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AZ 2, Brewers 1 - Balks and walks

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Record: 66-80. Change on last season: +21

Finally. That was a bit of a grind, wasn't it? They had the TV tuned in behind the bar at the Tupleo Taproom last night, and I kept half an eye on it during the comedy show as it continued. And continued. And continued. Until Alex Cintron finally ended the Night of the Living Dead (starring both teams' hitters) with a bases-loaded knock in the bottom of the 12th.

At least Webb has no-one but himself to blame for not getting the win, balking in - yes, balking - the tying run with one run in the eighth and runners on the corners. Said Webb, "I just felt like I was going to lose [my grip]. And I couldn't make myself throw it in the ground or try to get it to the plate. I just kind of stopped my delivery... Of all the times for something to happen. That's how it goes. I wasn't meant to win that one. I've done it a few times, but with somebody on third base, that was the first time."

Actually, that's only the third balk of Webb's career. How does that stack up against the other members of the rotation?

  1. Estes: 9 in 1615.2 IP
  2. Webb: 3 in 596.0 IP
  3. Vazquez: 4 in 1620.1 IP
  4. Ortiz: 2 in 1447.2 IP
  5. Vargas: 0 in 346.2 IP

The rest of the way, however, Webb was in top form, with his sinkerball dropping faster than the President's approval rating. Said Damian Miller, "It was just ground ball after ground ball. He didn't miss too many spots," and Melvin concurred: "He's mixing in his breaking ball and his changeup just enough to keep them off the sinker at times. Brandon, when he's got that sinker going like that, he's tough to deal with." 21 of the 24 outs came by groundout or K - Webb's final line was 8 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, taking his ERA down to 3.73.

And given our offense, or lack thereof, we needed all that - plus four scoreless innings from our bullpen, courtesy of Groom, Worrell, Valverde and Medders. Though that was pretty close, especially in the ninth, when Milwaukee loaded the bases with one out, on two walks and a hit off Groom. However, Worrell induced a fly-out to shallow left-center, and the Brewers opted not to challenge Gonzo's arm.

All we could muster in the first eleven innings was Craig Counsell's solo home run, and even that only made it out by about six inches, bouncing off the top of the wall in right field. Overall, we went 8-for-42, but Brandon Webb did get his fifth hit of the season, and wins his bet with Russ Ortiz. Shame Ortiz won't be collecting on any "I'll get ten wins" wager he made this year.

And we did show some patience at the plate, getting eight walks, and forcing the Brewers to throw 16.6 pitches/innings. As a result, this 2-1 game lasted 3:53, turning into an endurance test for the 23,793 in attendance...though from what I could see on TV, that would seem a high-water mark, with probably few more than half that there to the bitter end.

Thanks to Devin, azdb7, andrewinnewyork, Otacon and William K for their comments - and to Devin for informing me, as per yesterday's question, that a "Timber Rattler" is the largest venomous snake in New York. I thought that was Hilary Clinton. [Hey, I'm a strictly, non-partisan politician basher. I'll trash anyone]

And, having floated the idea a couple of days ago, the Republic has now gone full-on for the idea of Luis Gonzalez departing, with a story headlined, Gonzo looks to uncertain future. Says Gonzo, "To me, age doesn't matter. You can run a 40-year-old guy out there and if he's putting up numbers, it doesn't matter. You can run a 22-year-old kid out there with all the potential in the world, and it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to drive in 80 runs and hit .300."

It's pretty clear who he means there. Carlos Quentin, who turned 23 just two weeks ago, and who batted .301 with 89 RBIs for Tucson this season. Luis continues, "Sometimes people have to be careful for what they wish for because instead of getting consistency, you could be getting a guy that might be inconsistent and you really don't know what you have."

Certainly, it's an issue, but if that were a show-stopper, we'd never bring up any new players, save as injury-replacements. We may know what we're getting with Gonzo, but he is not the future of the team. He will not be here in 2007, unless there is a major renegotiation of the contract. It makes sense, on every level, to make 2006 a transition year, and give whoever is planned to take over in RF significant playing time there.

And with that, straight on to the preview for today's game, with its weird, late-afternoon start time.