Record: 61-77. Change on last year: +19
You never forget your first time. As expected, we gift-wrapped Cain his first major-league win, managing only three hits and a walk off him in seven innings. We were getting under the ball and popping it up - Cain didn't have a single groundout, as he kept the ball elevated and the Diamondbacks hitters simply couldn't get on top of it.
To his credit, we can't blame Ortiz for yesterday's loss. The words "Russ Ortiz" and "quality start" go together about as well as "Brad Halsey" and "quality at-bat", but no real complaints about yesterday. Pitched into the seventh innings, allowed three runs: that's the first time in three months we've seen a performance from him which comes anywhere close to justifying his salary. And the bullpen was better still, with just one walk over the last 2.2 innings, between Groom, Medders and Valverde.
Of course - of course! - this still wasn't enough to get us the win. Our offense completed a woeful series with a grand total of nine runs, and will soon be appearing on the side of milk cartons. For a long while, it looked like Cain would also get his first shutout, but a leadoff triple by Clark finally presented us with a chance even we couldn't blow. Clark scored our other run with a lead-off homer in the ninth, to bring us within one, but that was it.
At least we had a novel excuse - Chris Snyder couldn't catch a pop-up by Winn behind the plate, because a TV camera got in the way. The rules say they can't be extended into the field of play, but this one somehow was. Of course, Winn then takes his second chance with both hands, and rips what turns to be the game-winning RBI up the middle.
Even the D'backs seem to have given up on the postseason now, though Melvin was obscure, even by his usual standards. And I quote: "Each series goes a long way in where we think we are and what we need to do - either try to stay in this thing and win as many games as possible or try to evaluate some of the younger guys...Where and how many times they start is indicative of how we play."
But a grumpy Tony said, "There's still work that needs to be done. There's still a commitment and a focus that better show up on Tuesday when we're ready to go against Pittsburgh. You want to throw in the towel? Then go home and we'll get somebody else that's willing to work, but I refuse to believe the guys in the clubhouse are going to do so." He then went on to say something about it not being over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor...
Thanks to andrewinnewyork, Devin, Otacon, Englishdback, IndyDBack and azdb7 for turning up - good to see an almost full house, despite the poor performance. From here on though, the word is that the likes of Jackson, Terrero and perhaps Green getting more playing time. I think the official white flag as far as our playoff aspirations go, was the announcement that Dustin Nippert will be starting Thursday's game.
Shawn Estes will then start on Friday, which will make the whole rotation somewhat unfamiliar over the next few days. It would look likely that Halsey is going to be dropped from the rotation entirely. Vazquez starts tomorrow, Webb on Wednesday, then Nippert and Estes. Vargas on Saturday, presumably, with a week's rest.
And I have to cut this short: Labor Day or not, some of us still have to work! At least it's an off-day today, so I'll be back tomorrow with Heroes and Zeroes for the Giants series - hmm, I wonder which way that'll lean? - and no doubt some other stuff, perhaps even the "We Love Chris" advert... ;-)