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AZ 3, Marlins 1 - Clinging on

Record: 55-61. Change on last season: +20

Are the 2005 Diamondbacks the worst team ever involved in a pennant race? To get some idea, I went back and checked the standings for August 12th. Since the switch to divisional play in 1969, only four other teams have been sub-.500, yet within five games of the division leader on this date:

Year Team          W-L   GB    Pos/GB
2005 Diamondbacks 55-61  4       ?/?
1997 Brewers      57-60  3.5     3/8
1996 Cubs         58-59  5       4/12
1995 Padres       49-50  4       3/8
1973 Cubs         56-61  4.5     5/5

The last two columns are the position in the division they finished, and how many games behind the winners. Depressingly, no team like us has ever finished higher than third, or less than five games back. Perhaps the closest to AZ for mediocrity were the 1989 Yankees, who were 54-62 on August 12, 5.5 games back - but that was only good enough for sixth in the AL East. They finished 14.5 games behind the Blue Jays, not a good omen for Arizona.

Still, we won last night, making us 10-1 in series finales since June. Maybe we should play more of them. ;-) An excellent performance from Webb, who went eight innings, allowing four hits and one walk and only one run, before Valverde had a perfect ninth, without the Maalox moments we've come to know during the Bruney era. Over his past three starts, Webb has pitched 22 innings and allowed just 10 hits and 4 runs, while fanning 21. Hitters are batting .135 over that time.

However, for a long time yesterday, it looked like he was going to be saddled with the loss, are our offense sputtered in the usual way. Through seven innings, we'd outhit the Marlins 6-4, but they had a 1-0 lead. The closest we'd come was Stinnett trying to score from second on a single hit to Cabrera; after snaring the throw, the Marlins' catcher had time to read a book - hell, write a book - before tagging Stinnett out at home plate.

Moehler was a very hard luck loser, being relieved after 6.2 shutout innings. However De Los Santos and Alfonseca couldn't hold the lead, and we plated three in the eighth, thanks to a pair of homers from Tracy and Glaus, around a single by Gonzalez. Glaus's blast was a monster, estimated at 438 feet. Said Glaus, "It went far enough, that's all that matters. It was a sinker up. I knew it was gone."

Rather less obvious were Tracy's thoughts on his shot, which give an interesting insight into the processes: "He threw me a first pitch kind of a [cut fastball] in - something that I really can't do a whole lot with. Then he made me look stupid on the slider away, and I was thinking he was going to come back with that, so I just choked up about an inch and just tried to get the barrel through it somehow. He threw one up and inner third. The pitch up is the easiest pitch to elevate because it's already elevated for you. I hit it on the barrel and just from the pitch already being up, it had the right trajectory and it went out."

Both Glaus and Tracy had two hits, as did Kelly Stinnett, raising his average to .315 - I think he'll likely get more starts while this keeps up, though I recommend he exercises a little more caution on the basepaths. The phrase "station to station" comes to mind, in fact. On the other hand, Counsell also stole his career-high 18th base of the season: he's had seven in 24 games since the All-Star break - good enough for 5th in the NL - after all but stopping in May + June (one combined).

Thanks to Devin, Stefan, icecoldmo, and andrewinnewyork for stopping by yesterday, in various locations. The latter two are engaging in what I'd like to call a "spirited debate" over the merits of Mike Rizzo, in the diaries. :-)

Heroes and Zeroes, Series 38: vs. Marlins, on road
Webb: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER
Glaus: 4-for-13, 5 of our 8 RBIs
--------------------------------
Halsey: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 6 ER
Worrell: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 R
Terrero: three guesses

All three zeroes comes from Wednesday's loss. It's not like Terrero was the worst player in the series. However, his role in, arguably, the single most-embarrassing moment in franchise history has to be acknowledged. Worrell was, however, equally responsible for the defeat, and Halsey was a shadow of our former self. Webb was excellent yesterday, and Glaus was our main offensive force.

The Sidewinders played what was effectively a double-header in Omaha yesterday, after Tuesday's game was suspended in the second innings, due to rain. They went down 4-3 in the carry-over, which was reduced to seven innings. Jason Bulger surrendered the go-ahead run in the seventh, while Doster and Barden had a pair of hits each, Doster also driving in two.

However, Tucson won the night-cap 5-2, Andy Green having four hits and coming within a home-run of the cycle. Lyon and Villarreal pitched the first two innings, with near-identical lines (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K), before Edgar Gonzalez spun a gem. He allowed two hits over the remaining seven shutout innings, striking out six for the win.

Brandon Lyon is rejoining the team today, and will likely be activated if all goes well - no word yet who'll be sent down, but our informal straw-poll suggests Mike Koplove will be the winner of a Tucson ticket. Villarreal is staying with the Triple-A side for one more rehab outing, but if that goes well, I imagine he'll likely join the team in St. Louis.