Double your pleasure... The canceled game from the opening Sunday of the season is replayed this afternoon - coincidentally. Arizona throw up the same starter as would have pitched that day. [The Rockies, however, go with the man who faced the D-backs, and beat them, on the Saturday] It's probably safe to say that the visitors have seen their 2011 season go better than expected, while the home team have seen it go south, pretty much since Dave Cameron declared the NL West over in their favor. Colorado have gone 7-15 since that wildly-premature statement, and if we take this opener, Arizona will push them down into third. Can Joe Saunders end his winless streak?
This one might be weather-affected, as it's apparently raining in Denver. Otherwise, line-up and quite a bit of chat (hey, I was up early...) after the jump.
It's been a dozen games and more than eight months since we saw "Saunders, W" in the box-score. There's only been three longer streaks by a starter in franchise history: Max Scherzer (13, 2008-09); Edgar Gonzalez (14, 2003-06) and Brian Anderson (17, 2001-02). Though Saunders was also winless over his four spring training starts this year as well, going 0-2, so if you throw those in too, his streak trails trails only Anderson's. One pitcher in the NL has thrown more innings than Saunders' 52 and not got a W, the Padres Tim Stauffer at 58 - and, well, he plays for the Padres, where wins are like rainbow unicorns.
In his defense, Saunders hasn't exactly been flooded with run-support: the team has scored more than five runs for him just once in nine games - and that was in his worst start of the season, against the Reds, when he lasted three innings, but the Diamondbacks came back to win 10-8. In April, you could see why, with Saunders owning a 5.93 ERA. He has improved a good deal in May, with an ERA a fraction above four thus far, and three quality starts in his four outings. However, he has been walking more people than he strikes out, at 12:8, and that's not exactly a recipe for sustained success.
He has gone 5.2+ every time, so he is eating innings. On the other hand, he has still yet to reach seven, meaning it's more a light snack of innings, than any heavy-duty banqueting. As ZM pointed out in his excellent series preview, Joe "might just be the most important player for the Diamondbacks going forward." If he can pitch like the second-best paid player on the team should, or even like a reliable #3 should, then it will help the team out enormously, as we try to sustain our push for... well, let's just say, respectability. I'm not prepared to drop the C-bomb - as in "c*nt*nt**n" - yet.
The DIamondbacks have eight quality starts in their last 11 games, the exceptions being:
a) Armando Galarraga,
b) Armando Galarraga's replacement, and
c) Ian Kennedy's last start, where he was getting squeezed, and the bullpen allowed both inherited runners to score, but which I'm sure we can blame on Armando Galarraga somehow.
Keeping that run going in Colorado is important, and if the offense which batted .313 against the Twins over the weekend could make it to Denver, that would be helpful too. I'll be back with the recap of the opener, and hope to be referring in it to "Your second-place Arizona Diamondbacks," early and often.
- Willie Bloomquist SS
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Justin Upton RF
- Chris Young CF
- Xavier Nady 1B
- Melvin Mora 3B
- Gerardo Parra LF
- Henry Blanco C
- Josh Collmenter RHP
Juan Miranda's hand made him a late scratch - he was originally in the line-up, but was removed at about 10am Arizona time.