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AZ 6, Padres 0 - Shark Bait

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Record: 44-47. Change on last season: +14

After last night's game finished, we watched Open Water. To say we'll never go scuba-diving again is an understatement; not that we've ever been scuba-diving to start with, but you get my drift. In fact, it may be some time before we can visit a state with a coastline, just to be on the safe side.

That alone should tell you the D'backs played okay, for our viewing tends to be inversely correlated to the level of Arizona performance just witnessed. Because, if you've just sat through two and a half hours of the G-Force waving futilely at balls closer to the third baseman than home plate, then nothing Hollywood can offer in the way of terror will have much impact.

At times like that, we reach for uplifting films; Die Hard, Evil Dead 2, the early works of Jackie Chan. Okay, "uplifting" may be the wrong word, but stuff to take our minds off the horrors of, say, watching our bullpen blow an eight-run lead. However, if the game goes well, and all is right in the Diamondback universe, then we can safely open the neural pathways to cinematic creepiness in its pure form. Anything by David Cronenberg, for example; Day of the Dead; The Ring; Audition. Open Water isn't quite up there, but it's pretty close.

It was a nice cinematic contrast, certainly, to a very satisfactory way to open the second half. Shutting out the division leaders, on their own turf? I'll take it. Vazquez went eight innings, allowed four hits, one walk and never let a Padre reach third base. Oh, and for good measure, had two hits and scored a run. Not a bad day, all told.

On the other hand, this was still some way short of a perfect performance. Criticism could certainly be levelled at the fourteen runners we left on base. Glaus (0-for-4) had RISP his first two at-bats, and failed to deliver, while Cruz had some particularly ugly hacks and went 0-for-3.

It was a relief to see him yanked for a pinch runner in the 6th after walking...but Terrero was immediately picked off first, after apparently falling asleep. Not the way to impress your friends and win more playing time, though an infield hit later showed the speed that would make him very useful in the vast open space which is centre field at Petco. [I could have sworn I saw a herd of buffalo sweep majestically across it at one point]

But three hits for Green, and two for Tracy as well as Vazquez; we had one or more in every innings; five runs scored with two out; and we took seven walks, even though five came in two innings from the reincarnation of Wild Thing, Dennys Reyes. Mind you, Brian Lawrence also hit three of our left-handers (Tracy, Gonzalez and Cintron), before getting the first out in the second innings, giving us a total of ten free passes.

I don't think we can rely on that every night, and while this win was nice, it lacked the convincing quality you'd expect from the score. Despite plenty of chances, we never had the big innings that would have totally killed off the Padres, but it was good to see Vazquez string together another good performance [not least because he's now firmly on my fantasy team. My pitching staff had two wins, two saves and allowed ten runs in 35 innings, about their best day of the year.]

Thanks to William K. for his use of the word "juggernaut" - which I felt compelled to explain, after my wife asked, "what's a juggernaut?". Interestingly, the first Google hit is for a Marvel Comics character, the second a 1974 movie about a hijacked liner, while the third and fourth belong to bands. Number eight is a wrestling federation, and #10 a softball team.

Page two, however, brings us this Wikipedia article, which explains all. It's derived from the chariot used in a procession to honour a Hindi god; (false) legend says devotees would fling themselves in its path, get run over, and attain salvation. Add in Dex's explanation of the Japanese poetry thing, and it was a startlingly multi-cultural set of comments last night. ;-)

Mixed news on the Lyon front. He threw off the mound in Petco's bullpen, but according to Melvin, won't be back until some time in August - after the trade deadline. Oscar Villarreal has now passed him on the rehab trail, albeit "within the next couple of weeks" is the closest we get to a date for his return.

And it looks as if my first prediction for the second half might come true sooner, rather than later: despite his third cortisone shot during the All-Star break, Glaus's knee is giving him increasing bother, and it was obvious last night. Said Bob Melvin, "You get to a point where it starts affecting other things when you keep playing hurt. I talked to him between innings and he said it's OK, so we'll have to revisit it again."

When Glaus goes on the DL - and it's looking like that, rather than "if" - this raises a range of interesting possibilities:

  • 1. Tracy to third, Clark plays first. J.Random Infielder called up, largely to sit on the bench [Kata most likely]

  • 2. Cintron to third, Tracy/Clark continue to platoon at first; Andy Green (drooled over by Grace and Brennaman on TV last night) called up. Green is hitting .347, and at .592, is outslugging both Quentin + Jackson.

  • 3. Tracy to third, Jackson gets called up and plays first, with occasional assistance from Clark.

While the third might be most fun, it's probably the least likely, unless Glaus is looking at an extended stay on the DL. If he can hang on to the point where Jackson's stay would last until the September roster expansion (so Conor wouldn't get sent back down), this might happen, but Glaus hanging on that long looks unlikely. I'd go with #2: Green is no spring chicken, so this might be his last chance to stick in the majors.

frienetic also wondered about 'Rookie of the Year' qualifications, and if we should 'hold Q+J back', so they are still eligible in 2006. Hitters need less than 130 at-bats in any previous season to be considered rookies (for pitchers, it's 50 innings). Also, if a player spends more than 45 days on a team's active roster, they aren't a rookie next year. Assuming our season ends October 2, that would mean any call-up later than August 18th would be okay by that standard - though if he played everyday, 130 at-bats would still be achievable.

Which also reminds me, I forgot to mention our minor-league All-Stars. Jackson, Green and Jason Bulger were in the Triple-A All-Star game. Between them, the hitters went 4-5 with two RBIs and three runs, while Bulger pitched a shutout innings. And in the AA game, Dan Uggla and Jesus Cota combined for three RBIs, while Enrique Gonzalez, Mike Schultz and Casey Daigle posted zeroes. A hearty well-done to all...even if I suspect Daigle was picked, purely in the hope Jenny Finch would show up. ;-)

And finally, won't you please join me in laughing hysterically at Curt 'The Mouth' Schilling? His much-heralded return as a closer for Boston ended with an L on Curt's forehead, as he allowed a two-run homer to A-Rod. Couldn't have happened to a more arrogant jerk.* Maybe he should ask Randy for advice regarding pitching the ninth against the Yankees?

[* - I don't know if he's changed since going to Boston, or if we simply viewed his personality disorder as "quirky idiosyncracies" when he was our arrogant jerk...]