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AZ 2, Braves 3 - The Land of Lost Opportunities

Record: 48-51. Change on last season: +16

Welcome to Wastedchanceville. Population: us. Where to start? You know the Padres have lost again. Your pitcher throws a no-hitter through 5 2/3 - even after Devin mentioned the (taboo, according to baseball lore) topic in the comments! :-) The opposition hands out ten walks - five of them leading off an innings. And you still can't win, leaving thirteen of 15 on base, as a ninth-innings 0-2 homerun gives the Braves victory. If anyone needs proof the 2005 Diamondbacks are doomed to fail, this was it.

Halsey was spectacular, however; he didn't just mow down the Braves through the front five innings, he also reached base in his first two at-bats, on a hit and a walk. His only glitches came in the seventh, when a hit batter and two doubles gave the Braves a 2-1 lead, after McCracken drove in the go-ahead run for us, with a single in the bottom of the sixth, after Green walked and stole second.

Pinch-hitter Tony Clark tied the game in the eighth, doubling home McCracken from first. But Cintron flied out and Clayton grounded out, setting the stage for Jones' anti-heroics. Our anaemic offense mustered only five hits, with Clayton wearing an ohfer-5, bringing his recent good streak to a screeching halt. 1-for-11 with runners in...oh, I'm sure you know the drill by now. ;-)

Worrell made his Arizona Diamondbacks debut, getting the last out of the eighth innings after Halsey was pulled. Valverde was tagged with the loss after giving up the home run in the ninth, ending his streak of nine scoreless outings. I blame the vote of confidence offered by Melvin before the game: "If we're in the eighth inning, where we are now, it's going to be Valverde. Period," Melvin said. Yes, it's just the ninth he needs to be kept away from...

Okay, I'll restrain my sarcasm: the ball Jones clobbered was just one of those where you tip your hat to the hitter. A 94-mph fastball at the letters shouldn't get deposited over the fence like that. In fact, I'd rather have Valverde in the ninth then Bruney (see yesterday for the reasons why) - Valverde has been the most effective relief pitcher we've had of late.

I've also been pretty impressed with what I've seen of Medders too [only eight hits and three walks in 9.1 innings] And - at the risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic for speaking blasphemy - Koplove, actually, has been quietly solid of late: 7.2 innings in July, 4 hits, one walk, one earned run. Speaking of the month, here's our starters' ERAs so far:

  1. Mike Gosling - 1.17 [11 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 4 K]
  2. Claudio Vargas - 2.49 [25.1 IP, 20 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 18 K]
  3. Brad Halsey - 2.70 [26.2 IP, 24 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 12 K]
  4. Javier Vazquez - 4.40 [28.2 IP, 22 H, 14 ER, 8 BB, 24 K]
  5. Brandon Webb - 7.46 [25.1 IP, 35 H, 21 ER, 8 BB, 15 K]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it's supposed to be this way. ;-) Mind you, Gosling's WHIP of 1.73 is lethal - if he keeps that level up, eventually his ERA will explode to match. The success of Vargas is a comfort, especially as we watch a D'back discard like John Patterson, pitching brilliantly for the team that gave us Vargas.

Patterson was a waste of space here, whom I was more than happy to see leave, but he's been lights out in Washington this year. After eight innings of one-run ball today, his ERA is down at 2.58, but he's had no luck and has twelve no-decisions in 18 starts [as I write, the Nats' game is in the 12th innings, which is typical for Patterson's starts] Mind you, any feelings of a wasted opportunity are somewhat tempered, since he's now on my fantasy team. ;-)

And with that, I'd better get a quick preview up for today's game, which starts in ten minutes. I'll catch the first 40 mins before leaving for work, which should give me some idea which version of Vazquez we're getting to see: The Good, The Bad, or The Ugly...