Record: 3-6. Pace: 54-108. Change on last season: -4
With the roof open on a sunny, windy Wednesday afternoon, hopes were high that the Diamondbacks could carry some momentum from last night's extra-innings victory into a series win today, heading into an off day before a three-game set in San Francisco. While the team carried over a familiar sense of tenacity and some pretty good offense, the pitching and defense failed to show up at the park, and the results showed.
Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland traded zeroes in the first, each retiring the side in order, but things picked up in the top of the second. Chris Duncan singled with one away, moved to second on a groundout by Khalil Greene, and scored on a knock by Yadier Molina (more from him later) to give the Cardinals an early lead. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks wasted a leadoff double by Chad Tracy in the bottom half; although Reynolds moved him to third with one out on a fly ball, Young struck out, and Snyder flew out after an Upton walk. Those kinds of wasted opportunities would prove costly.
In the third, the wheels came off the bus for both starting pitchers. First, the odyssey of Garland:
- J. Pineiro walked
- J. Pineiro stole second
- S. Schumaker grounded out to first, J. Pineiro to third
- C. Rasmus doubled to deep left, J. Pineiro scored
- A. Pujols intentionally walked
- R. Ludwick singled to left center, C. Rasmus scored, A. Pujols to second
- C. Duncan doubled to deep right center, R. Ludwick and A. Pujols scored
- K. Greene grounded out to shortstop
- Y. Molina singled to right, C. Duncan scored, Y. Molina to second advancing on throw
- J. Thurston walked
- J. Pineiro grounded out to shortstop
Yes folks, you're reading that correctly: five runs, four hits, three walks. Most disturbing of all, however, was the leadoff walk and stolen base to the opposing pitcher. Pineiro has spent the majority of his career in the American League, and sports a cool .083 average with 59 Ks in 96 ABs. Even Mark Reynolds is like "Dayamn." But Garland, who struggled with getting ahead of hitters for the majority of his time on the mound, got himself in trouble to start the inning and simply couldn't dig himself out of it.
But these were the new and improved Resilient Dbacks©, fresh off their inspiring victory the night before, and they would not be denied just yet. Staring at a 6-0 deficit, Lopez doubled with one out and was driven in by a CoJack double, who scored on a two-out two-bagger by Tracy. Reynolds followed with a gargantuan shot into right center (even more surprisingly considering it didn't look that great off the bat), and suddenly it was a 6-4 game.
Each starter coughed up one more run before their day was blessedly over. Garland surrendered a leadoff double to Schumaker in the fourth, who was moved to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout, but Slaten got out of the inning on a great catch against the wall by Chris Young (see above). Pineiro gave up consecutive two-out doubles to Young and Upton in the fifth to make it a 7-5 game. The two left with these awe-inspiring lines:
Pineiro: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Garland: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 0 K
After a relatively easy fifth, Yusmeiro Petit ran into his own trouble in the top of the sixth, in a bizarre cocktail of hits, walks and errors. A leadoff walk to Rasmus started the mess. He was driven in by a double by Pujols, and Ludwick connected on a two-run homer shortly after. With the bases empty and still nobody out, Petit decided that wasn't quite enough madness yet. Greene reached on a Reynolds error and scored on a Thurston single (sandwiched around a Molina walked). After a long flyout, a Lopez fielding error -- his first of two in the game -- loaded the bases, but Petit escaped with a popup. Still, having already mounted one big comeback, the damage seemed to have been done to the Diamondbacks' chances.
Or was it? Byrnes pinch-hit for Petit to lead off the sixth and smacked a ball into the left-field seats for his first homer of the year. Lopez walked and made it to third when Drew reached on an error, and a sac fly from Tracy drove him in -- but Drew was caught trying to sneak over to third with two out (it's unclear whether this was on a sign from Hale or just terrible baserunning on Drew's part), ending the threat. Again, it wasn't that the offense performed poorly, but their margin of error was too slim with all the runs the pitching staff was giving up.
From there, already past the 2:30 mark and with three innings still to go, things finally settled down and the excitement waned. Reynolds walked to lead off the seventh, but was stranded there as the last nine Diamondbacks were all set down in order. On the other side, Bobby Korecky made his first appearance for Arizona and gave up a run on two hits, but that was inconsequential to the final margin, really.
God-Emperor of suck: Jon Garland, -40.1%
Dishonorable mention: Yusmeiro Petit, -16.2%
Our best moment: Mark Reynolds' HR in the 3rd, +13.5%
Our worst moment: Chris Duncan's 2 RBI double in the 3rd, -9.6%
For the good guys, Lopez had another solid effort in the leadoff spot, reaching base three times (a double, a single and a walk). Tracy added two doubles and Young had two hits of his own. Reynolds, Upton and CoJack each reached base twice as well. And our lefties out of the pen managed to avoid partaking in the massacre, albeit in just an inning and a third -- Slaten got Garland out of the fourth with a 400-foot flyout, and Schoeneweis pitched a perfect ninth. Really, the bad pitching (eight walks against just one strikeout?) and errors were just too much to overcome.
For the Cardinals, Duncan was a homer away from the cycle, Ludwick got on base three times, and Molina straight destroyed us, with three base hits and two walks in his five plate appearances. Perez and Motte shut us down for three innings out of the pen. But hey, Khalil Greene was 0-for-6!
Present in a schizophrenic GameDay Thread were: kishi, Pyromnc, DbacksSkins, emilylovesthedbacks, Jim McLennan, venomfan, luckycc, Azreous, TwinnerA, Bcawz, hotclaws, Wactivist, AJforAZ, ASUJon, Muu, singaporedbacksfan, Diamondhacks, IndyDBack, snakecharmer and J Up. More than 650 comments, which is very respectable for a weekday afternoon start. Skins tallied 260 comments on his own; no one else had more than 65.
Elsewhere around baseball, Tim Wakefield flirted with a no-hitter for seven innings (on just 65 pitches to that point!), but might've gotten stiff while he waited for the Red Sox to stop scoring runs in the top of the eighth -- six of them, all with two outs -- in a half-inning that took more than 20 minutes. He lost his bid on a Kurt Suzuki single with just five outs to go. The Rockies beat the Cubs 5-2, and those dreaded Yankees managed to beat Tampa Bay. As of press time, the Padres and Mets were scoreless in the third.
That makes three consecutive series losses to start the season, although we haven't been swept in any of them -- if nothing else, we're consistent, posting a 1-2 record in each. As mentioned above, a day off tomorrow, which will give some much-needed rest to the bullpen. Those pesky Giants are on deck for this weekend's series, including a matchup of Max Scherzer and a certain Randy Johnson. Knowing the Unit, he'll probably come out fired up, but his two starts so far this season have been less than impressive (same with Timcecum, who starts Friday). If this rejuvenated offense can match up with the starting pitching we've come to expect the last two seasons, two or three wins isn't out of the question -- but as many have recognized in these first two weeks, there's no guarantees on anything. That's the beauty (and horror) of baseball for you.
[Audio update] Jon Garland discusses his outing, and Chad Tracy says we need to play well this month, but the team is taking it one day at a time, or even one at-bat at a time]
Audio courtesy of KTAR 620