Record 69-83. Change on last season: +22
It's clearly getting to the end of the season. Even MLB.com is running out of ideas: their headline for last night's game was "Snakes ride Webb past Dodgers". Which would be okay, if their headline for Tuesday's game wasn't, "Diamondbacks ride Vazquez's gem". Do you think anyone should mention to them that rattlers can't ride?
Well, even I didn't even post any comments for last night's game: thanks to those brave souls who did (Otacon and azdb7). I started the evening off at work, doing a spot of voluntary overtime - actually, more because Chris was working on an event at The Sets, and I figured I might as well pop in, since it's just down the road!
However, right at first pitch, she finished up, so we headed over to The Tilted Kilt (corner of Kyrene + Warner) for dinner and drinks. It's an excellent place, though I'm not sure how "genuine" a Scottish theme is in play. I mean: a) the food was good, and b) while the staff - both male and female - were wearing kilts, the ones on the waitresses were more like tartan belts...
Excellent outing by Webb: 7 2/3 innings, allowing only Choi's two-run homer to score. He scattered nine hits, and struck out a career-high tying eleven, but he was happiest to have allowed no walks: "I've been able to keep [the walks] way down this year. It's been able to let me go deep into games and that's what I'm trying to do." No question it's working: in four starts this month, he's thrown 29 innings and given up only three bases on balls. Only twice this year has he walked more than three in a game, compared to fifteen times in 2004.
He's been particularly brutal on right-handed hitters. Only one of the nine hits yesterday was from a rightie, and he's kept them down to a .230 average. In contrast, lefties hit .303, and it's apparent that the book on Webb involves packing your lineup that way - only seven pitchers in the majors have faced more left-handed hitters this year.
Webb had something of an incentive - he'd left the team over the past few days for the funeral of his grandmother. "I thought about it today," Brandon said. "I really wanted to win one and do it for her." If performances like last night are the result, I suggest executing one of his close family members between every start. Actually, I think this might help Russ Ortiz and his "mindset" more...
Valverde got the last four outs, and is apparently the first-pick to close for Arizona in 2006. Certainly, he's been all but lights-out, with a 1.36 ERA since the start of July. However, we've seen this kind of optimistic initial performance before:
- Greg Aquino - 2004: 16 saves, 3.06 ERA, 2005: 8.48 ERA
- Brandon Lyon - pre-injury: 13 saves, 1.96 ERA, post: 16.00 ERA
- Brian Bruney - four blown saves, 7.43 ERA
Of course, save opportunities aren't necessarily a good thing: we had almost as many last year, when 33 of our 51 wins required saving, as in 2001, when only 34 of 92 needed it. But if you're going to have them, it'd help to have a reliable go-to guy, which we haven't had since Kim in 2002.
This time, we have three different pitchers in double-digits, and the frequency of injuries (both to our closers, and our bullpen in general) over the past few seasons makes me wonder about mishandling. Here are all the men with 5+ saves in a year for AZ:
- 1998: Olson (30), Rodriguez (5)
- 1999: Mantei (22), Olson (14)
- 2000: Mantei (17), Kim (14), Morgan (5)
- 2001: Kim (19), Prinz (9)
- 2002: Kim (36)
- 2003: Mantei (29), Valverde (10)
- 2004: Aquino (16), Valverde (8)
- 2005: Lyon (13), Bruney (12), Valverde (10)
The big blow for our offense last night was Troy Glaus's two-run homer, which levelled the scores in the bottom of the third; he also had another hit, while Clayton added a pair of singles and a stolen base, but we were out-hit 9-6 overall by the Dodgers. It was the walks that proved key: we only had two, but both came around to score. Turned out not to be much of a duel, with Penny having to leave after only 2/3 of an innings.
Less than 20,000 on hand to see it, the lowest BOB crowd since May 9. Though we're not the only team having a down year: the Rockies had a franchise-record low of just 18,119 at Coors Field for today's game against the Padres. That beats the previous record of 18,184 set against us, back in May. Our franchise worst is the 18,742 who saw us play the Rockies on April 11 this year.
But with four games to go, the D'backs should at least crack the two million barrier, albeit maybe not until the penultimate game on Saturday night. Friday is my guess though, depending how many show up for the Fandemonium weekend - and they've been giving away upper-level tickets to that one with recent purchases. Looks like the D'backs are looking to make their money at the concessions on those.