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AZ 4, Rockies 6 - Broken(-Bat) Dreams

Record: 53-58. Change on last season: +18

Ah, the schizophrenia of fantasy baseball. I snagged Matt Holliday off the waiver wire for my team earlier in the week: I'm not sure if this makes his swatting a broken-bat homer to tie things up in the eighth innings, better or worse. There's no doubt the home-run and two RBIs he scored for me helped numb the pain. But only slightly...

Otacon summed it up very nicely: "If we don't sweep the Rockies, we don't deserve to win the NL West. It's as simple as that." It is, indeed. But instead, two errors and three wild pitches helped condemn us to defeat, and another game is lost ground on the Padres - who suddenly seem to have realised that winning requires you to score more runs than the opposition.

Truth is, however, this one was lost some way before Cormier's errant throw in the ninth innings allowed the Rockies to score the go-ahead run. It was probably lost when we managed only four hits and one run off six innings from a pitcher who is, literally, a rib short of a full rack. [I kid you not: last September, surgeons removed one, in order to relieve pressure on a vein in his pitching shoulder. No word on whether they turned said rib into Shakira. ;-)]

Probably the best thing to come from the game was seeing Webb back to his old self, striking out ten over seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. Said Webb, "My arm felt really alive and the ball felt great coming out. I was able to locate my pitches whenever I wanted." Well, almost whenever - his second wild pitch let the Rockies take the lead in the top of the seventh innings, and his other one moved Quintanilla to second, from where he scored on a sacrifice and a groundout.

However, we finally broke through ourselves in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs, first on Tracy's 16th homer of the year to tie it, and then a triple from Royce Clayton, after they intentionally walked Counsell to get to him. I guess the Rockies haven't been paying attention to the pair's recent performances, or they'd have been more than happy to pitch to Counsell.

But then it was Colorado's turn to level the scores on Holliday's two-run shot off Aquino. The hitter was left holding about six inches of shattered wood, while the rest headed into foul territory - and the ball ended up flying 426 feet into the bleachers. I suppose if a baseball bat is going to die, I imagine that's likely the way it wants to go...

Thanks to andrewinnewyork, Otacon, Devin, Enoch and frienetic for stopping by - with the big news in the comments that Tony Clark has been signed to a two-year contract extension. The financial terms have not been revealed, but it's rumoured to be around the $2m mark - Clark does get a full no-trade clause for the first year and a half. Opinion on this appears mixed, but I've stuck up a diary and a poll for comments.

Two hits for Tracy, but not much else to speak of, and this was another game that the bullpen let get away from us, allowing two runs in the eighth (one each to Groom and Aquino) and two more in the ninth, both charged to Cormier. He's no longer even in the Top 20 rookie pitchers as measured by VORP and, by the same measure, has been overtaken by Valverde as our best reliever.

It's all somewhat worrying; he may end up sent down to Tucson when Lyon and/or Villarreal return. It appears that Bob Melvin is looking for Villarreal to turn in some consistent performances before he gets the call - one can only hope he requests the same from Ortiz.

Speaking of Tucson, with William K away on business (meaning BB:TNG is on hiatus), I should mention that our AAA team lost their sixth in a row last night, 4-3 in Iowa - clearly, no Field of Dreams there. Vladimir Nunez allowed a homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and took the loss.

Edgar Gonzalez got the start, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks over 6.2 innings, and helped himself with an RBI single. Cota had two hits, while Andy Green and Neb Brown drove in the Sidewinder's other runs, as our record fell to 56-56.

However, better news today, as we've already played, and rolled to a 6-3 win in ten innings. Villarreal got the start, but only pitched one (perfect) innings. Cannon allowed three runs in 5.1 innings, and the first Iowa hit didn't come until the sixth innings. By that point, Kroeger had hit a two-run homer (his 13th) to give Tucson the lead; Iowa then rallied, and we had to use Brito's sac-fly to tie the game at three in the ninth.

Brian Barden drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth, which made a winner of Jason Bulger, who pitched a perfect ninth. Cota singled in two runs to add some insurance, but Choate loaded them up in the bottom, putting the tying run on base, before Ligtenberg fanned the final Iowa hitter for the save. Ten different players had our ten hits.

To no-one's great surprise, Stephen Drew has been named as the Diamondbacks' Minor-League Player of the Month for July. Drew hit .393 for the month, and was promoted on the last day from Lancaster to Tennessee - where he has so far gone 4-for-14 with 3 RBIs in four games. Pitcher of the Month also came from Lancaster: Matt Chico, who went 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts, holding opponents to a .210 average.