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AZ 3, Giants 4 - Unlucky Thirteen(th)

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Record 8-8. Change on last season: +2

I suppose last night's game could have been another tense nail-biter, if I had had any expectations of victory at all. As was, I largely wrote this one off before it started, so the fact that we came so close to winning it, only to have it snatched away, is no more than a mild irritation.

It was our turn to be unable to convert hits into runs - into the bottom of the 13th, we'd outhit the Giants 11-3, but were locked in a 3-3 tie. I think that, without Bonds, the teams are pretty equal, and we'll see a lot more close games like this for as long as Bazza's injury forces him out. This is a lot worse news for the Giants than the D'backs, since they were expected to compete this year, and we weren't. We are playing a little above expectations so far, but the Giants are below .500, and may be too far back by the time their star returns.

The main (pleasant) surprise was to see Ortiz go toe-to-toe with Schmidt and keep us in the game. Indeed, Russ outpitched the Giants ace by many measures - game scores of 63-57 - allowing three hits and two runs over seven innings, while Schmidt gave up six hits and three runs. "I felt like I only made one mistake," said Ortiz, sentiments echoed by Schmidt: "It was one pitch basically." Both "ones" sailed over the outfield fence, a two-run shot off Ortiz, and Tracy's three-run homer which gave us the lead in the 4th.

Bruney couldn't hold on, however, letting the tying run score in the eighth despite not giving up a hit, on two walks (one on a runner trying to bunt), a groundout and a sac fly - he's appeared in eleven games, leading the majors. Cormier pitched well in the ninth and tenth, while Gosling got through the next two, though was having control issues. I do have to wonder why we only used three arms after Ortiz, while the Giants went through their entire bullpen. Heard something about Koplove having a sore elbow - let's hope that's not serious. He's hardly been lights-out, but even so, we've lost enough relievers for now.

Offensively, it was a little better, though as mentioned, we got them on, but couldn't get them home. The best news was that Alex Cintron got the start in place of Clayton, and had three hits, which should hopefully encourage Bob Melvin to try this more often. Snyder and Counsell had ohfers; everyone else had a hit, Gonzo and Green posting two. But that still extended the streak to eleven games where we've scored no more than five runs.

Thanks to William K, Enoch and Daniel for their comments on the final gave of the roadtrip; we finish 2-5, which is disappointing, but comes after a home stand where we kicked offensive ass. Snyder seems to have become the #1 catcher, playing the last four games of the series, and going 4-for-13 in that time. "I'm not saying he's the everyday guy, but what he does here of late has warranted more playing time for him," said Melvin. Which brings us to:

Heroes and Zeroes: Series 5/6,
vs. Rockies/Giants, on road

Vazquez, 7 IP, 8 H, 0 ER
Cormier, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Ortiz, 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER
------------------------------------
Glaus 2-for-16
Koplove 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER
Choate 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, error

Counsell (1-for-11) would have been a valid contender as a zero, but his stellar defense more than made up for his lack of production at the plate. Unsurprisingly, pitchers dominate a four-game series in which we averaged 2.75 runs/game, but Tuesday's blowout in Colorado also leads to Koplove and Choate picking up zeroes. Cormier is quietly carving himself a reliable niche in the bullpen, and Vazquez's ace performance gets him top honours for the series.

Our bullpen could get an injection of returning talent in about ten days: Jose Valverde "looks phenomenal", according to team physician Michael Lee, and may be ready to come back by May 2nd. I'd say Gosling was the most likely candidate to go down to Tucson; he's more a starter than a reliever. Any other changes would likely require some shuffling of the 40-man roster.