Record: 15-19 Pace: 71-91 Change on last year: +1
Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and Ian Kennedy shut out the Giants for 8 in a total pitcher's duel. Clearly, neither pitcher gave their team a chance to win, because both got a no-decision, despite pitching nearly-identical shutouts. More tales of awesome pitching, or horrific offense, (depending on how you look at it) after the jump.
If you're a fan of pitching, you couldn't really have hoped for more. Both starters went 8 without a run. Although Ian Kennedy's no-hitter was broken up by the first Giants batter, and Tim Lincecum's was broken up by the 18th Dback, both pitchers ended up yielding 4 hits. Lincecum walked 2 and struck out 9. Kennedy walked 3 and struck out 8. Lincecum threw 114 pitches; Kennedy, 116. Twice, Kennedy induced "clutch" double plays early on to erase baserunners. Lincecum got the same thing after walking the leadoff batter of the Dbacks' second inning. But, neither pitcher's performance tonight was good enough to convince their offense to please score them some runs and get them a win.
Kirk Gibson inexplicably had Kelly Johnson (Batting .175 coming into this game) bat leadoff, and while it may have gotten KJ to be more patient at the plate, one has to question the logic of such a lineup choice. There are very few areas in which a manager has a real effect on a team, but lineup construction is unmistakably one of them. Kelly, however, paid off Gibson's faith by getting a single and a walk and, indeed, was the only member of the offense to post a WPA in the black, at +6.9%.
Almost as strange was putting the struggling veteran Melvin Mora in the 2 spot. It's one thing to start Melvin Mora and his 62 wRC+ in 2011 over Ryan Roberts and his 149. It's totally another to bat him second -- twice, Mora came up to bat with runners on base (including once with a RISP) and both times came away empty. With Mora and Roberts both righties, why is Mora EVER playing over Roberts? Is it because of how much we're paying him?
Baserunning wasn't the best, either. Juan Miranda had a particularly egregious baserunning error in the 2nd inning. After narrowly reaching first after Freddy Sanchez threw his grounder into the fence, Miranda decided this was the time to show off his snail-on-opiates-like speed and was out by about 15 feet coming in to 2nd. In the top of the 9th, after Justin Upton singled to lead off the inning against Brian Wilson, a sharp throw from Buster Posey caught him trying to steal second. In a game with only 9 total baserunners by the Dbacks, Miranda and Upton effectively knocked that number down to 7.
Anyway, Ian Kennedy shut out the Giants over 8 innings, striking out 8, walking 3 and giving up 4 hits. In fact, Ian personally broke up Lincecum's no-hit bid with one out in the 6th with a single to CF. Did the league mention anything about it? Well, glad you asked! I've got a screencap right here that answers that question. I warn you, dear viewers; some of this content might be shocking:
Really, MLB? "Freak dominating D-backs in NL West tilt"? Note that this headline shows up 3 batters AFTER Lincecum has already been pulled from the game. Also note the box score; it's nearly identical. Yet, there's absolutely no mention of Ian Kennedy's gem. It's as if MLB is ROOTING for the Giants to win, because it's a better story. As I remarked in the Gameday Thread, Tim Lincecum is a more marketable commodity than Ian Kennedy. But then again, as Derek Jeter's Gold Glove tells us, MLB culture today is much more about cultivating a storyline than the truth of individual players' and teams' performances. You have to think that, had the roles been reversed and Lincecum broken up Kennedy's no-hitter tonight, the headline would have been something along the lines of: "Freak dominates D-backs with the ball and the bat".
Anyway, the end result of the game was that David Hernandez replaced Kennedy in the 9th and gave up a leadoff walk to Posey. Darren Ford came in to pinch run for Posey. Now, I'd like to point out two moves here which prove that Bruce Bochy was going for the win, rather than preparing for extra innings. In the top of the 9th, in a tie game, Bochy brought in Wilson, his closer, to pitch. In the bottom of the 9th, Bochy pulled his starting catcher (and a great hitter) for a pinch runner. Had the game gone to extras, San Fran would've had to go to their backup backstop.
Ford ended up stealing second without a throw -- not particularly surprising, given that Beyond the Box Score's Catcher Defensive Rankings, released today, have Miguel Montero in the bottom 5 of the league -- and Cody Ross, with his beady, beady eyes, laced the ball down the left field line with one out to walk off the game in front of a sold-out stadium and a cheering home crowd. If MLB wanted their story, that would have to be it. Wilson got his 3rd win of the year, Hernandez his first loss.
Battle of Midway: Ian Kennedy (pitching), +51.2%
Battle of Leyte Gulf: Kelly Johnson, +6.9%
Pearl Harbor bombing: David Hernandez, -37.8%
Battle of Savo Island: Miguel Montero, -17.6%
Battle of the Java Sea: Justin Upton, -13.0%
Battle off Malaya: Melvin Mora, -11.2%
Yeah... I went that route, since I've been on a WWII naval kick. Kelly Johnson and Ian Kennedy were the only Dbacks in positive territory. Interesting FanGraph; you can see precisely how closely matched these teams were until the very end. Both starting pitchers put up exactly 51.2 WPA. However, with the bat, Ian Kennedy was only at -0.6%, while Lincecum posted -5.2%. So, if we're going by WPA, Ian Kennedy outplayed Tim Lincecum tonight -- +50.6% to +46.0%. But don't tell MLB.
28 Snakepit users posted 759 comments in tonight's Gameday Thread. I led the pack with 131, while Clefo was second with 81 and NASCARbernet third at 70. Joining us were UAwildcats, pygalgia (who was well-behaved), jinnah, Dallas D'Back Fan, IHateSouthBend, Rockkstarr12, blank_38, emilylovesthedbacks, Jim McLennan, Muu, hotclaws, asteroid, Jdub220, Scottyyy, BattleMoses, soco, kishi, Zavada's Moustache, 4 Corners Fan, snakecharmer, Wailord, Turambar, txzona, Sprankton, and Torpedosneak. Comment of the Day comes from Zavada's Moustache, easily garnering the most rec's with 7, and involves Kennedy's response to Lincecum's attempted no-no:
So, join us again tomorrow, and maybe a great performance by a Diamondback WON'T be totally ignored by MLB. Heck, maybe we'll even get a win.