Record: 13-8. Change on last season: +4
The Diamondbacks wake up this morning one-half game out of first place in the NL West, knowing that a win tonight will leapfrog them over the Dodgers into pole position. I think it's safe to say that the results produced by this team so far, have surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic of fans.
"A thing of beauty," is how azpenguin described it - thanks also to Otacon for stopping by - and there's a lot to be said for that. Our band of brave little hobbits (I imagine this is the first time the word "hobbit" has been used in connection with Troy Glaus!) have gone into Mordor and fought off the armies of Sauron, albeit not without some heart-stopping moments on the way. Tonight, they can now do something no D'back team in franchise history has ever done, not even the 2001 World Series champions - sweep the Dodgers in LA.
And yet... Perhaps it's the post-traumatic stress brought on by 111 losses last year, but I can't help having qualms. Last night is a case in point. This is not a game we should have won. We were out-hit 9-5; how the Dodgers failed to score a single run over the final six innings remains a cause of amazement. It was as if the Bermuda Triangle had moved to the basepaths, vacuuming up all who dared cross it.
The bottom of the ninth was an impeccable example. We had to do a late run to Target on the way home from the wrestling, and pulled into the parking lot just as the ninth was about to begin with Lyon attempting to save the 3-2 lead. After our surgical strike (blank CDs, contact lens solution and "feminine products"), got back to the car; climbing in, I said, "Now, all I want hear on the radio is the wrapup show." But when I turned the radio on, it sounded as if the LA riots had broken out again.
That's it, I thought. The Dodgers have tied the game, loaded the bases with no outs, and a meteor strike has vaporized the entire D'backs bullpen, forcing Melvin to send Royce Clayton the the mound. Nope; but the Dodgers had two on, two out and a full count. BONK. Drew hits it. Bink. It ricochets off Lyon's glove to Counsell, who throws to Clark, ending it. Silence echoes across the airwaves.
Seems almost like the Dodger fans were tossing anything that wasn't nailed down at Chavez Ravine onto the field. As I drifted through The Sets, I noticed the TV had a close-up of a tennis ball, lying on the grass (breaking the usual rules about not showing anything that might encourage copycat behaviour) and the radio also mentioned a whiskey bottle - that was just in the two innings I heard. Not very impressive.
I also saw our defense go from the sublime to the ridiculous. The former was Chris Snyder's stab and block of a ball that bounced half way to the plate, which he then threw to second, nailing a runner trying to steal. The latter was Glaus and Clayton both muffing the same Dodger chipshot over the mound - would you like a little more egg for your faces, Royce and Troy? - and the ball ended up trickling to a stop with everyone safe.
Ortiz continued the run of quality starts, allowing seven hits and a walk over six innings, with only two runs. Cormer and new LOOGY Lopez took care of the seventh, and Koplove the eighth, allowing a baserunner in each frame, before Lyon (now on pace for 77 saves...) did the rest. We only managed five hits, and had only three baserunners after the fifth innings. Green had two hits, and also made a diving catch in right field. The rest of the lineup: three for 28.
Still, five wins in a row, the most since the "Baby Backs" streak of circa 3000 BC. These are not your 2004 Diamondbacks. At least, not yet. Our opponents are hitting better than we are (.268 to .266). They're scoring better than we are (102-94). That weeping sound you hear is the Pythagorean system of results prediction, crying its eyes out - because teams that are outscored by almost half a run per game do not post 0.619 winning percentages.
So, enjoy it while it lasts. Hopefully, we'll eventually stop riding our luck because, despite our win-loss record, it's hard to look at the teams we've faced and say that we were clearly better than them. Only two of our thirteen wins have been by more than two runs - and only one by more than three. Compare the two other teams with 13 wins in the NL, the Dodgers and Braves. In contrast to Arizona, they've both scored 20+ runs more than their opponents, and six of those wins were by more than three runs.
Thus, while this start remains better than anyone could possibly have hoped, I'm not yet fully convinced. To draw on yesterday's metaphor [and yes, there was an appreciable spike in visits to the site!], we have Pam, Anna and a truckload of chocolate, all assembled in the same location. However, I still can't help thinking that, any second now, Ashton Kutcher is going to leap out from behind the hot-tub and yell "Punk'd!" at us.
Looks like we'll be without Jose Cruz Jr. for a little longer. Sometime during the middle of the next homestand is the current best guess for his return off the DL. Greg Aquino played catch from a distance of 75 feet for eight minutes on Tuesday, so would also seem to be some way off coming back.