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AZ 6, Padres 1 - Snakes and Ladders

Record: 45-49. Change on last season: +14

The series which was supposed to determine, once and for all, whether we were contenders or pretenders...ends in an irritatingly equivocal split, and leaves us 5 1/2 games back of the Padres. If you're playing along at home, that's exactly where we were after last Sunday's game. And the Sunday before that. Not quite close enough to be in the race, but not quite far enough behind to say, "Wait until next year!"

On the plus side, playing the division leaders on the road and winning two of four games, is no bad result. We outscored them 20-15, and they never outhit us in any game. Go us. However, we could certainly have done better: at the risk of harping on about it, you don't get anything by bringing men to second or third base. If we'd taken advantage of all our chances, we'd be 1 1/2 games back.

There was both good and bad in yesterday's game, too. Tracy smacked two home runs; he's playing so well right now, I'm thinking of bringing him on to my fantasy team. And I've got Todd Helton at 1B. He's switched to using Luis Gonzalez's bat. Said Tracy, "It's a couple of ounces heavier. It's just a matter of squaring it up with that bat and it goes. I gave it a try against Peavy and hit a home run, gave it a try again today and hit a couple of home runs so I'll probably stick with it for a while."

It's not as if Gonzalez is using it - he might as well be wielding a toothbrush for all the good it's doing him at the moment. 0-for-4 yesterday is, sadly, par for the month so far. But plenty of other hits to go around: three for Glaus, and two for Counsell and Clayton, in addition to Tracy's pair of round-trippers.

However, as englishdback groaned, in the fourth, runners on the corners with nobody out, and we failed to score. Overall, we were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, which is mediocre at best - and things would have looked worse in that category, save for Clayton's 2-run single with two outs in the ninth innings.

Halsey did well, allowing one run over six innings, on five hits, though was harsh on his own performance, saying, "It could have been a lot different with the quality of the team that we were playing and the stuff I was featuring today... Early in the game I was struggling with my command. I was fortunate to get that deep into the game."

Heroes and Zeroes, Series 30: vs. Padres, on road
Tracy: 8-for-18, 6 RBI, 3 HR
Vazquez: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 ER
Green: 6-for-15
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Gonzalez: 2-for-15
Cormier: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 ER
Aquino: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 ER, loss

Tracy stepped it up a notch this series, with four straight multi-hit games. As pointed out yesterday, however, he and Green are about the only consistent regulars we've got. Tracy has been on fire since June 26, batting .361 (22-for-61), and has also hit safely in 18 of the past 21 games. Vazquez turned in one of his best performances of the year in the opener, and seems to be over his June problems.

On the other hand, Gonzo's average for July is down to a miniscule .132 (7-for-53). I'm not sure why - and no-one seems to be asking him about it - but I hope he turns the corner before long. [See this article for why] And the evil pairing of Aquino and Cormier, who allowed five runs in Friday's game, get tagged with zeroes; Cormier gets time off for good behaviour (pitching a scoreless innings yesterday).

Aquino is an enigma. Said Melvin, "We've seen him when he's had great stuff at times this year and we've seen him when he's struggled with his command." Ain't that the truth. Of the sixteen earned runs allowed this year, twelve came in just three appearances, covering only 1.2 innings. In the rest, he's allowed four runs in ten innings - and that includes Friday's two earned runs, one out performance.

Aroogaa! Aroogaa! Lame trade alert! The Chicago Tribune reports, "Reliever Shingo Takatsu could be traded as soon as Monday to Arizona if the Diamondbacks can't strike a deal with Pittsburgh." Presumably Jose Mesa would be the target in Pittsburgh, but giving up any significant prospects for either would be a very, very bad thing indeed.