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AZ 3, Dodgers 2 - Highs and lows

Record: 75-84. Change on last season: +26

Whatever the reason, we really seem to have had the Dodgers' number this year: we take the season series 13-5, and even more remarkably, the road games by a margin of 8-1. Last night finished off our second sweep in a row there, with Nippert getting the win, though for the second time this series, he left while in line for a loss.

He was pulled in the sixth for a pinch-hitter, and McCracken got a single - think that leaves him one short of the club record for pinch-hits in a year. He was doubled-home by Gonzalez, who later came home on a sac fly by Cintron to give us the lead. We tacked an extra one on in the eighth, when Terrero was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

And we needed that - with Valverde finally getting the day off, we turned to Lyon in the ninth with a 3-1 lead, but he allowed a home run to (former, albeit very temporary) Diamondback Dioner Navarro - acquired from New York in the Big Unit deal, then immediately shipped to LA for Shawn Green. However, Lyon did hold on, getting the remaining two outs for his first save since May 11.

But a side-thought, given our woeful production from the catcher's position - 27th in the majors by OPS, 29th by BA, dead last in RBIs. What if we'd held on to Navarro? No Shawn Green, but 22 homer, .288 hitting outfielders are a lot more common than catchers with the offensive potential of Navarro. On Dodger Thoughts, Jon says, "One calendar year after Lo Duca was traded, the Dodgers may have a better catcher at about 5 percent of the cost." And he could have been ours. [Speaking of Green, he hasn't had an RBI since September 10th, and has a whopping three for the month, in 85 at-bats.]

Nippert only allowed one hit through the five innings he pitched - a double which drove in a run to give the Dodgers their lead - and struck out six in five innings. He did, however, also walk five hitters: "I was just trying to make the perfect pitch when I didn't have to," he said, but though he had the best 'stuff' of his three starts. He ends the year with the following line, which starts credibly enough:
14.2 IP, 10 H, 11 K...
before then descending sharply towards the end:
...13 BB, 9 ER, 5.52 ERA
But if he can stop those walks next spring training? The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation could become a real dogfight between Nippert, Halsey and Vargas.

Two hits for Clayton, and two more for Tracy, who is now at .310 for the year. That's eleventh-best in the majors, and only five men with higher averages, also have more home-runs (Lee, Pujols, Cabrera, A-Rod and Vlad). Tracy can relax, save in the knowledge that he can go 0-for-15 this weekend, and still have a .300 season. Unsurprisingly, Chad finds himself included in the:

Heroes and Villains, Series 50: vs. Dodgers, on road
Webb: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 ER
Tracy: 6-for-13, 4 RBI
Valverde: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 2 saves
Counsell, 0-for-7, GIDP

Given there were only a total of 14 runs from by both sides in this series (we outscored LA 9-5), pitchers dominated. Webb's performance was excellent, and going by GameScore, he saved his best of the season for last. [By this measure, the two best starts of the year for Arizona, however, both go to Vazquez: his three-hitter against St. Louis in July was passed only by his five-hit complete game shutout of Detroit in May]

Valverde recorded two tough saves without allowing a baserunner; however, credit to all in the bullpen for their performance this series: 10.2 innings, only one run allowed. Tracy splits them, with another great series. Not much to complain about when you sweep the opposition on the road, but Counsell did nothing he'll want to remember this series. Indeed, batting .186 for September, make that the entire month.

Thanks to William K for his sterling ongoing work in the game - and also to Devin and icecoldmo - while I laughed heartily at Henry Rollins (the best mental image conjured up was something being as pleasant as getting covered in olive oil, then going down a water-slide filled with puppies...). Things might be a little less vacant from me tonight: no promises though, as it depends on the W*rk Thing.

Interesting thoughts from icecoldmo on the future prospects - or lack thereof - of Cintron. I think once word gets properly spread about his willingness to hack at anything in the same zipcode, his decent enough .277 average will rapidly head south. I'd like to see Andy Green get a proper shot as a starter next year; I'm fairly sure he'd do as well as Cintron or Clayton given a chance every day.

And that might be it for Clark for the year, as his knees have taken a battering in the past week or two: sliding in foul ground, fouling pitches off his legs, or diving to stop wild throws. Jackson got the start at first yesterday (though went 0-for-3 with five men left on base), and may well be there for the Giants series too.