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So, where did it all go wrong?

How did the team which went 30-22 over the first two months suddenly collapse, going 31-55 since? We were on pace for 93 wins at the end of May - now, we'll struggle to reach 70. Here are the month by month splits for Arizona, our opponents, and the difference between us.

         W-L   R/G   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
OVERALL 61-77 4.34 .255 .331 .420 .752 
        77-61 5.53 .284 .349 .466 .815 
             -1.19 -029 -018 -046 -063

APRIL   14-10 4.33 .252 .328 .412 .739 
        10-14 4.67 .268 .336 .416 .753 
             -0.34 -016 -008 -004 -014

MAY     16-12 4.54 .259 .339 .401 .740 
        12-16 5.11 .293 .353 .466 .819 
             -0.60 -034 -014 -065 -079

JUNE     9-19 4.71 .270 .336 .455 .791 
        19-9  6.39 .299 .358 .486 .844 
             -1.68 -029 -022 -031 -053

JULY    13-14 3.96 .255 .336 .418 .754  
        14-13 4.26 .256 .323 .428 .751 
             -0.30 -001 +013 -010 +003

AUGUST   9-19 4.29 .248 .322 .424 .746 
        19-9  7.00 .299 .372 .525 .897  
             -2.71 -051 -040 -101 -151

SEPT.    0-3  3.00 .177 .269 .323 .591 
         3-0  6.00 .257 .333 .448 .781 
             -3.00 -080 -064 -126 -190

Looking at this, it seems pretty clear that our problems have not been with hitting - or, at least, our record seems almost independent of what we do at the plate. Our best month was June, batting a collective .270, with an OPS 37 points higher than any other month, and we converted that into more runs per game too. However, we still went a dismal 9-19.

Conversely, our worst hitting month - July, where we scored less than four runs per game - we still played almost .500 ball overall. But generally our performance with the bat has been consistent enough; with the exception of June, every month we've been at .254, +/- six points, and our OPS has been at .746 +/- eight.

On the other hand, our pitching largely fell apart in June and August, and the results were so obvious as to qualify for an entry in The Tao of Bob: you won't win many games allowing an average of seven runs per game. The correlation isn't direct - our best pitching month was July, and we didn't quite break even - but it seems that if you can keep within a run per game of the opposition, you'll always have a chance. Outside that, things get nasty, very quickly.

One thing that is interesting to note is the unbalanced schedule, which meant we spent most of April and May playing the NL West [32 of 52 games] - this largely stopped after this point [19 games total for Jun-Aug], and I think it's likely no coincidence that this was when we hit the wall. That does bode well for the rest of the way though, 18 of our remaining 24 games being against our division rivals - though that series against San Francisco didn't exactly go as planned, did it?

But generally, having eliminated the hitters from our enquiries (pauses to put deerstalker hat on and puff from pipe), we can now narrow our focus and look at the pitchers. First step will be to look at the bullpen vs. the starters, and see which was responsible for the awful dropoff in our ERA in June and August.

However, that will have to wait for another day, largely because we spend this morning in bed watching BBC America. Coupling and Black Adder to be specific, two object lessons which prove, to my complete satisfaction, that American sit-coms suck in comparison. [I did sit through two episodes of Seinfeld. Once.] As a result, combined with one of those pesky East-coast games, I'll have to get my preview done early. So, moving rapidly on:

Heroes and Zeroes, Series 44: vs. Giants, at home
Cintron: 4-for-10, 4 RBI
Counsell: 1-for-8, 0 BB
Webb: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER
Tracy: 0-for-7, 0 BB

For once, hitters dominate the zeroes, thanks to us batting .177 for the series. As a leadoff-man, Counsell is now a liability: I think he should definitely be "rested" more, with the starts going to Green. Indeed, much of our infield is proving gruesome in one way or another, with Clayton 1-for-10 and Glaus crocking his knee again. Cintron does deserve credit for some solid offense, however. Webb's start was the worst of a mediocre bunch: Lyon and Cormier would also have been nominated, if the games they pitched in had been meaningful.

Preview to follow in short order! Will be around for the game too, so looking forward to it; sure the Diamondbacks performance should take care of that in short order. ;-)