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AZ 4, Dodgers 1 - The Longest First

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Record 68-83. Change on last season: +21.

After a series of disappointing outings, Vazquez finally provided evidence of why we signed him, with a very impressive performance. He gave up only four hits over 7 2/3 innings, fanning seven and allowing only Jeff Kent's homer (Vazquez's fifth game in a row allowing a round-tripper). That's a game score of 73, not bettered since July 24: he hit 96 mph on the radar gun, and had all his pitches working. Said Stinnett, "I really like his curveball. I like to show it early and if you get that in the back of the hitter's mind, it keeps them off his fastball."

Meanwhile, the aforementioned trio of Tracy, Clark and Cintron continued their hot streak with three of our four RBIs. The key hit was Alex's two-out, two-RBI single in the first, right when it looked as if we were going to squander a bases-loaded, no-outs opportunity. Cintron thought so too: "It was going to be, 'Here we go again, bases loaded and we only score one.' I was just trying to put the ball in play."

We chased Derek Lowe early: he only got through three innings, but that took over 90 pitches, largely because every one of the first twelve hitters we sent up there went to a two-strike count before reaching or making an out. The first inning went as follows:

  • Counsell: Strike looking, Strike looking, single
  • Tracy: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, single
  • Gonzalez: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, walk
  • Clark: Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, sac. fly
  • Glaus: Ball, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, walk
  • Green: Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, line-out
  • Cintron: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, single
  • Stinnett Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike-out swinging

Lowe clearly wasn't fooling anyone: 50 pitches, five swinging strikes - none in a 13-pitch at-bat from Shawn Green, that included fouling off seven consecutive pitches on a full count. Normally, a bases-loaded, one-out line to the second baseman would cause gnashing of teeth, but this epic battle was akin to Spartacus - almost as long, but without the home-erotic subtext [Er, as far as I can tell] - and Green just missed a grand-slam, before finally going down.

Two hits for Tracy, taking his average past the .300 mark; two also for Glaus and Counsell. After Vazquez left, Worrell got the final out of the eighth, before Valverde has a largely-untroubled ninth, for his ninth save of the season. So Javy picked up the win, and avoided joining the elite ranks of sixteen-game losers (Greinke and Lima of KC, Wells of Pittsburgh, and Wright of Colorado).

Rumblings regarding the future from a couple of places. Vazquez will wait until the offseason before deciding whether or not to demand a trade. "I'll sit with my family and see what we want to do." The Diamondbacks are probably fairly equivocal regarding this: it could be good, it could be bad.

It's safe to say Vazquez hasn't been the hoped-for ace in the rotation, simply because of his lack of consistency. However, in a weak free-agent market for starting pitching, he could well be a tempting carrot to dangle in front of another team who feel they are just a little short. East coast near-contentders such as the Mets, Phillies and Marlins might all be interested.

But one person who is keen to come back is Royce Clayton, described in today's Banana, which describes him as 'absolutely' eager to return. My guess is it would probably seem likely, much as I'd prefer a middle-infield of Counsell (signed for 2006), Cintron and Green.

Truth is, there aren't many other options for next season. Here are all the SS free-agents - good, bad or indifferent:

  • Rey Ordonez, Ricky Gutierrez, Jose Vizcaino, Chris Woodward, Desi Relaford, Alex Gonzalez (FLA), Nomar Garciaparra, Deivi Cruz, Jose Hernandez, Jose Valentin, Luis Lopez, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez (TB), Rafael Furcal, Benji Gil, Lou Merloni, Rich Aurilia, Rey Sanchez, Neifi Perez

Once you get past Nomar and Rafael, not exactly an inspiring selection.

Finally, random stuff on a couple of former D'backs. Didn't realise Karim Garcia - best known as the guy we traded for Luis Gonzalez + cash - is now playing in Japan, for the Orix Buffaloes; last month, he set a new record by hitting three home runs in two consecutive games. [While looking up info I found this page, celebrating one of Garcia's less, ah, salubrious moments.] Meanwhile, on a slightly less pleasant note for the party concerned, Andrew Good cleared waivers with Detroit, and has been sent to Triple-A Tupelo.