Record: 36-36. Change on last season: +9
I admit it. When the Giants scored the go-ahead run in the fifth innings last night, I thought that was game over. For us to win this would now require our offense to wake from its sloth. Even less likely, it'd need our bullpen to pitch effectively, something that just hasn't been happening in recent weeks.
Plus we'd just got a DVD of Night Watch - see sidebar for details - and when weighed against the angst-producing likelihood of our bullpen crumbling and our offense floundering...well, we've all made more difficult decisions than that. So I bailed. I gave up. I split. I threw in the towel. I quit.
As a result, this morning I am wearing a D'backs hair shirt (road version), for disloyalty and lack of belief in the team. In my defense, when was the last time our bullpen threw four shutout innings in a game? [I checked: May 7th, a 3-2 loss against the Pirates] But that, combined with Tracy's 2-run homer, turned defeat into victory, and gave Vargas a win he scarcely deserved.
For watching him pitch was painful; my wife speculated whether we might call up directory enquiries and ask for the number of the bullpen at SBC Park. Even after we jumped on Tomko, scoring three in the first, thanks to a couple of broken-bat bloops - though it might have been more, save a GIDP by Cintron - it was clear no lead was "enough". The third innings was the worst, as Vargas hit Linden with a pitch to load the bases, and worse yet, then brought the tying run in by hitting Matheny too. At this point, you can see the appeal of Night Watch.
But Valverde, Cormier and Bruney held it together after the fifth - D'backs front office please note, no reject pitchers from other teams played any part in this victory. Tracy's two hits, including the homer, kept him apace with Gonzalez (who, along with Green, also had two), in the race for the Diamondbacks batting crown - they're at .300 and .303 respectively.
No Glaus in the lineup: Troy said it was "just one of those days", and wasn't connected to his wrist; Melvin, however, said "he reaggravated it a hair" during Monday's game. Hmmm... Thanks to William K, Otacon and Devin for their comments, though I note that none of them turned up during the game, so suspect their expectations were about as low as mine!
One interesting thing they showed on the TV coverage was JT Snow clearly sneaking a peek behind him to check whereabout Snyder was setting up. This is one of those "unwritten rules" you're not supposed to break - some are flaky, such as not celebrating a home run, but Snow's actions would give him an advantage at the plate, since he'd know where the pitch was heading. Okay, with Vargas on the mound, where the pitch should be heading, but still...if Snow gets flattened today, this will be why.
Cruz went 0-for-3, and is 4-for-37 over the past two weeks. Interesting quote from our East coast pals, D-Rays Bay: "The Fossum for Cruz trade was an absolute steal. Cruz is injured and ineffective (especially once you adjust his hitting numbers for his home park) while Fossum looks like the best starter on the Rays staff at the moment. Cruz was gone after this season anyway, Fossum can't be a free agent for two more seasons (and the awful years in Arizona will lower his arbitration paydays a bit). Gotta credit ol' Chuckie for that one, he traded away mediocrity for performance and potential."
Speaking of off-season trades, the Big Unit got smacked around by the offensive tigers of...er, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night. He gave up seven runs in three innings, before being unceremoniously "yanked". However, the Yankees came back from 11-2 down, using a thirteen-run eighth - that's more in one innings than we've scored in the past thirty-nine combined - to get Johnson off the hook for the loss. But still: at the moment, his playoff chances appear no brighter than ours.
Over at Beyond the Box Score, Marc has written a piece on various D'backs prospects. Interesting soundbites:
- Brad Halsey: "I think that at some point the double plays will stop saving him and he will suffer for it."
- Conor Jackson: "does not appear ready for the show at this very moment, but considering he is 23 years old they have another year or two to wait on him to turn some of those doubles into homeruns."
- "The Arizona Diamondbacks appear to have turned a corner and are prepared to compete in the future."
Check out the whole article, which is quite optimistic in tone, and that's always heartening to hear from a neutral observer.