Record: 24-17. Change on last season: +8
Last night's game was a lot more interesting than it should have been. However, if we had lost it in the ninth - say, if Glaus had not snared Everett's hard smash linedrive with the bases loaded - then the decision which cost us the game could be found much earlier. Specificially, leaving Ortiz in for the sixth innings when the fifth clearly demonstrated he had nothing left in the tank.
Let's face it, getting five innings of one-run ball from Ortiz - and that run should have been unearned, thanks to a passed ball that was called a wild pitch - is more than anyone could rightfully expect. He'd already allowed seven hits and two walks through five, and only escaped the last innings thanks to Tracy being in exactly the right place to take a hit away from Berkman, then double Biggio (who was hit by an Ortiz pitch) off first. The signs were there. In neon. Flashing.
However, Melvin left him in. A walk, a double, and the first home run of Self's career brought the Astros to 7-4. The game was then right back on, all the way to the end, when Bruney got two outs, then let the next three reach (with the aid of an error by Glaus) before finally getting told by Melvin he was the new closer while on the mound, and ending this evening, that demonstrated perfectly why Rolaids sponsor the reliever award.
And it was all going so well too, as we teed off on Andy Pettitte in a manner not seen since...hey, would you believe it, game six of the 2001 World Series? We took him for 11 hits and seven runs in five innings, so maybe that "tipping his pitches" theory still holds. We pounded out fourteen in total: three for Glaus, including his 12th homer, two for Cintron and Gonzo, while every starter, including Ortiz, had a knock.
We were helped by some impressive fielding: I've already mentioned Tracy's unassisted double-play, but Snyder gunned down another runner trying to steal, moving him up to 44% there. This makes him sixth in the majors, behind people with a lot more experience, such as Ivan Rodriguez and former D'backs catchers Damian Miller and Rod Barajas.
However, perhaps the finest play - well, I laughed - was Cormier and Clayton teaming up to pick Taveras off second. They tried it once, but he got back in time; however, he didn't learn, and the next throw from Cormier was perfect, and Clayton just had to hold his glove out for Taveras to run into. Just and fitting payback, given Taveras should have been called out Tuesday for running into the ball. Of course, we made our own base-running blunder off second, Cintron straying too far from it on Clayton's sac fly, and getting thrown out by the cutoff man.
Still, all that was forgotten, as we batted around in the fourth, thanks to Glaus's two run shot, and Cintron's two-run single, both going the other way. It just seems like a very long time since we've been able to do that kind of thing - seems like the opposition has been doing it with some regularity.
Of course, the big news is Lyon going on the DL, which is why I am officially raising the Injury Threat Meter to:
"He's getting better," said Melvin - a statement which I have some difficulty in swallowing, and sounds more like a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "This gives us the time to make sure he's 100 percent, give him an outing or two so he clears his mind once he goes back out there and has his first closing job when he comes back."
In the meantime, Bruney will get the saves, to keep or blow at his whim. I immediately snagged him for my fantasy team, though less out of confidence in his abilities, and more as a stopgap between Kolb losing the job in Atlanta, and the return of Mota in Florida. I do wonder how long Lyon will be gone. I don't know whether this injury is related to the nerve transposition surgery he had last year; I hope not, but I'm not inclined to believe much the D'backs organization says about it.
Elsewhere, Mark from Beyond the Box Score has written about Javier Vazquez and his performance so far. He suggests that the current run of success is largely based on his lack of walks, which may or may not last. He also says that our defensive efficiency is poor (basically the percentage of balls in play which we convert into outs - we're 14th in the NL).
This doesn't seem to jibe with the regular, and oft-spouted wisdom that our defense is much improved this year, but the truth is, we're converting about 0.4% fewer balls into outs than we did last year. It's a shame this is not broken down into fielding positions; I'd be interested to compare, say, Hillenbrand vs. Tracy at first, or Finley vs. Cruz + McCracken in center, to see how they stack up.
And, finally, Diamondbacks boss Jeff Moorad bought a $9.4 million home in Paradise Valley earlier this week (proof where the real money is in sport. Remembers this when you buy your next $9 BOB beer). It's the second most expensive house in Arizona history. Hope he doesn't suffer the same fate as the owner of the priciest home in Arizona history, Pierre Falcone - who was arrested as an arms dealer in France shortly after buying his house. Oops.