Record: 33-30. Change on last season: +7
I think perhaps it was inevitable, but it seemed that a severe backlash effect took its toll in the D'backs performance last night. We failed completely to solve J.P.Howell, who was making his major-league debut. We managing only one run during his five innings of work, with four hits - the only time the ball left the infield - and no less than eight strikeouts. Said Gonzalez, "He had lefty stuff. I wouldn't call him Cy Young or Randy Johnson, but it'd be nice if we had another shot at that guy." Sorry, Luis, ain't gonna happen. You had your chance, and to be blunt, you blew it.
Meanwhile, Kansas were smacking fellow Longhorn Brad Halsey around like an unwanted stepchild - he allowed six hits in the first innings, meaning Howell collected his first AB in the majors before throwing his first pitch. Overall, Halsey allowed no less than fourteen hits in six innings, along with six runs, and by all reports, looked like the #5 starter we expected him to be.
However, we did almost manage a spectacular comeback of our own. The Royals had an 8-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth, thanks in part to Valverde allowing two more runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. Note that, again, the bullpen couldn't keep us in the game; given subsequent events, if they'd done their job, the result could have been different.
As was, back-to-back home runs for Clark and Green were followed by back-to-back walks, to give us two men on with one out. But an odd play followed: Cintron hammered a drive to third and was initially ruled out on a catch by Teahen, so the runners held their positions. However, the ball had squirted out when Royals' 3B Teahen fell on his glove; he picked the ball up, stepped on third and threw to second for a double play. We finished the game under protest, but there's little chance of it having any effect - even Melvin acknowedged afterwards the call was correct.
Then, again, in the ninth, we threatened, scoring two more and having the tying run to the plate with one out. But Hairston popped out, Snyder grounded out, and our comeback attempt fell short. Here's another Gonzo quote: "That's been the story of our club...if we don't win the game, we put ourselves in a position to almost win the game, and that's the sign of a team that doesn't give up."
Well, that's one way of looking at it. Another way would be that it's the sign of a team that hands over an 8-1 lead, playing against an outfit currently on course for well over 100 losses this year. Or that this, again, demonstrated an abject failure to get hits when they mattered; I see little reason why we should have done other than absolutely tee off on Howell, first-round draft pick or not, since he's less than a year out of pitching in college.
Three hits for Clark, two for Green and Glaus, but it was all, too little, too late. I do wonder about letting Halsey bat for himself in the bottom of the fourth, with the bases loaded. While I can understand not wanting to go to our bullpen early after last night - or, indeed, at all - we already had a 4-0 deficit at the point. The game wasn't on TV, so I can't say how Halsey looked, but his boxscore at that point wasn't pretty.
There is some good news this morning, with Greg Aquino reportedly ready to come up today. It's likely he'll get a couple of generic relief appearances under his belt before getting the closer's spot, since he has only thrown one innings in the big leagues all season. It's a nice change to have someone arrive who hasn't been tried, and found wanting, by another team. With Brandon Lyon still not having even picked up a ball yet, Aquino's return is very welcome.