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AZ 10, Dodgers 12 - Offensive Behaviour

Record: 2-3. Change from last season: 0

Five games in, and the good news is, we've scored 36 runs, third in the majors; our team (including our pitchers) is hitting .324, twenty-five points higher than anyone else. Our eleven home runs is more than any other team, and our slugging percentage of .564 is also the best in baseball, by 37 points. If this keeps up, I think it's safe to say we won't be last in the National League in runs scored this season. No problems there.

And then, there's our pitching, with the 29th-best ERA of 6.89, beaten only (and inevitably) by Colorado. Our starters are even worse than the Coors Field rotation, at 7.77, and we're not seeing five innings per game from them so far. The only team getting less is Kansas City, and they had to pull Zach Greinke from a game early after he got taken out by a line-drive [In case you're wondering about my unusually well-informed status, it's 'cos he's on my fantasy team!]. We, on the other hand, remove our starters because they pose a threat to planes landing at Sky Harbor.

The bullpen is performing hardly any better: opposing players are hitting at a .313 clip. There are worse out there; at least we're not giving up many walks and so are doing okay at keeping hitters off the basepaths [our bullpen OBP of .362 is sixth best in the NL]. But as azpenguin pointed out in the comments last night, it can't last. If our starters can only give us 4+ innings, our arms will fall off, especially since we're only carrying six relievers. William K, in another comment, predicts a move towards an extra arm, and the way our games have gone, that is looming as imminent.

Enough generalities; onto specifics, and last night's game - thanks also to Ryan, frienetic and Otacon for their thoughts. Must confess, kept half an eye on the game from the 8th innings, on an ESPN scoreboard tucked away at the bottom corner of my screen. Certainly goes down as a game we could have won, and probably should have won. The most obvious example was in the bottom of the tenth innings, when we loaded the bases with one out, only for our #4 and #5 hitters both to strike out.

Glaus left no less than seven men on base, with that extra-innings failure to put the ball in play the most grievous. He did knock out his third home run of the season, putting him on schedule for 97. ;-) Two hits for Green, including another homer - though we'd have paid a lot for a hit in the tenth - and Counsell was on base four more times. Hitter of the night goes to Chris Snyder, who went 4-for-5 with a home run.

We had the first lineup changes, excluding the catcher platoon, with McCracken in center, Clark at first, and Cintron at short-stop. Q went 0-for-3, but Clark got three hits; Cintron also got one, but also wasted no time before reminding us why we signed Counsell and Clayton, committing an error on the first ball hit to him as a starter. "Plus ?a change, plus c'est la m?me chose." Alphonse Karr, 1808-1890.

Vazquez was hardly any more impressive last night than in the opener, particularly during a wobbly opening. Two runs in the first, he loaded the bases with one out in the second, walked in a run, and went 3-0 on the next hitter. Then, the evil potion wore off, and we finally got to see Dr. Jekyll rather than Mr. Hyde: eleven straight batters mown down, before switching personalities again in the sixth, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk to four hitters.

Final line for Vazquez, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 R, 5 ER - hardly acceptable for the staff ace. Yet Pravda [a.k.a. The Arizona Republic] put Vazquez in its "Cheers" section for the game, in what is the finest example of double-think seen this season. Coming soon, Royce Clayton, nominated as player of the year: "because he didn't ground into a double-play every time he came to bat..."

After Vazquez departed, Oscar Villarreal arrived, allowed the inherited runner to score, but was otherwise okay. He got the call because Greg Aquino was put on the DL, with an irritated ulnar nerve, which has the potential to end his season. Choate and Bruney let the lead slide away (Choate's leadoff walk was particularly irritating - as a LOOGY, you're supposed to get people out, not give them free passes), then Gosling was fine in the top of the tenth, but after we blew our chance, allowed three hits, two walks and four runs in the 11th.

Our hitters still would not go down quietly, and we got the tying run on base with one out before Jose Cruz grounded into a double play. Game lost, series lost, and we've now lost nineteen of the last 22 games against the Dodgers. Ouch. At least the crowd topped 30,000, which is more than I was expecting.