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AZ 4, Royals 9 - Real Horrorshow

Record: 33-31. Change on last season: +7

One statistic sums up last night's game better than any other. Greg Aquino came in with an ERA of 36.00. And saw it get worse. By eighteen runs. Yes, Aquino's ERA for the year is now 54.00.

Yet Bob Melvin's reaction? "We've got to try to find a way to put more crooked numbers up there." Oh, so nothing to do with a bullpen outing which saw all five relievers give up earned runs, with the collective line today of: 4 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 8 ER, a HBP and a balk. That would seem to me far closer to the cause on this one, but perhaps Melvin didn't want to sound like a scratched record and blame the bullpen yet again.

Fine effort by Webb, all for nowt. Eight hits of solid ball, allowing six hits and only one run. Unfortunately, we could only muster one run ourselves through the front nine, and as soon as Webb left the game, you knew this was likely to be a loss.

Some credit to our hitters for battling back - twice - in extra innings, but oddly enough, trying to counter a six-run lead proved just too much... Three hits for Green, two each for Clayton and Clark, though Clayton can't seem to bunt for toffee. And another home run for Counsell, who has now already matched his career high for homers, with four. Steroid test this man immediately! :-)

Bizarre managerial decision by Melvin, letting Cormier bat for himself in the tenth, then pulling him off the mound before the eleventh. One could also criticize the fielding that went on in the game: Clayton and Clark combined to allow a runner to score from second on a groundout. And the calling of balls and strikes by the home plate umpire was, by all accounts, pretty bad.

But in the end, it's the bullpen who lost this: you can't let the opposition score in three straight extra innings. We bring Aquino up, and from the moment he hit a batter with his very first pitch, it was clear he wasn't ready. To make room, we sent Gonzalez down to Tucson. Said Melvin, "We knew that Aquino was just a few days away, so he was just here in the interim. And it was a reward for pitching well in the Minor Leagues." He pitched 1/3 of an innings and allowed four earned runs. Thanks for stopping by, Edgar.

Thanks also to frienetic and Otacon for their comments, as we lose our sixth straight series. After this, we now own the worst relief ERA in the NL. Only three teams are above five - we're at 6.25, more than a quarter of a run worse than Colorado. Our bullpen was expected before the season to be credible, with the return of a number of players who missed time through injury. But while the 2004 crew was perceived as bad, and was 14th in the NL, their ERA was only 4.68, giving you some idea of what our performance this year is like.

And it's not going to get any easier. We now hit the road for a ten-game trip, starting off against the White Sox, who merely have the best record in all baseball. Then it's Cleveland, also above .500, before coming back to the West Coast to face the Giants. I would suggest giving the wrong flight details to the entire bullpen, and hoping they don't manage to find their way back, Incredible Journey-style... Better yet: sack, bricks, canal.

Heroes and Bullpens, Series 21: vs. Royals, at home

Green: 8-for-15, 7 RBI

Webb: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 ER

Cintron: 5-for-10

Lopez: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 3 BB, 1 ER

Aquino: 0.1 IP, 2 H, BB, HBP, Balk, 4 ER

Gonzalez: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 ER

The bullpen's collected line for the series deserves to be framed and hung on the wall in some deep, dark Chamber of Horrors, alongside the long-term contracts awarded to Matt Williams and Jay Bell, and an MRI of Richie Sexson's shoulder:

10 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 18 ER

Could have been any of them: I even had to give Herges, and his 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 ER stats, a pass.

Cintron had to miss yesterday's game with a wrist problem - we'll take the obvious jokes as read - but still did enough to merit mention. Webb's performance deserved a better outcome, while Green finally showed signs of life. I'm not prepared to anoint this as a resurrection on the basis of one series, but the long-predicted heating up of Green may be under way. In June, he's hitting .308, and 13 RBIs already matches his total from the previous month and a half.

On a sidenote, Lyon got moved to the 60-day DL, so will now definitely be out until at least July 12th. Given he hasn't even begun light tossing yet, this doesn't seem much of a surprise.