Is it just me, or does it seem like I'm always recapping Max Scherzer's games? Jim McLennan is on assignment, so I'm recapping tonight's game. To the other authors and editors, I have a small question -- can you think of a game you were assigned to recap where, frankly, the team's performance left you without much to say?
The Diamondbacks played a game like that tonight, but in the opposite fashion to the way this phenomenon usually happens. Max Scherzer pitched 6 innings of 2 run ball with just 1 walk and 7 Ks, Justin Upton had a 2 run homer in the bottom of the first, Upton and Felipe Lopez drove in 3 runs each, both Lopez and Stephen Drew had 3 hit games, and the bullpen pitched 3 shutout innings. Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds, playing at first base tonight, had highlight-reel defensive plays, and the Dbacks may have even gotten a little bit of help from the umpires.
What more could we need? Well, perhaps slightly better baserunning, as Reynolds was caught stealing in the 1st and remains mired on his 13th stolen base. Yet, even in this aspect, the Diamondbacks found a way to impress: Flip Lopez stretched a line drive into a triple, and subsequently came home to score on a catching error by Jarrod Saltailgslsngiwon. Experience all the gory details after the jump.
That creamy goodness that was a 6 run Dbacks win all began in the 1st inning, which really set the tone for the entire contest. Max Scherzer (described, somewhat disturbingly as "winsome" on MLB.com, along with Lincecum and Greinke -- sounds like SOMEBODY's got a few mancrushes!) blew away the first two batters he faced on Ks, before giving up a 2 out triple to Michael Young. Scherzer responded, angrily, by plunking the next batter, Marlon Byrd, before getting Nelson Cruz to fly out in the pitcher-friendly cavernous Chase Field. ;-) The Diamondbacks, for their part, led off the bottom of the 1st with a Flip groundout, followed by a Drew single, and Justin Upton's 14th home run of the year. Reynolds followed with a single, but ended up getting caught stealing: clearly, he's trying to improve on his already league-best Power-Speed #, in order to make the ASG. The deuce would end up being enough runs to drive the game to extras, but fortunately, the offense didn't rest there.
Scherzer kept up the awesomeness in the 2nd, going K-K-groundout, and the offense kept its foot on the pedal. Eric Byrnes and Flip got singles, and Miguel Montero and Ryan Roberts got walks to make the score 4-0. It would end up being all the scoring we needed, but the hitters didn't rest yet.
Mad Max ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the 3rd, walking the opposing pitcher, Matt Harrison, to lead off the inning. David Murphy singled, and Marlon Byrd had a two out double to score Harrison. Nelson Cruz flied out to end the inning, and a leadoff walk by Reynolds in the bottom half was erased by a Parra GIDP as the Dbacks failed to score in the 3rd.
In the 4th, back to back leadoff singles by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and strikeout king Chris Davis put a runner in scoring position with nobody out, but a flyout and a failed foul bunt by Harrison, whom Matt Williams pointed out looked like a typical AL pitcher in having no idea how to bunt, meant that Ian Kinsler's single only scored 1 run to make it 4-2. It must have pissed off the Dbacks, because they broke open the game in the bottom.
Roberts got a 1 out walk, and Max's sacrifice was good. Now, we needed a two out RBI from the man who's been derided on this very site as the king of lazy, minimal-effort baseball: he must read the 'Pit, because he got the run in and went to 2nd on the throw home. Stephen Drew got a 2 out single of his own, and Flip raced to beat the throw home. Former Rockies ace Jason Jennings came in to make sure that all baserunners would be charged as runs to Harrison, as Upton smacked a line drive double up the middle to make it 7-2.
Both teams went down in order in the 5th, and Scherzer pitched around a leadoff Salty single in the 6th. Elvis Andrus whacked a sharp grounder that got by Roberts at 3rd but Stephen Drew made a Toolo-esque play and Reynolds a great scoop at 1st to get the very close out. Somewhere, Orlando Hudson is muttering "Phenom".
Everybody's favorite solar-powered flashlight, Tony Clark, pinch flied out for Scherzer in the bottom of the inning, but as if to belabor the point that he's not lazy, Flip stretched a hard-hit liner into a triple without a throw and subsequently scored on an odd sequence. Jennings threw a ball in the dirt, and Saltalamacchia asked for, and was granted, time from HP umpire Mike Everitt. However, Salty unexpectedly declined to switch to a new ball, and instead threw the used one back to Jennings.... well, threw it sorta, vaguely, TOWARDS Jennings, plus about 6 feet in altitude. Flip scored, Ron Washington came out to argue, unsuccessfully, (though Matty, on the AM, seemed to think the ump made a mistake) and that's it for scoring. Ultimately it was irrelevant to the outcome of the game, as the next batter, Stephen Drew, got a single, but it was certainly interesting to listen to. Esmerling Vasquez, Juan Gutierrez and Tony Peña combined for 3 heartburnless innings, pitching around a single and a walk, and Reynolds made a FANTASTIC play to rob David Murphy of probable extra bases and end the game. It's nice that SOME of our 1Bs can catch a ball. :-(
Since I'm always so fond to note when a team simply "gets lucky" with its hits in a game, I'm glad to report that Arizona's BABIP was a robust .393 -- slightly high, especially for our team, but not terribly unsustainably so. The team tonight only outhit Texas 11-8, but for once, clutch hits were a-plenty, with the Sedona Boys going 3-7 w/RISP and getting 3 2-out RBIs.
Bravo, Dbacks! Bravo! This was certainly more complete a game than any of the three "contests" in Seattle, as indicated by the FanGraph, and specifically the fact that the Dbacks' win probability never dipped any lower than it was during bottom of the 1st inning. It was a quick, 2 hr 38 minute game, and fun, too! Offense, pitching, and defense. Now THIS was the team we thought we had this year. It was a nice way to bounce back after being apparently Sleepless In Seattle, and I can't help but think there might be some satisfaction on the parts of ASU fans. Lower stakes this time, but at least Phoenix baseball beat Texas.
Badass of the Day: Justin Upton, +18.6%
Also mavericky: Flip Lopez, +14.3%; Max Scherzer, +10.1%
Boarding the bus to Reno: Gerardo Parra, -4.9%
As usually happens during easy wins, there was a lively Gameday Thread with over 550 comments. I led the pack with 177 comments in my first full-time GDT since returning to Arizona, followed by hotclaws and soco, and snakecharmer broke 50 in her first thread back as well. Present in the thread were hotclaws, TwinnerA, pygalgia, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, Azreous, kishi, Zephon, Tim Weiss, DBacksCynthia(WELCOME!), emilylovesthedbacks, pepperdinedevil, 4 Corners Fan, unnamedDBacksfan, soco, J Up, and AJforAZ.
Incidentally, Baseball-Reference.com reports that the Dbacks' year-to-date attendance is 999,321. We all know the real figure is somewhat lower, but official attendance is what we go by. So, the Dbacks should "officially" get their 1 millionth 2009 attendee at today's game, where Danny Haren looks to keep up his streak of being totally awesome. The Rangers send former purple Dback Vicente Padilla to the mound. The Rockies finally lost again, to Arte's boys, and it would be nice to get a win today and see the Padres lose so we could pull within 1 game of.... OOH!! Not Last Place. (NLP)