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AZ 5, Rockies 2 - Kim: Young, Ill*

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Record: 6-3. Change on last season: +3

                    Separated at Birth

     Byung-Hung Kim             Kim Possible

[* = I was going to track down a pic of the Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, but figured you'd rather have a photo of Ms. Possible ;-)]

"Sweep". A phrase not heard in connection with the Diamondbacks - at least, in a positive sense - in over 20 months. It's thus a delight to finally be able to use it, as we came back from behind again today, to back up another solid starting performance and provide the pitcher concerned with a well-deserved win.

In this case, the man was Shawn Estes, who pitched seven strong innings, allowing four hits, three walks and striking out six. Gosling was less effective in relief, letting two of three hitters reach base; Koplove allowed the inherited runner to score, but otherwise got us out of the eighth innings safely. Bruney picked up the save...and that makes 2005 a career season for him in that category,

The turning point came in the bottom of the seventh innings, when former Diamondback submariner Kim entered from the Rockies bullpen. Counsell walked, Kata bunted him over, Gonzo was intentionally walked, and Counsell stole third.

Then, a major-cross up between Kim and catcher Greene resulted in Kim plunking...not next hitter Glaus, but home plate umpire Kerwin Danley on the hand. The ricochet allowed Counsell to score, and Danley had to be replaced; after a lengthy delay, for John Hirschbeck to take over behind the catcher, Troy Glaus doubled, Shawn Green was walked, and Clark doubled home both men.

It's very depressing to see someone like Kim, whom we once adored totally, clearly with such problems, and I think the Red Sox may have been grateful simply to get rid of him, even at the cost of several million dollars. Meanwhile the Rockies would perhaps have been better off signing Ms. Possible, even given Moneyball's warnings about drafting high-schoolers. ;-)

Two hits for Glaus - including his first single of the season - and two for Tony Clark, who has done surprisingly well so far, going 7-for-13 with 5 RBIs in limited playing time. But on the whole, this was another case where pitching was the key, and it's comforting to realise we can win a game with more ways than simply slugging the hell out of the opposition.

To wit: only score 3.67 runs/game during a series, and still get the sweep? Let me hear you say, "Hell, yeah." If the hitting was the strength through the first couple of series, the pitching got it done this time round, limiting the Rockies to just four runs over the three games. Three games: three quality starts, covering 21 innings with an ERA of 1.29. Admittedly, these came against the team widely picked to have the worst record in the majors this year, but it's a start, no pun intended.

And hence:
Heroes + Zeroes, Series 3: vs Colorado, at home
Brad Halsey: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 0 ER
Brandon Webb: 8 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, bullpen saviour
Shawn Estes: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 ER
---------------------------------------------
Chad Tracy: 1-for-7, 0 BB

Honourary mentions for Tony Clark, Royce Clayton (yes, credit where it's due) and Brandon Lyon. A lack of real zeroes - the hitting could certainly have been more productive (.241, with no home runs), but you can't fault 17 walks, even though a bunch of them were intentional (including two during Kim's one-innings disaster this afternoon).

I think that's the difference between the 2004 and 2005 Diamondbacks - last year, it seemed like we needed good pitching and good hitting to win games, and that didn't happen very often. This year, if the hitting doesn't get it done, the pitching does: a 6-3 homestand is very acceptable, but the good thing is, it's not a stretch to say it could have been 8-1.

Looking at the way the team has played over this opening stretch, .500 no longer seems like an unrealistic goal. [Hey, we only need to win 75 more!] True, we can't continue to expect Tony Clark to hit .538, Craig Counsell to get on base more than half the time, or Chris Snyder to slug .667, but nor can we expect Javier Vazquez to post an ERA of 15.43. We've shown we can beat anyone, at least at Bank One Ballpark. Now, we have to show we can do it on the road.