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AZ 6, Reds 13 - Wij verloren. Ons bullpen gezogen

Record: 58-67. Change on last year: +20

As promised, a new way to say, "We lost. Our bullpen sucked." I'm afraid Babelfish doesn't actually have Serbo-Croat - the above is Dutch. I was going to do Russian, which looked cooler, but the blogging software barfed at Cyrillic characters.

To reiterate what was muttered darkly in the comments, Sunday mornings and baseball don't seem to mix - that's two weeks in a row I've woken, just in time to see our starter cough up a size seven hairball in an innings. "I felt like I lost a little bit of command that inning, and I still felt like I was able to get ahead of the guys, but I wasn't making good pitches with two strikes and paid for it," said Halsey.

That brought his day to a screeching halt, but the Reds were teeing off pretty much on everyone we put out there, hitting six round-trippers, scoring all thirteen of their runs. After Halsey's abrupt departure, Medders and Groom stabilized things for the next couple of innings, and we began to claw our way back. Arizona cut the lead to three thanks to two RBIs by Clark (who had three hits, as did Counsell, on his 35th birthday), and one each for Glaus and Terrero.

But a two-run homer off Aquino got Melvin his fourth ejection, arguing (wrongly) that the ball hit the top of the wall, rather a fan in the front row. This restored the Reds margin for error: good thing too, for them: we scored two more ourselves in the eighth, on a pinch-hit homer by Cintron, to give us hope once again.

However, not for long. Lyon continues to look very wobbly - his velocity still seems some way short of what it was before his injury - and he gave up four hits, including the last two homers. Hard to say whether this made Cincinnatti's final margin of victory look bloated, or was simply a moderately accurate reflection of things over the weekend. Thanks to Devin and icecoldmo for being brave enough to turn up, albeit briefly and after the event, respectively! :-)

All told, the Reds outscored us 32-15 over the series, and you won't win many playoff berths allowing almost 11 runs per game. Or, indeed, almost 11 runs in an innings. Which brings us, perhaps unsurprisingly, to:

Heroes and Zeroes, Series 40: vs. Reds, on road
Vazquez: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 ER
Counsell: 7-for-14, 2 SB
Clark: 5-for-11, 5 RBI, GIDP
Halsey: 4 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 7 ER
Bruney: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 ER
Ortiz: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 6 ER

Unsurprising, given the above stat, that our pitchers dominate the zeroes - Gonzo's 1-for-10 doesn't even register, in comparison to the awful performances delivered this series. Halsey fell apart in a single innings, Bruney didn't even take that long, while Ortiz would probably be able to get through waivers the way he's pitching. I sense an "injury" on the way, perhaps.

But it wasn't all bad: Vazquez showed a return to form: we'll need him and Webb to be genuine #1 and #2 guys down the stretch if we're to get anywhere. Counsell celebrated his 35th birthday weekend with a grand series, while Tony Clark continues to defy all expectation and just keep on hitting.

So much for another definitive, make-or-break series of games. We did got 4-8, exactly as predicted [pause to toot own trumpet!], but the failure of San Diego to do anything much means we come home only one game further off the pace than when we left. "At some point...playing a little more consistently on both sides of the ball - pitching and offense - is going to determine where we go. So we haven't seen anything really on this trip that suggests we're going one way or another."

Indeed. We still remain more or less on track for the expected number of wins. But who forecast that the rest of the NL West would exhibit such solidarity and play down to our level? Here's where our record would put us in all the divisions:

  • NL West: 2nd, 4 games back
  • NL Central: 5th, 20.5 GB
  • NL East: last, 12.5 GB
  • AL West: 3rd, 13.5 GB
  • AL Central: 5th, 19 GB
  • AL East: 5th, 14.5 GB

In any other division, we'd be an average of sixteen games behind the leader. And that's not counting the fact that we'd be playing better teams more frequently.

But, hey, you play the cards how they're dealt, and a pair of twos can be enough to win the biggest poker pot, if everyone else has got nothin'. We survived the road trip, and come back to BOB, where we're about due a change of fortune. So why should we not win the division? Er...don't answer that. Better just to bask in the knowledge that only two of the 24 non-first place teams are closer to their division leaders than the Diamondbacks.