Record: 35-28. Pace: 90-72. Change on 2012: +4.
When the day started, there were hopes. Boy, were there hopes. The hopes were that the only bad thing about today would be the "Bark in the Park" promotion, with its attendant video of random animals and grown men who dress their dogs in little outfits. That would have been bad. Then, it got worse. It was also D. Baxter’s birthday. So, a parade of annoying mascots would be at the game. Even that could have been bearable if the Diamondbacks could win the game. Well, guess what Bad Thing Number Three was? You guessed it—a thoroughly lackluster effort on the part of Arizona; pitching, hitting and defense all combining into a mess of an unwatchable game. The best part was when it was over.
With the horrible news about Daniel Hudson’s need for an additional Tommy John surgery being followed by the horrible news of Brandon McCarthy suffering a seizure related to last year’s head injury, the Diamondbacks are now in a position where they must rely on some of their young pitching depth. Of course, that depth isn’t quite as deep anymore, so we have to hope for the best from Tyler Skaggs and Wade Miley. Miley has already shown himself to be shaky this season, so Skaggs’ performance is even more crucial. Unfortunately, today didn’t give cause for much optimism.
Of course, the Giants are facing some of their own pitching difficulties. The once heralded Tim Lincecum is no longer quite so freaky, for example. They were running out Chad Gaudin for this start, so there was hope. Unfortunately, there was little else but hope today.
Arizona pitchers have made it an annoying habit of having one horrible inning per game lately. As Jim noted in the game preview, that has generally been the fourth. Skaggs decided he was done with this waiting thing, and he’d have a poor inning right out of the gate. No, it wasn’t five or more runs, but that was purely by luck. The Giants were able to march one guy after another from the batter’s box to the bases. The inning started with an Andres Torres single to short center field. Marco Scutaro came up and hit one in almost the exact same spot. Since Torres was running on the pitch, he ended up at third base. St. Buster was able to get a single by Martin Prado, scoring Torres and moving Scutaro to second. Three up, three hits, one run. Skaggs would walk Hunter Pence to load the bases, still with no one out. Joaquin Arias singled to a slightly different area of short center field, scoring Scutaro and keeping the bases loaded. Still with no one out. (Sensing a pattern?)
Finally, Brandon Belt would indulge the Diamondbacks by lining out to Cliff Pennington at second base. Pennington was almost able to double up Arias on first, but it was a touch too late. Next up was 26-year-old Juan Perez in his first major league at-bat, having just been called up from the Richmond Flying Squirrels. (Really.) He would make the second out, popping up into foul territory down the right field line. The over-the-shoulder catch by Cliff Pennington was stellar. The top half of the inning would mercifully end when Skaggs got Brandon Crawford to strike out swinging. This, of course, led to the chorus of "it could have been worse" in the GDT. The response from imstillhungry95 was today’s Comment of the Day:
I feel like we're saying "could have been worse" way too much this season. Almost like it's getting to the point where, overall, it is worse...
Yes, indeed, young man.
Of course, it was early. Things would get better, right? Well, if you want to look at dogs in dumb clothes, people in stupid panda hats, and people wearing obnoxious dog bones on their heads, they would. If you wanted to see the Diamondbacks’ offense being productive, you might have to wait for another time. It surely wasn’t going to be the first inning of today’s game. Gerardo Parra led off with a pop-out to left field, which was followed by Didi Gregorius grounding out to second. Paul Goldschmidt’s at-bat looked hopeful when he hit one hard to center. Perez would make the most of his day, though, by crashing into the wall to rob Goldy of a hit.
It looked like Skaggs had settled down a bit in the second inning. He was able to get Gaudin to strike out, and Torres to fly out to left. After walking Scutaro, Tyler had his second strike out of the inning when he sat down Buster Posey. The bottom half of the inning proved even shorter than the top, with Miguel Montero, Martin Prado and Jason Kubel all flying out to various outfielders. Still a 2-0 score in favor of the bad guys.
There was more difficulty for Skaggs in the top of the third. Pence would lead off the inning with a fly to no man’s land in shallow left. Kubel was playing back, so he couldn’t get in for it. Gregorius was unable to get out to it. So, Pence ended up with a double. Arias would ground out to short stop, keeping Pence at second. However, Belt was able to make one of those "productive outs" by tapping back to the mound; Pence moved up to third. Perez would come up and hit a grounder to Prado at third. This could have gotten the Diamondbacks back into the dugout, but it didn’t. Prado fielded the ball, but made a poor throw to first base. Goldy wasn’t able to dig it out. It was scored an RBI single, with an error on Prado allowing Perez to advance to second. Crawford was walked intentionally to get to Gaudin, who struck out on a Skaggs curve ball. San Francisco was now up 3-0. Could we come back? Or, at least, avoid the shutout?
