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AZ 2, Reds 6 - Dunn In

Record: 42-47. Change on last season: +11

The Tao of Bob, #246
"We have to find a way to score more runs."

I think we'd be better off skipping the first seven innings, and just playing eight and nine, as that's where all our games lately have been decided. For this is not a series that will be remembered for Bob Melvin's managerial prowess. Friday, he goes to the bullpen, who blow the lead and take the loss. Yesterday, he sticks with his starter...who blows the lead and takes the loss.

Of course, it's not really his fault Webb allows more than four earned runs for the first time this year [in yesterday's preview, the words "more than" were, er, eaten by my dog; thanks to Devin for pointing this out - and also to William K, for his very bad pun, which I shamelessly lifted for today's headline]. But with one out in the eighth, the writing should have been on the wall after Webb walked Felipe Lopez on four pitches, then allowed an infield single and a game-tying ground-rule double.

At that point, I feel the Nextel Connect to the bullpen should have been ringing like a hive of bees. Instead, Melvin "showed his faith" in Webb, and though he got the second out after an intentional walk, Adam Dunn smacked a grand slam - Webb's first home run allowed in 34 innings - and this one was over. The lead has evaporated, and say hello to Mr. Defeat. "Webb uncharacteristically left the ballpark immediately after the game and didn't talk to reporters," according to the AP report.

And neither is it Bob's fault our hitters, ah, didn't, save the honourable exception of Snyder, who went 3-for-3, driving in both runs for us [with, whoopee, a pair of hits with runners in scoring position!]. Slots 1-7 - y'know, the ones paid large sums of money for their alleged prowess with the lumber? - were a combined 5-for-29, with no RBIs, no walks and 8 strikeouts. In two games against the team owning the highest ERA in the NL, we've scored a total of five runs.

So much for going into the All-Star Break with momentum, eh? Well, I guess losing our seventh home series in eight attempts counts as momentum, technically, albeit only in a "the louder you scream, the faster we go" kind of way. If I sound rather jaded and fed-up...that's because I am rather jaded and fed-up. After a beguiling first couple of months, the 2005 season has told us it has a boyfriend, but still thinks we're fun to hang out with.

And yet, we cling on, still second in our division despite a record that in the NL East, would see us dead last by two clear games. Our home record in particular has been appalling - only Kansas has more losses in their own park - and outside the NL West, our record is 18-29. At the risk of flogging a dead horse, this is not a team that is a reliever away from the playoffs.

Win or lose today, our stats at the All-Star break put us on track for 76-77 wins over the full season, almost exactly where most predictions before Opening Day expected. However, I'd rather have seen us open the season 12-25, then come back up towards .500, rather than the current slump. We are, after all, supposed to be building towards next year, and this is the core of the team that we'll have in 2006. I'd be hoping to see them gel, rather than fall apart like well-cooked beef, as they currently appear to be doing.