Record: 41-42. Change on last season: +11
I've decided a shrug of the shoulders and the above phrase is the best way to cope with this team. Enthusiasm will be dashed, and aggravation is equally pointless; you might as well get annoyed at rain [Note to AZ residents: this "rain" of which I speak is water that actually falls from the sky. Yes, I know that is difficult to believe, but I believe it's quite popular in some parts of the country].
If I've learned anything this year, it's that the only thing consistent about this team is its inconsistency; on our day, we can kick anyone's butts, and look good doing it. However, we never know what day that is, and are also equally capable of losing horribly to a bunch of Triple-A scrubs. Or, worse yet, the Royals.
I was almost right with my facetious suggestion we'd sweep the Dodgers in LA: we do take the series, and with our most emphatic win in quite some time (seven ties our season-high margin of victory). Those batting practice jerseys came out again and, according to Melvin, "You will see them tomorrow, even with purple hats. We're not the fashion police around here, we're going to use whatever works." Whatever, dude...
Another blazing start, with our starter batting before he had to throw a pitch for the second time this season: my "we'll struggle" prediction will not go down in the annals of history, and I ask you not to mention it again. :-) We put five on the board, and have outscored the opposition 68-26 in the first innings. This is a nice contrast to certain, later innings we could talk about - I'll mention no names, but Take Me Out to the Ballgame is likely not the Diamondbacks' favourite song this year.
Nor is Brad Halsey likely to find a warm welcome in Los Angeles for a while, hitting three batters, and breaking the wrist of J.D.Drew, who was merely tied for the lead in homers for the Dodgers this year. I did wonder about the prospect of some on-field fireworks: Gonzo got plunked in the top of the fourth, and Saenz was hit leading off for LA in the bottom half, but nothing came of it.
I guess Halsey was effectively wild - rather than wildly effective - conceding three runs over 5.1 innings, but for the second day in a row, the Dodgers almost tied it with a long blast. Though at least this time, Green didn't quite need to fall into the stands to grab Perez's attempt at a three-run homer.
Halsey then turned it over to the bullpen, who allowed one base-runner the rest of the way. Hope I'm not jinxing things, if I say I'm beginning not quite to have entire litters of kittens, every time our relievers come into the game - though the odd one still pops out, now and again. Valverde is becoming quite impressive, though I fear overuse may take its toll. He's appeared in seven of the last 12 games, throwing 150 pitches - and it'd likely have been more if he hadn't begged off to his uncle's funeral for two days.
Three hits for Cintron, and two each for Counsell, Green and Snyder, the last two also having three RBIs each. Thanks to Devin + Otacon for their comments, as we leave the series 4.5 back of the Padres, which I think is where we come in. Of course, things don't get any easier, as we face the team with the best record in the NL, the Cardinals. But we'll cross that bridge later. For the moment:
Heroes and Zeroes, Series 27: vs. Dodgers, on road
Green: 4-for-12, 4 RBI, 2 HR
Gonzalez: only 2-for-12, but that catch
Snyder/Stinnett: 5-for-11, 3 RBI
Clayton: 1-for-7, 4 K
Vazquez: 6.2 IP, 6 ER
A series that started so abysmally - with a 7-0, three hit whipping - turns into a road win, despite an absence of quality starts. I'm wondering if there's a stamina issue with Vazquez: in his first 45 pitches, batters hit .260 off him; after that, it's .299. Clayton was pretty mediocre at the plate. Film at 11.
On the up side, unexpected production from our catchers, while Gonzalez's game-saving kamikaze act in the outfield likely turned this series around. Green seems to enjoy playing his old team-mates - his OPS is 1.046 against the Dodgers this year, almost 200 points higher than overall (.854).
Congratulations to Luis Gonzalez, for his nomination to the All-Star game, his fifth in seven years with the Diamondbacks. Brandon Webb still has a chance, because he's one of the nominees on the "Last Man" ballot - but realistically, I've almost got a better chance of winning the last spot than he does. We just don't have the fanbase yet to drive any sustained campaign - Glaus's bronze medal at third base was all we could manage. Gonzo couldn't even crack the top two dozen in the popular vote.
Shea Hillenbrand made the AL squad, but Randy Johnson won't be on the field in Detroit, which is something of an unusual occurrence. Of course, some truly dumb choices from the fans this year, as ever [paging Mike Piazza - and Tony Womack came fourth at second base...]
All of which render the concept of "this time, it counts" more ludicrous than ever. The All-Star Game needs to decide whether it's a serious contest or a fan-friendly farce, rather than trying to be both. At least the All-Star game will be Bonds-free for the first time since I moved to America. Though Kenny Rogers' presence on the team is a major PR blunder - but that's a subject for another rant, I feel.