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AZ 5, Padres 9 - Russ to Judgement

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Record: 27-19. Change on last season: +10

Before the season started, I wasn't all that concerned about the long-term signing of Russ Ortiz - say, in comparison to giving Shawn Green a contract. Sure, it seemed a lot of money to pay a middle-rotation guy, but he didn't have that bad a record, and the term "workhorse" was heard a lot. But now, I find myself cringing every time his spot in the rotation comes up. Last night was Exhibit A in this matter: fourteen baserunners in six innings, and Ortiz handed the Padres a three-run lead in the first, allowing five hits.

Overall, he allowed six walks - three of them coming with two out in the third innings - and eight hits. While throwing 118 pitches to get through six innings is not the behaviour of the promised "innings eater". He does seem to be capable of getting out of jams; perhaps because he's so good at getting into them. OBA with the bases empty: .339. With runners on: .269. With runners in scoring position: .226.

Mind you, the bullpen and our hitters were scarcely without fault in the matter either, and I'd also have to question some managerial decisions (such as Clayton laying down a bunt when we're 3-0 down). Despite Ortiz's issues, we were still in this one, 4-3, at the end of the seventh before Koplove, Lopez and Cormier allowed five runs in the final two innings.

15 hits to go around; two each for Counsell, Gonzalez, Glaus, Cruz and - you might want to sit down - McCracken, for only the second time since last August. But it was the old problem: failures with runners in scoring position. We went 2-for-10 with a walk; Green was the worst offender - here's his at-bats.
1st. Runners on 2nd+3rd. Struck out looking
3rd. Runners on 1st+2nd. Grounded out
5th. Runner on 1st. Singled.
6th. Runners on 1st+2nd+3rd. Struck out looking
8th. Runner on 1st. Grounded out.

Certainly, it's perhaps still too small a sample size to criticize individual players for their performance in this area [though both Glaus and Green stand out, at .170 and .184 respectively]. But as a whole, after more than four hundred at-bats with RISP, the team is only hitting .237, thirty points less than the opposition. That might be the key to the perplexing run differential.

It says something about the crowds we've had so far this year, that 24,579 actually seemed pretty decent, given the Suns were playing a televised playoff game next door in America West [it certainly affected the crowd for the wrestling, which was about 1/3 off the previous show]. We'll see how things go tonight and tomorrow, without the competition.

Brandon Lyon's MRI was inconclusive, so he's going back for a re-shoot tomorrow, although as far as he's concerned, "I think my arm is fine. It just needed some rest." Greg Aquino continues to make steady progress, but the current timetable for his return to the majors is still three to four weeks.

Snyder will continue to remain the #1 catcher: "He's swung the bat better than his numbers look. He's hit some balls hard right at people, and he's also gotten some timely hits." Not many of them though: his RBI last night was the first since the 14th, and he's gone 3-for-23 since that time. However, Kelly Stinnett is hardly setting Tucson ablaze, hitting just .192 [5-for-26] with one RBI.