Eric Gagne owned the Diamondbacks. While his monumental streak of 84 consecutive saves was bookended on both sides by blown ones against us, that was the exception, rather than the rule. In 53.1 innings facing us, he allowed only 32 hits and striking out 67. His ERA versus Arizona was 1.52, the lowest for any opponent against whom he had ten or more IP. However, it seems those glory days have passed. This afternoon in Tucson, Gagne allowed hits to four of the six Diamondbacks he faced, and was tagged for three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning - his spring ERA is now 20.25.
Meanwhile, Arizona came back from three down to extend their unbeaten streak to five games, in front of what appears to have been a sold-out house at Tucson Electric Park The boxscore and details are after the jump,. There'll likely be dancing on Gagne's grave tonight. [Update] The latest news on Brandon Webb (and, for once, it doesn't suck), plus the battle for the 25th spot, and why we love Augie Ojeda.
|Johnson, K, 2B||2||0||0||0||1||2||0||.357|
|Abreu, T, SS||3||1||1||2||0||0||0||.478|
|Roberts, R, 2B||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Jackson, C, 1B||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.500|
|Reynolds, M, DH||2||0||0||0||0||2||2||.176|
|Bailey, J, PH-DH||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.444|
|Parra, G, RF||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.143|
|Young, C, CF||2||0||1||0||1||0||2||.263|
|Rogers, E, SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.143|
|Macias, D, LF||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.188|
|Ojeda, A, 3B||1||0||0||0||1||0||3||.333|
|Deeds, D, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Jackson, C (3, Billingsley).
3B: Abreu, T (2, Elbert), Gillespie (1, Gagne).
HR: Ryal (2, 6th inning off Miller, Ju, 0 on, 2 out), Allen (1, 7th inning off Gagne, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Ryal 4; Abreu, T 3; Jackson, C 2; Allen 4; Bailey, J; Parra, G; Hester 2; Young, C; Snyder; Gillespie 3; Cowgill; Coughlin.
RBI: Abreu, T 2 (6), Parra, G (1), Ryal (5), Allen (3), Gillespie (3), Cowgill (1).
2-out RBI: Ryal; Gillespie; Cowgill.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Reynolds, M; Macias, D; Snyder; Ryal; Rogers, E.
Team RISP: 5-for-14.
Team LOB: 11.
|Kroenke (W, 1-0)||1.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9.82|
|Septimo (H, 1)||1.0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0.00|
Can't complain too much about any time we restrict the opposition to only two at-bats with runners in scoring position all day. Unfortunately, one of those times did result in the only scoring for the Dodgers this afternoon, Blake DeWitt cranking a three-run shot off Kevin Mulvey with one out in the third, following a couple of walks. That was the only hit Mulvey allowed in his three innings of work, and he struck out four men, but the three walks, two of which came round to score, were likely something of note.
After that, normal service was resume, with the bullpen giving us six shutout innings, on four hits (all singles) and a walk, albeit against a Dodger squad with many of its starting stars off playing in Taiwan this weekend. There was solid performances from both end of the spectrum: Chad Qualls pitched his third consecutive perfect inning - we need opposing hitters to try harder, because how is he ever going to get tested if he just keeps going 1-2-3? Roque Mercedes joined Qualls in the three scoreless innings club, and Leyson Septimo also maintained his ERA in the box marked "Flat-lined."
There were also three scoreless innings from pitchers who had struggled a bit previously. Zach Kroenke was perhaps the most impressive, notching his first perfect (and, indeed, unscored upon) inning of the season, and picked up the W for his troubles. Blaine Boyer also got his ERA out of the double-digits, with a scoreless ninth, and Bob Howry was the first one after Mulvey to take the mound for the Diamondbacks, posting a zero in the fourth. Overall, Arizona pitching has conceded a total of only sixteen runs this week, over six games. I know it's spring and means less than nothing, but it's still better to be winning than losing.
Over the same period, the offense has scored 37 times, pounding out another thirteen hits today, in addition to five walks. The offense was spread around pretty well, with John Hester the only man to have more than one hit. Jeff Bailey and Chris Young each had a hit and a walk, while Conor Jackson doubled off Chad Billingsley and was also hit by a pitch. Tony Abreu got the Arizona comeback started with a two-run triple, part of a three-run fourth that tied the score, and there were home-runs for Rusty Ryal (above) and Brandon Allen . The latter was off Gagne, notable since only two D-backs ever hit long-balls off him in a game that counted: Steve Finley (June 7, 2001) and Matt Williams (July 14, 2002).
I'll update this a bit later with whatever D-backs news I can scrape off the tubes of the Interwebz.
Later. Got distracted by the "no, really - this is the truly and absolutely final" cut of Blade Runner, which is still one of the greatest movies of all time. Amazing that the effects were all done "in camera" i.e. matte painitings, motion control, models, etc. rather than CGI. Approaching thirty years later, it's fricking impeccable. And Roy Batty's final speech must be one of the greatest scenes in genre cinema. Anyhoo...
Steve Gilbert says the competition for the final spot is heating up. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, infielders Rusty Ryal and Tony Abreu, plus first baseman Jeff Bailey, have all had their moments in the sun, with Ryal's the lowest OPS at "only".850. Gilbert reckons Abreu, who has played 2B/SS/3B, and Ryal (1B/2B/LF) are the most likely, but Gillespie has dented the consciouness too. Said Hinch, Gillespie is making a great impression... I think with our roster and the flexibility we have it's not inconceivable that we wouldn't carry five outfielders." After several moments pause, I think there may be one too many negatives in that last sentence?
An optimistic update on the Webb front. His first throwing session since he felt "stagnant," went well, Hinch telling reporters, "He showed more life in his arm today. Throwing a few breaking balls may not sound like big news, but it is to us. That means he's able to throw without reservation, and that's big." There's still basically no way he's going to be ready in time for the third game of the season, but it's encouraging to hear that forward progress is once again being made. We won't actually need a fifth starter until April 17, so I would imagine it's possible we could instead carry an extra relief arm for the first couple of weeks, to deepen the bullpen.
Split-squad games for Arizona tomorrow, half the team being in Hermosillo to face the Rockies, whiile the other half come up to Surprise and take on the Rangers. Rodrigo Lopez and Billy Buckner respectively get the starts. I'll finish with a nice quote from Augie Ojeda, which just is one more reason to love the guy.
"Everyone should be a fan favorite. The fans, all they want to see is for you to go out there and bust your tail, play hard. If you have four at-bats and you average four seconds to first base, that's 16 seconds that you're going to be running. That's not that hard. We should all be doing it. The fans pay a lot of money to see the games. We should all be hustling."