Record: 39-38. Change on last season: +12
So, you're without both your top average and home-run hitters - who're also #1 and #2 on the team for RBIs. You've scored three runs in the past two games. And you're facing a pitcher with a 9-4 record, who has won three straight, while your starter has only just got his ERA down from double digits. What do you do?
Move your first baseman to left field.
Obvious, really: I don't know why we didn't think of that before. And Bob Melvin looks likes a frickin' genius this morning, because I think it's possible that the first six innings of this game were the best Arizona have played all season. Long ball, little ball, pitching: it all came together, as we roared out to score thirteen runs, while Vargas allowed only one hit.
As in his last start, we put a three-spot on the board in the opening frame, highlighted by Green's shot into the pool area. But this time, we built upon it. And kept building. Three runs in the second, the key blow a two-run double by Cintron. Three more in the third (bye-bye, Bonderman!). Two in the fourth. Three hits for Cintron, Tracy and Green, two for Stinnett: six different players had at least a hit, a run and an RBI.
Meanwhile, Vargas allowed four hits and two walks, striking out eight. He was clearly gassed in the seventh, tho' Koplove didn't help, facing four batters, getting one out, and allowing an inherited runner to score as well as two of his own. Valverde was good in the eighth, but having seen the Tigers score seven runs in the last three innings, and load the bases against Aquino in the ninth after scoring twice (thanks to a Cintron error), I probably wasn't the only one relieved when the final out was recorded - it was probably no bad thing the Tigers had to use Friday's starting pitcher, Maroth, as a pinch-hitter.
Glaus was missing, because he was getting a cortisone shot in his knee; Cintron subbed, which was no big surprise. The shock was seeing Chad Tracy get the start in left, replacing the bereaved Luis Gonzalez, and he didn't embarrass himself at all. Melvin preferred this over both McCracken and Hairston - the latter appears to be on Bob Melvin's black list for some reason or other. I imagine he may be sent back down to Tucson when Luis Terrero is ready: after starting his rehab assignment 1-for-12, Terrero went 5-for-9 over the weekend.
Thanks to everyone who came to the party yesterday: scoring 13 runs makes it a lot more fun! Englishdback and devin joined me on the play-by-play - though a minor tap on the wrist to the former for what could be construed at gloating over the 16-0 walloping handed out to the Giants. :-) [Okay, who am I kidding: I confess I smiled when I saw that score too, but I do believe in the baseball gods and karmic retribution, and exercise caution with regard to mocking. See my making fun of Douglass over the weekend for an example!]
Otacon mentioned something that scared me: a suggestion by commentator Thom Brennaman that we should trade Jackson and Cintron for Brad Lidge. Now, I like Lidge - he's one of the few fantasy players I own to have lived up to expectations - but another element of my philosophy is that closers are over-rated. Giving up a top prospect to get one would be a huge mistake, especially until we see if Lyon can come back.
We take two of three against the Tigers, which is what I expected - just not quite the two games I thought. With the Dodgers getting swept, a little bit of daylight opens up there, and we remain in the mix for both the NL West and the wild-card.
Heroes and Zeroes, Series 25: vs. Tigers, at home
Estes: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER
Green: 4-for-10, 5 RBI, 2 HR
Cintron: 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Vazquez: 6.1 IP, 10 H, 4 ER
McCracken: 0-for-8, GIDP
Again, hard for find zeroes or heroes in this series, thanks in part to the shifting lineup - only Green and Counsell started all three games. Estes continues to impress; he didn't go the whole game this time, but can hardly be criticized for that. Green and Cintron continue to have nice Junes. Vazquez was largely unimpressive on Saturday, and McCracken didn't exactly seize the change given to him.
Speaking of Estes, I'm sure it's pure coincidence that the following two articles appeared on mlb.com and the Banana's site respectively, four hours apart:
Estes signing paying off - "That one-year contract that Shawn Estes signed with the Diamondbacks back in January is looking better and better every day... He has nine quality outings in his 15 trips to the mound this season... Said Estes, "Mechanically, (my delivery) is much more simple than it was the last couple of years... The mental aspect probably has the most to do with it, being more aggressive and having more confidence in my stuff.""
Estes in control on the mound - "His mechanics are simpler, more refined, but he said his mind-set has been the real key. "Mentally, that probably has the most to do with it," he said. "Being more aggressive and having more confidence in my stuff." ... Nine of his 15 starts have been "quality" starts...Not bad for a guy the Diamondbacks signed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, a relative bargain considering the market over the winter."
Hey, this journalism thing's easy! :-) Or perhaps not, since no-one apparently fancied the idea of standing in for me, so I could have a couple of days off. :-( In the end, though, the trip fell through, so no need for a pinch-hitter. The team do have a day-off today, so that'll likely give me a break. Don't expect much from me tomorrow before the game preview unless something startling happens overnight...