Record: 31-27. Change on last season: +8
After a five-game losing streak, there's no better way to start a game than putting four on the board before the first out. It's like a deep breath of fresh air, and acts as a tonic, making the traumas and tears of this road trip seem a distant memory. We sent ten to the plate, including Brandon Webb: that's the first time a D'backs pitcher has batted before throwing a pitch since September 18, 2001 - against the Rockies at Coors, natch.
That day, we scored six in the first, but only won 10-9, which is eerily close to the final result here. His early at-bat seemed to disturb Webb, who never really looked comfortable. He laboured through five innings, taking 103 pitches to get there, and allowed eight hits, three walks and four runs. The fifth was particularly uncomfortable, as the Phillies had chances to pull much closer, but Webb survived to get the W.
Cormier took over and pitched three almost-perfect innings, his longest outing of the season, with just one Phillie hit by a pitch. This was a shame, as I was hoping we might be holding him back for Wednesday's spot-start - looks like I'll still get to "enjoy" Claudio Vargas in that one. Cormier even had an RBI single: as Otacon points out, he's been perhaps our best reliever this season, with a sparkling 1.78 ERA, though hitters are still batting .275 against him, which is a little high for comfort.
Bruney made things very interesting - in the sense that, oh, having Marilyn Manson date your teenage daughter would be "interesting". He was only supposed to be in for a spot of work, but rapidly turned it into a save situation. The first four hitters reached base against him, though I think his hitting of Lieberthal might have been part payback for several D'backs players getting hit in this series [especially with Lieberthal having been behind the home run that wasn't yesterday].
After that, Bruney struck out Abreu and Thome, the two most dangerous hitters on the club (though Thome has been way down this year), then walked Burrell to bring the tying run to the plate. Just to add a touch of weirdness, the umpire added a ball to Bruney's count because he went to his mouth on the mound, putting him 2-0, before he delivered a two-run single, and the tying run was on first. Exit Bruney, stage left, pursued by a bear, before Lopez got the final out, and the tightness in my chest eased off.
I have to wonder if Bruney might be heading back to Triple A; he's certainly not a credible candidate as closer. According to the Banana, he's been tipping his pitches, but I seem to recall similar conspiracy theories (and I say this, as a big fan of conspiracy theories) being floated earlier this year. It's a nice excuse, with little justification at all. Aquino should be back in a week or so, after his rehab sessions in Tucson are finished, and will likely take over.
A hit for every starter bar Webb and Counsell; the latter went 0-for-5. Who was the genius that said before the game, "Might be a day to sit Craig"? Oh, that was me, wasn't it? :-) And can I just say what a pleasure it's been to see the Phillie Phanatic in action over the past few days? Now, that's a real mascot.
Heroes and Villains, Series 19: vs. Phillies, on road
Gonzalez: 10-for-16, OBP .700, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Clark: 8-for-15, 4 RBI
Cintron: 5-for-11, 3 RBI
Glaus: 1-for-12, 6 K
Bruney: 2/3 IP, 4 H, BB, HBP, 4 ER
Vazquez: 4 IP, 10 H, 8 ER
Plenty of villains here: much as I wanted to, I couldn't even find room for Halsey's 6 IP, 9 H performance. Bruney would have merited a much lower ranking if he (or Lopez) had blown that six-run lead, while Vazquez suffered the kind of flashback to Opening Day that normally requires a large quantity of bad LSD. Cintron got his season average back up to .288, while Tony Clark hit over .500. Gonzo was monstrous, hit his 300th homer, and couldn't have been more of an all-American hero if he'd worn a cape.
It may be early, but Baseball Prospectus have started with their post-season odds chart. Currently, the D'backs are given a 12.8% chance of making the playoffs. If you'd said on Opening Day that in the middle third of the season, we'd have almost twice the chance of the Yankees (6.7%) at post-season competition, I'd have laughed and recommended lying down in a dark room.
More later, with draft thoughts, etc.