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AZ 4, Dodgers 7 - Worrying times

Record: 28-21 Change on last season: +10

Continuing the current line of film references, this one felt like The Ring, since it left me feeling very unsettled and somewhat disturbed. The last couple of games, I've had definite thoughts that this might be the end of the road for our overachieving Diamondbacks. It's hard to put my finger on the reason why, but I suspect a lengthy losing streak beckons, as our failings catch up to us, with a vengeance.

  • Weak hitting Check. 8-for-35 with two walks and 7 K's. Two hits for Counsell and Green, and a two-run pinch hit homer from Clark.
  • Wobbly starter Check. Ortiz allowed six hits and four walks in six innings, with the big blow a grand slam to Jeff Kent after two walks.
  • Bad relief Check. Jose Valverde crossed his name firmly off the closer's list for a while with this performance: three hits, a walk and three earned runs in one innings. Said Melvin, "We've got to get better. Guys have to step up down there. As of right now, that's about the only options we have."

And it was looking so good in the first: Counsell had his (almost inevitable, it seems) leadoff single, then was balked to second by Lowe. Then was balked to third by Lowe. And Cruz knocked one over the swimming pool: 2-0, D'backs. But between than and Clark's shot to tie it at four in the seventh, we got one man past second, with Glaus and Green hitting into double plays.

Couple of oddities about last night's game. They had to close the roof after eight innings, because of a dust storm. And Shaun Estes took matters into his own hands - or rather, feet, stealing his first career base in eleven seasons. It was also the first by a Diamondbacks pitcher since June 1999.

Didn't help though: we slid another game behind the Padres, who continue to roll on. In the comments, Daniel asks about concerns; I think as a D'back fan, whose team wasn't expected to contend at all this year, they're somewhat different from those of Giants fans. The latter are simply hoping to stay in touch until the Second Coming [a.k.a. Bonds' return from injury]. We don't have anything like that to look forward to: this is as good as our team gets, folks. Deal with it.

I get the feeling most fans haven't quite leapt on board the optimism train yet, having been whipped like bad puppies over the course of last year's 111-loss season. Doubt lingers in the mind very well after that. As a result, I don't have "concerns", as such - because I still feel we'll be doing fabulously well to end the season above .500. Playoffs? I think not. Indeed, as previously mentioned, the last thing I want to see, is us sell the future farm at the trading deadline, to try and make it this year.

Noticed something last night: we now only have four people on the entire roster hitting .270 or better. And just two of those are everyday players: Gonzalez, at .303, and Counsell, who leads the team at .315. [The others are pinch-hitter supreme Tony Clark, also at .315, and...Russ Ortiz at .278] In some cases, this is probably expected. Troy Glaus's career average is only .253, so his .267 is above par, and no-one can argue with power numbers that see him currently on pace for 46 homers.

The most surprising (or worrying) drop-off is Chad Tracy. Wasn't he supposed to be developing into a line-drive hitter in the Mark Grace mould? He even won our pre-season poll for D'back with the best batting average. [As an aside, no-one voted for Counsell!] In some ways, there's been a trade off for power - he's already 3/4 of the way to last season's homer total - but has been accomplished at the cost of 50+ points of on-base percentage. And the trend seems to be accelerating. Here's his lines so far:
2004: .285/.342/.407
Apr: .282/.293/.487
May: .269/.289/.462

Good news, bad news on the Brandon Lyon front. He got a second opinion from specialist Dr. Yocum, who confirmed that surgery was not currently needed. However, D'backs team doctor Michael Lee still said the most optimistic date for Lyon's return would be another 3 1/2 weeks. "I think it's more of a strain with a little bit of tendinitis, too," Lyon said. This is why I don't have concerns - because concerns imply an expectation of success. Instead, we get a month filled with Brian Bruney save opportunities. I can hardly wait. :-)