The D’Backs were finally able to get a little pressure on the Giants in the bottom of the inning. After Pollock struck out, Pennington was able to poke one over the head of Crawford into left center. Skaggs was sent up to sacrifice, but the Giants decided this error thing was something they wanted a part of, too. Gaudin had difficulty fielding the bunt, then appeared to panic a bit. His throw to first pulled Scutaro off the bag. Everyone was safe on the E-1. Hopes would be dashed when Parra flied out to shallow center and Gregorius struck out. Still no runs for the good guys.
The fourth would see scoring for both teams, so there would be no shutout today. (Small favors.) The Giants would tack on a run in their half via a Scutaro homerun. That was surrounded by fly outs from Torres, Posey and Pence.
In the bottom half, Goldy would lead off with a strike out. Montero would follow with a single to center. Prado would strike out looking at a low strike. Despite Martin’s protestations and Brenly’s comment about an inconsistent strike zone, that low strike was called for all pitchers all game. Kubel was able to move Miggy up to second with a line drive single to right field. Pollock got the RBI with his own single, which moved Kubel to third.
Pennington came up to bat. As the booth jabbered about something, Kubel walked in and touched home. The score changed to 4-2. What happened? Eventually, it was determined that a balk had been called when Gaudin failed to come to a stop before delivering the ball. Pollock now stood on second. With first open, Pennington was given the intentional pass. Skaggs followed with a strike out. We had a ball game at 4-2. At least, we did for a minute.
The Giants would get one of the runs back in the fifth on a Belt homerun. The Diamondbacks tried to respond. Parra led off the inning, and was robbed of an infield single by great plays on the parts of Arias and Belt. Didi struck out, but Goldy still wanted to get something going. Once again, he would be robbed on a long fly to center. This time, it was at the hands of Pence, who crashed into the wall to take away a hit. The inning ended with a score of 5-2, Giants.
There would be defensive lows and defensive highs in the top of the sixth. Gaudin led off the inning. His grounder to Pennington should have been a fairly easy out, but Goldy couldn’t handle the flip. It was initially ruled a hit, but later changed to an E-3. Thus would end the day of Tyler Skaggs, as Brad Ziegler came in to face Torres.
Parra would prove his defensive prowess when Torres hit a liner to right. It looked as if Parra could have caught it, but he slowed up. The ball bounced in front of him. He barehanded the ball, and fired it to second to get the lead runner. It was probably the highlight of the game. That’s not necessarily a good thing, though, since defensive plays won’t put runs on the board. Ziegler would end the inning by inducing a 4-6-3 double play from Scutaro.
The bottom of the inning was nothing but disappointment. We learned that the president of the D. Baxter Fan Club is an adult male. We also saw more video of adult males who dress up their small dogs. Oh, and on the field? It was just as bad. A 1-2-3 inning for Arizona.
The final three innings were nothing to write home about. The Giants would tack on one more run in the top of the eighth, with Torres hitting a sac fly that scored Gregor Blanco. Although it wasn’t a save situation, Sergio Romo would come in to get the final two outs, ending the game on a foul pop-out off the bat of Pennington. Final score: 6-2, Giants. NL West lead: 1.5 games, Diamondbacks.
So, tonight the boys fly to L.A., where they will face a certain Cy Young winner tomorrow. Let’s hope their bats were sent on ahead. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more beach balls over the next few days. Hopefully, we’ll also be seeing a lot fewer dogs at the park.
In the GDT, imstillhungry95 led the way, just ahead of Rockkstarr12 and JoeCB1991. The dog-pack behind them consisted of: Airwave, Clefo, Diamondhacks, Fangdango, GuruB, Jim McLennan, John Baragona, Lozenge, MadManWithABox, Majabe, Marc Fournier, PR151, Scott Howard, TolkienBard, Torrey's Tacos, asteroid, azshadowwalker, ford.williams.10, hotclaws, luckycc, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, rd33 and xmet.
It's off to Southern California now for the D-backs, who start a six-game road-trip next week, which will see them go through Los Angeles and San Diego. Things start off tomorrow evening in LA, with Wade Miley taking on Clayton Kershaw.