly know how to hurt their faithful.
The game started innocently enough, with the two teams trading zeroes for three frames. The first out featured Mark Reynolds ranging out from the infield grass to past the dirt and the foul line to catch a ball mid-dive. After this it was all pitching, so I settled in, hoping for a pitcher's duel similar to the second game of the Rockies' series, albeit with a slightly different result.
It was the top of the fourth when the first shot came. Orlando Hudson, now the enemy's O-Dawg, led off the inning with a solo home run. This seemed to wake up the slumbering Dodgers fans, and walking both Ramirez and Loney didn't help quiet them down. Russel Martin stepped into the batters box, and after a short battle with Petit, snapped a wicked ground through the wicket that was Reynolds' legs. I turned to the wife and muttered, "Buckner" but with only a 3 run deficit I figured that the D'backs had a chance to will their way back.
Up to this point the Diamondbacks had largely looked lost at the plate, with only Tony Clark making it on base somehow, who was quickly was the front end of a double play. With a 3-0 deficit, however, either the D'backs mentally checked out or were all hoping to be the hero. A fly-out, a pop-out and a strike-out ended any hope of a quick response.
The Dodgers threatened again in the top of the 5th with a leadoff Casey Black double, but luckily they weren't able to bring him home with a sacrifice and some timely defense. The Diamondbacks attempted to respond, putting Snyder on with one out, but Upton's tepid sacrifice attempt resulted in an instant out, and Ryan Roberts, substituting for Petit, struck out. Not a what you want to remember as your first Major League at-bat, but with the strike-out at least he can fit with the rest of his teammates.
Petit was now out of the game, a victim of an untimely home run and less than stellar defense from Reynolds, and the Real Buckner came to the mound for the Diamondbacks. At this point, it is understandable if anyone with a heart condition, or small children, choses to turn away. Buckner had the unfortunate luck to first face Ramirez, and he quickly walked Enemy Number One. Just setting him up for the double play, right? Not tonight! Loney snaps a double and Ramirez waddles to third, two on and no outs. One would think this might be the point Buckner gets the long, candy-colored cane, but Melvin rolled the dice instead. Buckner walks Martin, bases loaded and still no one out. Ethier doubles a ball of the wall, and two score bringing the total to 5-0, two on and no outs. Still no cane. Kemp adds to the fun, and Martin scores off his sac fly. 6-0, Buckner keeps working. Casey Blake singles, Ethier scores. 7-0, only one out. Stults strikes out, making it two outs. Buckner decides to switch things up, and throws a wild pitch that allows Blake to advance to second. Furcal caps the inning, bringing Blake in with a single to put the total damage at 8-0. Finally, mercifully, the ring leader arrives, and yanks the hapless Buckner.
It was at this point I stopped updating my notebook, as it was all beginning to look eerily like the Necronomicon, screaming demons and all. I did add one last entry, "TOP 6TH: The inning when hope died." The wife and I waited with a slightly sick feeling, wondering who would be the lamb thrown to the lions of the Dodger offense. With horror, we realized it would be Rauch. Certainly Melvin wouldn't play Rauch-an Roulette, not tonight?
By some bizarre fashion, perhaps it was the Necronomicon or a sign of actual improvement, Rauch did what he was brought in from Washington to do: dominate and get outs. Okay, the domination wasn't immediately obvious, but after a slight road bump of walking O-Dawg, Rauch forced a ground-out and subsequently gets two strike-outs and a ground-out for a quick 7th.
The deficit was too much at this point, though, and the way the Diamondbacks were batting even the 3-0 fourth inning deficit would have been too much. Although they were able to knock out Stults in the bottom of the 6th after getting two on with one out, the opportunity was quickly wasted with Jackson fielder choice and a Clark strike-out. The next bottom inning was similar, again the D'backs were able to get two on with a Reynolds single and Montero taking advantage of a catching error, but Snyder and Upton's strikeouts killed the inning before it truly began.
To add insult to injury, as the drunken Dodger college fans behind me so lovingly pointed out fifty times at a decibel level generally only associated with landing airplanes, the Dodgers added to their lead in the 8th, scoring 3 and bringing the result to 11-1. Scanning the scoreboard, I realized this would be the worse loss of the day if things continued as they were going. I didn't want to be sole worst loser of the day, and I think the D'backs agreed with me.
With the stadium consisting soley of Dodgers fans, masocistic D'backs fans, and those entrusted with recaps, Reynolds tripled with one out. I screamed from the upper deck, the red voice in a sea of blue, "PITY RUN! PITY RUN!" And low and behold, the Littlest Ballplayer heard my plea, hitting a sac fly to Pierre that allowed Reynolds to score. 11-2. Now we'd just be tied with the worst beat down of the day. Sometimes it's the little things, and the Little Ballplayers, that you need to appreciate.
On one hand, as frustrating as this loss was it is still only one loss. This isn't the BSC, you don't get extra points for running up the score. On the other hand, the handful of games this year is painting a scary picture for the Diamondbacks. The only two wins have been home run derbies, and the three losses have had a complete lack of offense. Obviously, it is a very small sample, but minus the two shows of offense Opening Day and last night, this is a team acting very nearly exactly like the one that lost the division last September.
Tepid gameday thread, but that's to be expected given the result. Thanks to the poor souls that braved it out with me in spirit: kishi, unnamedDBacksfan, hotclaws, PhoenixFly, Pyromnc, Quin, TwinnerA, luckycc, Jim McLennan, Azreous, PioneerSkies, Lisalisa8, AF Dbacks Fanatic, Bcawz, 4 Corners Fan, mrssoco, sergey606, Gravity, TheDBackFan, and Diamondhacks.
Tomorrow is the rubber game, and the Diamondbacks need to win it and the series. They can't start the season dropping series left and right, least of all to yet another division rival and defending champion. Also, it would be nice for Golden Boy Upton to get a hit. Haren faces off against Wolf (no, not Drew) at 1:10PM, so let's give it the old college try, eh?
[Morning update] Audio clips from Petit and Reynolds.
Audio courtesy of KTAR 620