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AZ 0, Giants 4 - Schmidt Happens

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Record: 36-37. Change on last season: +9

Despite my lack of comments, I did get to see the first half of last night's game - but since we were sitting in Islands restaurant, I didn't think they'd let me use their computers.

After dinner, we headed off on a quest for a soundtrack CD - the final of Comedy Slamfest (if you didn't know, we run the biggest comedy contest in Arizona, in what is laughingly called "our spare time") is tonight, and the theme is Star Wars. Got that, and also picked up a copy of The Phantom Menace for $1.99; oddly, I'd never actually seen it, so we rectified that when we came back to the house. Hey, it maintains the "Darth Vader" theme the D'backs are having this week.

The film had its moments [the pod race, Darth Maul] but also contains perhaps the most ill-conceived character in the history of cinema: I daren't even mention its name, but let's just say the initials are JJB. This...thing sucked the very life from the movie every scene in which it appeared, with an enthusiasm previously only seen in Jim Carrey and Robin Williams flicks, and I can see why Lucas got hammered for it.

Game? You want to hear about the game? No, you don't. Trust me, it's better to hear me ramble on about anything else. But since you insist, we continued our 2005 Cy Young tour, in which we provide highlight reels for every candidate in the league. Last night was a 13-strikeout, two-walk performance against Jason Schmidt and two relievers - our 5-6-7 hitters - Glaus, Tracy and Cruz - went 1-for-11 with ten K's.

Cruz in particular looked horrible: first time through, Halsey had a much better at-bat. Thankfully, Luis Terrero began a rehab assignment down in Tucson on Tuesday, which will soon give us an alternative to Cruz - or, at least, an alternative whose name doesn't start with Q. Gonzalez had two hits, but no-one else managed anything to speak of, and we didn't even get anyone past second base.

About the only positive thing to take from the game - except perhaps Glaus's return - was a quality start by Brad Halsey, though eight hits and three walks in 6.1 innings is still nothing too startling. Said Melvin, "He used both sides of the plate effectively. He had good action on his cutter today. He really needs to pitch off that cutter inside and he did tonight. He pitched great." Well, "great" is a bit much, but it was certainly a step above his last couple of performances.

Overall, though, our opponents are collectively still hitting .304 off our pitching this month, and have outscored us by 38 runs in twenty-one games - that would be why we've gone 6-15. Doesn't seem to be affecting Tony Clark and Chad Tracy, who are hitting .379 combined (44-for-116) - the former is at .375 and leads the team with 6 HR and 19 RBIs, while Chad is at an equally impressive .385.

Also batting above .300 this month: Gonzalez (.337), Cintron (.333), and Clayton (.304). Counsell is only hitting .224, but has three home runs in June: since his 1995 debut, he's only had three seasons with more than that - four each in 1998 and 2001, and now five this year. Worst of all is Jose Cruz Jr., who's currently at .141: in 64 at-bats, he has nine hits, eight walks, and 24 strikeouts. Have your back surgery soon, please, Jose.

At least we're not in LA, where sales of razor-blades have risen 300%, after the news that Eric Gagne is likely to be out - some estimates say, until after the All-Star Break. Er, 2006, that is. Yes, I think the Dodgers' season is now likely as over as the Giants' one. It's now just us and the Padres - and the way we've been playing, San Diego need simply turn up at their remaining games to claim the NL.

Reading reaction to the news from Dodger fans, I don't think AZ has experienced anything like that. I know we lost Randy for half of 2003, but when a starting pitcher goes down, it makes no difference to 4/5 of the games. The closest recent parallel might be Richie Sexson, but he hardly had time to make an impact - you don't miss what you never had. Gagne has been close to a sure thing since 2002; only a few pitchers have 100+ saves between then and this season. Gagne has 152. [Rivera? Just 121.] It's actually Gagne's second Tommy John op, he had it back in 1997 following his first minor-league season.

And finally, congratulations to Conor Jackson and Miguel Montero for making the 2005 All-Star Futures roster. Jackson may not remember much about it, since he was hit in the head by a ball during batting practice yesterday, and ended up in hospital as a precaution. But you might have missed Montero, a 21-year old prospect - he's been catching and DH'ing down in Lancaster and is currently hitting .355 with 21 home runs. Well done to both.