Record: 54-59. Change on last season: +19
After the first two games of the series, this felt like getting a sympathy kiss from a girl who decided to go out with your best friend instead - better than nothing, but not very much better. Mind you, the alternative was getting swept by the Rockies, then going on the road to face, amongst others, the leaders of the NL's other two divisions... That's probably a shudder going down your spine.
But in line with the Snakepit policy of relentless optimism - which took a hell of a beating on Friday and Saturday, and truth be told, is now more a policy of mild interest - let's accentuate the positive. What about Craig Counsell, eh? 5-for-5, all singles, with three stolen bases? Can't knock that, can you? Well, unless you're the Rockies, who responded to the third steal by trying to decapitate Chad Tracy on the next pitch. There was little doubt in the Diamondbacks' mind that it was no accident:
Luis Gonzalez, on-deck: "I just saw something in their dugout that they thought nobody else saw...The next pitch went over Tracy's head and I took it upon myself to go out and yell at those guys. The coaches over there played in the Major Leagues so you would think they knew better."
Counsell: "I think they clearly took exception. "They threw at him. We don't agree...If they want us to quit at 6-0, we should have just stopped the game."
Bob Melvin: "We felt like he was throwing right at him and it looked like it went right over the top of his head and we felt like we heard something come out of the dugout."
And the Rockies' denial seems about as credible as Rafael Palmeiro's:
Clint Hurdle, Rockies manager: "Any time the ball comes out of the pitcher's hand and gets up around the hitter's head, it's going to draw attention and heighten reaction, there's no doubt about that... Whatever happens after that, that's where the umpires' jurisdiction falls, so let them make their decisions and we go play."
Meanwhile, the victim himself said he didn't mind so much getting thrown at, but would rather it didn't involve his head... It probably didn't help that Counsell was not exactly being subtle about his thievery either: on his previous two steals, he went on the first pitch, and did so again the third time he reached, but Tracy rendered it moot by homering to right. However, I note that when Counsell singled to lead off the eighth - after Tracy was head-hunted - he did not go anywhere.
All in all, a good day for the top third of our order (Counsell, Tracy, Gonzalez) against Wright:
- 1st time up: single, HBP, double
- 2nd time up: single, fly-out, homer
- 3rd time up: single, homer, ground-out
- 4th time up: single, K
He left with the score 6-0, and #1-3 having both scored and driven in all six runs, going 7-for-10 with two homers. The rest of the the lineup against Wright? 2-for-16.
The Rockies mounted a comeback in the seventh against a suddenly-drooping Vargas, who retired 18 in a row, but then allowed a three-run shot to Piedra. It wasn't like he was tired - it only took him 84 pitches through seven innings - and it was still a very solid outing. Worrell allowed another run in the eighth, but Valverde pitched a hitless ninth, impressing once again.
Once Wright departed, Clark and Glaus also cracked home-runs, giving us four for the day for the second straight game. Outside of Counsell, Green and Gonzo had a pair of hits each, and every starter bar Vargas had a hit, though a K/BB ratio of 11:2 isn't very impressive.
Thanks to Devin, frienetic and Englishdback for their comments on the game. Despite my prediction, the Padres did indeed sweep the slumping Nationals, so they now stand three games ahead of us, and have definitely got the schedule advantage over the next week or two. The way I figure it, if the next time the Diamondbacks see BOB, we're still three games back, that will be a monumental achievement. I think it's more likely to be 6-7 games, with our playoff aspirations clinging by a thread.
Heroes and Zeroes, Series 36: vs. Rockies, at home
Counsell: 6-for-9, 4 runs, 3 SB
Webb: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 ER
Gonzalez: 5-for-14, 5 RBI
Green: 2-for-12, picked off first
Groom: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 ER
Gosling: 3 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 4 ER
What the heck, let's praise Craig "5-for-5" Counsell: he's had a bad couple of months (it's more hits than he managed in total between July 4-16!) but five hits in a game is a great achievement. Webb's performance in the opener deserved better from our bullpen and offense, while Gonzo was the only man to have a hit in every game of the series.
Then there's Green, who clearly forgot what you do when you reach first - y'know, like staying close to it? Maybe he just got carried away by Counsell, and did swipe a bag later on. Groom's performances so far have shown that his failure to get a chance in New York may have been his own fault, while Gosling's implosion proved nasty, if not wholly unexpected.
Quick pointer to a very interesting article on how the D'backs transition continues over at MLB.com, explaining why Moorad wasn't at Garagiola's send-off yesterday, and peering into the future status of the team.
Not a good result for Tucson in the finale of their series in Iowa, going down 6-2. Chris Michalak - who's been in the minor leagues since 1993, without ever making it to the show - allowed a three-run homer in the first, and five runs over six innings. We scored two runs in the fourth, both coming on a single by Josh Kroeger. De Renne and Cota both had a pair of hits, but we could only manage seven singles all night.
No game for the Diamondbacks today, so attention will be (loosely) focused on Omaha, where Russ Ortiz makes what may be his final rehab start for the Sidewinders. If it goes well - and your guess is as good as mine as to what that means - he would likely slot back into the rotation on Saturday, replacing Mike Gosling. If you find yourself cheering for the Omaha hitters tonight, hoping to delay the inevitable, you might not be the only one. :-)