Record: 23-17. Change on last season: +7
Good job I don't have a job on the radio - after last night's VNV Nation concert, my voice sounds like it was hit by a gravel truck. I was hoping for a D'backs win, so I could use the title 'Victory Not Vengeance' - what "VNV" stands for - but instead have to settle for the name of their second album. Though there's not much to praise in last night's performance. Er, in Arizona's, I mean; VNV were amazing - though Devin [see last night's comments] might not want to hear that!
It was hard to believe it wasn't us sitting last in most offensive categories; we managed just six hits, one by Javier Vazquez. His batting average (.263) and on-base percentage (.333) are now higher than Quinton McCracken (whom he's also out-slugging!), Royce Clayton, Luis Terrero and - this is the scary one - Shawn Green. Whom we're paying $30m over the next three years to hit. Albatross! Get yer albatross here! Jose Cruz had two hits, but from there, it was downhill all the way to Clayton (0-for-3 with a GIDP).
Gonzalez drew the only walk, and also had perhaps the best at-bat of the night in the first [albeit as well a couple of really ugly ones later, according to rastronomical's comment]. Gonzo fell behind 0-2, then fouled off three pitches while working the count full. Finally, on the ninth pitch, with Counsell running from first, he floated a single into first, and Counsell reached third with one out.
That was the high-point. Glaus struck out swinging, making contact with one pitch in four - he may or may not be healthy, but that at-bat made me feel sick. Then Green grounded out on the second pitch he faced, ending the innings, and no D'back passed second after that.
Mind you, Vazquez kept the Astros in check, limiting them to one run through seven (despite a rare error by Craig Counsell). He hasn't walked a hitter in 120 batters, and turned in a sterling performance, reminiscent of the Big Unit last year - less for pitching similarities, than a woeful lack of offensive support.
Then Mike Koplove came in and, very kindly, loaded the bases for the Astros without making them do anything difficult like, say, getting a frickin' hit! Sorry. Two walks and a hit batter, then a pinch hitter completes the equation: Mike Koplove + one single = two runs. Isn't Aquino 100% fit yet? How about 80%? Pray for another one-game "rehab assignment" in Tucson there.
Combined with the Padres beating Atlanta - Kolb failing to hold a ninth-innings lead, a result which hurt my fantasy team as much as it did the Diamondbacks - last night's defeat means our stay at the top is, once more, short-lived. One game and the subsequent off-day, to be precise. Still, guess it's better than nothing, and if you'd told us at the start of the season we'd be one game back a quarter of the way through the year, we'd have taken that.
The odd thing is, there's not really been anyone playing much above what was expected - it's more like a lot of people playing a little better than we thought they might. All our starting rotation, for one (or rather, five), plus Brandon Lyon. Gonzo's return from surgery has probably been smoother than we thought, and Counsell's patience in the leadoff spot has been very pleasant. But otherwise, it's not like we can point to one player having a breakout year.
Elsewhere, we do have an intellectual breakout, comparable to the discovery of fire. Dayn Perry, after weeks of banging the rocks together, has finally discovered what we've known, literally, since Opening Day. "That ugly run differential is mostly the result of a handful of blowout losses (in tandem with the absence of blowout wins), which means the Snakes are entitled to some slack on that front." Well, duh. But credit where it's due for actually admitting it.