Record: 33-26; Pace: 90-72; Change on Last Season: +10
Pardon me if tonight's recap seems a bit off; I woke up approximately ten minutes before I was supposed to be at the testing center this morning for my SATs (which I believe I did alright on), so I rushed out of bed to a local high school and wrote a really lame, generic essay on a topic that I can't repeat in fear of being subjected to some form of torture (I think that's what it said above my signature). Either way, after I saw that the Giants had lost (placing us in a tie for first), today's game got all the more exciting; it was somewhat deflated, however, when I saw who was on the bump for the Diamondbacks. Well, sorry, Mr. Saunders. Joe went out and hurled seven majestic, scoreless innings en route to our second consecutive victory (hey, I can start counting whenever). Hit the jump to see how it all went (tl;dr Washington did nothing, we did slightly more).
My apprehension wasn't cured in the first inning. No, Saunders allowed a single to Jerry Hairston, Jr., to begin the ballgame, and it managed to worsen from there. Ian Desmond replaced Hairston at first on a fielder's choice, then nabbed second and advanced to third on an Xavier Nady error (which wasn't entirely his fault, as the ball hit the runner and got away). Saunders loaded 'em up a couple batters later on a walk, but he managed to get away with it. It's not great to load the bases in the first frame -- let alone of of a HBP and walk -- but so long as we get away with it unscathed, I'll keep my mouth shut. Certainly would have been interesting to see how this game woulda turned out had Washington done anything, as they really wouldn't threaten for the rest of the night.
The Nats left some excitement in the jar for the Diamondbacks to make use of in the bottom half of the inning, apparently, as Stephen Drew's two-out RBI triple (his second three-bagger in as many nights) scored Kelly Johnson to put the 'backs up 1-0. He's certainly finding ways to make games interesting lately, isn't he? Arizona couldn't bring him home, but the one run was really all Saunders would require. Actually, that line bears repeating, as its appearances are few are far between: the one run was really all Saunders would require. The only other real "threat" he faced was in the third after a leadoff double from Hairston; Hairston was moved to third on a sacrifice to the Colonel, but just as was done in the first, Saunders got out of it cleanly (ok, he walked but Jayson Werth, but again, that's ok ... we didn't want him to hit against us, right?), as a strikeout of Michael Morse and groundout from Danny Espinosa ended the threat.
The teams traded zeroes until the seventh (nearly in the hit column, too: the only hit from either team in the span was a Justin Upton single), when Xavier Nady doubled home Chris Young with a laser beam to left to give a little bit of insurance to the pitching staff, increasing the lead to two. Sean Burroughs batted for Saunders (and promptly grounded into a double play), ending the Colonel's night in the process. Joe left the game with a sparkling line, his seven innings, two hits (?!), five strikeouts and no runs making life slightly less stressful for the bullpen. David Hernandez was the chosen replacement, and he came out firing. Alex Cora popped it up and Hairston (who'd been a thorn in our sides throughout the night) was rung up for two quick outs, but a pinch-hit single from Laynce Nix and walk to Jayson Werth (again, we're letting it slide) turned the stress level up to eleven. Hernandez, unfazed, struck out Michael Morse - the Nats' rally-killer of the night - to keep the shutout intact.
Lord Putz came on in the ninth, getting two quick outs to up bring Rick Ankiel, who represented Washington's final hope. He drilled one to center that managed to evade CY's outstretched glove, putting a man in scoring position for the pinch-hitting Roger Bernadina; he hit a measly flyball to Parra, who snatched it to end the threat -- and game -- there. We find ourselves sitting alone atop the National League West, so let's go and have an e-celebration, as there's plenty to be happy about tonight. Sure, letting Livan Hernandez effectively shut down our offense is a bit disheartening, but having Joe Saunders shut you out probably stings a bit more. On that note, ladies and gentlemen... a round of applause for the Colonel.
Pretty Cool Guy: Joe Saunders, +48.1%
Also Cool in My Book: Stephen Drew, +14.5%
It's Ok, We Forgive You: Gerardo Parra, -8.5%
If you're dying to see the Fangraph, it's linked above. Either way, it'd sure be nice if Saunders could pitch closer to this more often. Our rotation has been pretty awesome as of late, and if Saunders turned it up a notch, we'd be that much better. Anywho, the Wailord-less GDT included NASCARbernet (who led all commenters), Clefo, SongBird, Jim McLennan, kishi, piratedan7, Bcawz, justin1985, Dallas D'Back Fan, asteroid, njjohn, BulldogsNotZags, IHateSouthBend, longshorts, CaptainCanuck, hotclaws, The Goat, emilylovesthedbacks, Gibbysdad, shoewizard, Jdub220, blank_38, Coach Cleats, Muu, baltimor, brian custer, Husk, xmet, Zavada's Moustache, marionette, diamondfacts, SenSurround, mbarnard11, snakecharmer, iheartdbacks, DiamondbacksWIn, DentArthurDent, and dbacks25. The large-ish roster managed about 550 comments today in a winning effort... you go, guys!
Soco wasn't there to get everyone in a reccin' sorta mood tonight, so Comment of the Day was a bit easier to discern. njjohn took it with the following, after another poster commented on Livan and tonight's strikezone:
I don't really doubt it, either... anyway, we go for a series victory against Washington tomorrow at 1:10, as Ian Kennedy looks to "outduel" Jason Marquis. We've won 18 of 22, so let's keep this Gibbytrain (is that the preferred nomenclature?) rolling. Choo choo, my friends - choo choo.