Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3: Don't Stop Believing...

Record: 54-63. Pace: 75-87. Change on 2007: -5

A couple of weeks ago, I said, "The day I ever use Journey as a recap title, you have my full permission to shoot me." I guess it's time to get fitted for a Kevlar overcoat, for the baseball gods have a funny way of making such dogmatic pronouncements rebound, and such was the case tonight. Really - what better title could there be? Eighties Night at Chase Field, and the Diamondbacks used back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth from Mark Reynolds and Miguel Montero to tie the game, then won it on a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth. From a 4.8% chance of victory to the win in just a few minutes. Truly, don't stop believin'.

But that phrase also applies to Dodgers' starter Hiroki Kuroda, who was taken to hospital after a horrific moment in the sixth, taking a line drive from Rusty Ryal off the top of his head. We sincerely hope he makes a full and complete recovery - the early signs are hopeful. Audio clippage from Montero and Reynolds on their home-runs, plus Ryal on the Kuroda incident and Dodgers' trainer Stan Conte explaining just how lucky Kuroda was:

Audio courtesy of KTAR 620

Details of the whole game, leg-warmers, head bands and all, follow after the jump.

It looked over bar a downbeat recap when the World Largest Man [(c) Mark Grace Enterprises, Inc] struck out Gerardo Parra to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Arizona had managed just five base-runners through the first eight innings and now found themselves facing a deficit that matched the number of outs left - two. Oh, ye of little faith. Just outside Chase, someone hit the wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88 mph... and, lo, everything was indeed fine.

Reynolds pounded one to center, ending his long home-run drought. Ok, it's only four games, but Special K had hit eleven long balls since the last time he went without for so long. That was #37, leaving him one behind major-league leader Albert Pujols. And better yet was to come, as Montero drove a 1-1 pitch from Broxton clean into the pool, tying the game at three with his third hit of the night. The crowd of over 42,000 - the biggest at Chase since Opening Day - went berserk. Well, the ones not clad in Dodger Blue, anyway.

Could the home side hang on? Chad Qualls retired Mandy to lead off the top of the tenth, but a walk followed by two stolen-bases made for a nervous couple of outs before we were done, with the runner stranded at third. Augie Ojeda singled in the hole starting our half, and Dan Haren was called upon to bunt him to second, which he did immaculately. An intentional walk was issued to Stephen Drew, so the Dodgers could pitch to Trent Oeltjen. Well, in the kind of move guaranteed to drive a manager wild, "pitch to" in this case means "walk on four straight balls." Oh, that loaded the bases. And was Oeltjen's first free pass in his major-league career.

[Which gives me an opportunity to tell this very old joke. An Australian tourist was at Chase Field tonight watching the game, but not having seen baseball before, decided to observe the crowd and see how to react. So Oeltjen hits a ground-ball and sprints towards first, the crowd roaring "RUN!" as he does. No worries, he thinks, I've got this worked out.. In the tenth, Oeltjen takes ball four and heads for first, so the visitor stands up and yells "RUN!" at the top of his voice. The guy behind taps him on the shoulder and says, "Trent doesn't need to run, he's got four balls." The Aussie thinks for a moment, then yells, "Jog with pride, mate!" Thank you. We now return to the regularly scheduled recap.]

Where was I? Bases-loaded, one man out. This was exactly the kind of scoring opportunity it seems the Diamondbacks had a history of squandering, a man on third and less than two outs. That's because we rank 12th in the league there, scoring the run only 48% of the time. The Dodgers drew both the infield and outfield in, hoping to cut down the man at the plate, or turn a double-play, a category in which batter Gerardo Parra led the team. However, Parra got it done, sending the first pitch over the center-fielders head, precipitating a mass pile-up on home-plate. It doesn't get much better than that.

It certainly didn't look a very likely outcome in the early innings. Doug Davis struggled again with his control, walking four batters in six innings. Two of those came in the second pushing a man into scoring position, who then came home on a single to give Los Angeles the lead. He seems to be pitching permanently from the stretch and got out of a couple of dangerous scrapes thanks to double-play balls in the third and fourth. He almost did so in the fifth, getting Mandy to foul out with men on the corners and one out, but he then threw a pickoff to first away, and the run scored. A leadoff triple in the sixth and a sacrifice fly made it 3-0. It was a quality start for Davis, who allowed six hits, but he looked destined for defeat.

For Hiroki Kuroda was cruising: just two hits and no walks through the front five. Rusty Ryal pinch-hit for Davis to lead off the sixth - the line in the box-score gives you an idea something pretty odd happened:
    R Ryal hit a ground rule double to pitcher
What happened was, Ryal smashed a screamer right back up the middle. Kuroda tried to avoid it, but the 110+ mph line-drive cannoned off the top of his head and ricocheted clean into the stands behind home-plate. Kuroda dropped, and Chase Field fell silent, as he was strapped to a gurney and taken off the field to hospital. The good news is, a CT scan was clean, and there's no apparent fractures or bleeding. It was a scary, scary moment and quite put things like the Ethier-Haren spat in perspective.

Ryal, on second with a double he'll never forget, came home to score our first run on an Oeltjen sacrifice-fly. But until the bottom of the ninth, it looked like a token gesture by the Diamondbacks. Sure, our relievers, in the shape of Esmerling Vasquez, Clay Zavada and Juan Gutierrez, kept it close, but the Dodgers bullpen is certainly among the best in the league, and they kept Arizona at bay. Enter the ninth, and Jonathan Broxton, who had only given up two home-runs all season, in 51.2 innings, and never more than one in a game, over his entire career and 285 appearances. And here's tonight's Fangraph.

Dsbsingle_medium
[Click to enlarge, at fangraphs.com]
Master of his domain: Miguel Montero, +59.7%
Honorable mention: Chad Qualls, +14.3%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Tracy, -17.9%

An understandably delirious Gameday Thread, as we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. 'Charmer surged past three figures, with luckycc and kishi providing useful back-up. Also taking part in the BEAT LA! chants were edbigghead, UAwildcats, Wailord, katers, mrssoco, Spaghetti_Monster, 4 Corners Fan, njjohn, hotclaws, Zephon, pygalgia, piratedan7, DbacksSkins, Azreous and PhoenixFly.

Both these two games have been very exciting and thoroughly satisfying - so far, Hell Week has been as tough as expected, but the team have stepped up their performances as needed. We now find ourselves with the series in the bag - we've won four out of the last five - and with a chance of a sweep tomorrow, though with the Petit Unit taking the mound... Well, after tonight's contest, anything at all might happen. Sprankton gets the recap, so here's to him having as much to write about, and with the final result being just as acceptable.

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