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AZ 5, Rockies 3 - TV Dinner

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Record 7-6. Change on last season: +3

[The TV studio has been made up to look like a fake pitcher's mound, with impossibly bright green fake grass. The sprightly music plays over a montage of blown saves. Bob Sagat comes out, all teeth, tan and expensive suit. The crowd applauds, as if a new pope had just been elected. Yes, get today's topical reference in early, I always say. Sagat waves to the crowd with almost sincere warmth."]

"Thank you, thank you. Good evening, and welcome to tonight's edition of America's Suckiest Relievers. Only two weeks into the season, there have been some fine entrants, and now we're in Colorado, so we're looking forward to some really good meltdowns. We've already had an international entry from here - one B-H. Kim - so let's give a warm, mile-high welcome to tonight's entry, Ryan Speier!"

[A gate at the back of the set opens, and out sprints a man wearing Rockies shirt #23. The crowd applauds wildly]
"Good evening, Ryan."
"Thank you, Bob. I'm delighted to be here."
"Now, tell us, Ryan - what have you got for us tonight?"
"Well, I'm going to come in from the bullpen with a 3-0 lead, allow hits to five straight batters, and see if I can't get rid of that lead in 14 pitches"
[Crowd makes loud ooh-ing sound]
"Good luck there - if you manage that, I think you'll be sure of a place in our final. Take it away, Ryan!"

Yes, there's perhaps nothing funnier than the opposition bullpen melting down. It really makes you forget that, only over the weekend, we saw two viable nominees wearing Arizona shirts, in the shape of Randy Choate and Mike Koplove. But hey, at least they got someone out: a lucky groundout here; a deep drive to the warning track there. Speier didn't even do that. In honour of the occasion (and new pope BMW I), here are the ten relievers with the worst ERAs so far this season. In reverse order, natch.

10. Ryan Speier (COL), 15.75 - 4 IP, 7 ER
 9. Juan Cruz (OAK), 16.20 - 5 IP, 9 ER
=8. Tom Martin (ATL), 19.29 - 2.1 IP, 5 ER
    Scott Dohmann (COL), 19.29 - 4.2 IP, 10 ER
 6. Joe Horgan (WAS), 20.25 - 4 IP, 9 ER
 5. Carlos Almanzar (TEX), 21.60 - 1.2 IP, 4 ER
 4. Javier Lopez (COL), 22.50 - 2 IP, 5 ER
 3. Greg Aquino (ARI), 36.00 - 1 IP, 4 ER
 2. Antonio Osuna (WAS), 42.43 - 2.1 IP, 11 ER 
 1. Allan Simpson (CIN), 67.50 - 0.2 IP, 5 ER

Actually, Lopez is now playing for Arizona, having been (somewhat inexplicably) claimed off waivers, but we can't take credit for his carnage so far. In case you're wondering, among all pitchers, Gosling is 16th, Vazquez 18th, and Choate =21st worst, credible performances given 366 people have taken the mound this year. Among starters, Vazquez is second only to Sidney Ponson (8.2 IP, 13 ER).

While Simpson is #1, let's hear it for Osuna, whose line deserves extended coverage:
Osuna: 4 GP, 2.1 IP, 9 H, 7 BB, 11 ER, 42.43 ERA
More startlingly, he managed this after only allowing two hits and one run in his first two games. Over his other two, however, he faced fifteen batters, and twelve reached base:
Apr 8: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 ER
Apr 10: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 ER
Apr 11: Disabled list with a strained right shoulder.

No kidding; throwing batting practice is hard...

Anyway, back at Coors, we staged another late rally to snatch victory; I think this season we've come from behind more often than Ron Jeremy [ah, how many articles this morning are going to mention both him and the Pope]. It was a comfort to read that when I got back from Go Daddy at 2am; I couldn't find out there, because they were enforcing the "no surfing" policy. Unfortunately, they weren't enforcing the "No irritating phone reps doing bad Arnie impressions for 20 minutes at the top of their lungs right behind me" policy. But I digress...

A surprisingly inoffensive game at Coors, the two teams putting up 15 zeroes on the board between them. The Rockies did all their damage in the fourth, with Webb allowing three runs on three hits and two walks, and has Counsell's defense to thank for not making it more. Overall, Webb allowed six hits and three walks, while striking out six and, for what seems like the first time in ages (but is probably only a few days), the trinity of Bruney, Choate and Koplove kept the opposition in check for Lyon to save.

Snyder was the batting star, going 3-for-3 with a walk; Shawn Green had two hits and an RBI, while every other starter bar Gonzo and Webb had a hit. Five runs is still a bit low at Coors, but we'll take it, as long as the Rockies only score three. Glaus had our only extra-base hit though - his fifth homer of the year - and overall, it was a day for slap hitters rather than sluggers, fifteen of the 18 combined hits being singles.

A quick nod to our bench; Clark singled and Kata walked, while the Rockies' pinch-hitters went 0-for-4. And Tracy ended 60-innings errorless streak with a bad flip to the pitcher at first; he also started the streak with the previous error, back on the 10th. We now lead the majors in double plays turned with 19. And we bid farewell to Adam Peterson. Who? The player traded for Shea Hillenbrand, who was claimed off waivers by Detroit. Farewell, we hardly knew ye...

Thanks to frienetic, Otacon, azpenguin and Giants ambassador Daniel for stopping by, as it's back above .500 we go. This was the first off a long series of games against NL West opponents, that will really show how we stack up against them. As Ryan pointed out in Random Fandom, we need to beat up on the Giants while they're crippled, and San Diego haven't yet quite been the force they were expected to be. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are exceeding all expectations, with a 3 1/2 game lead already.

Another interesting suggestion on the lineup front - Levski gets credit for this one, from what I can tell. Drop Clayton to eighth, and just move everyone else up a spot. This would be better at keeping the L/R/L thread than shifting Tracy, which would give us Counsell, Tracy and Gonzo, all lefties, in spots 1-3, and Gonzo would likely be better at getting on-base than Tracy. But the main thing is to get Clayton - 1-for-5 yesterday - the hell out of the #2 spot. Do that, and they can arrange the rest of the lineup alphabetically, for all I care.