Record: 5-6. Change on last season: -1
If ever there was a good game to miss entirely, it was last night. I was out, drinking, being roasted by comedians (as well as roasting them back), and enjoying a kickass concert by Arizona's finest, The Strand. Baseball wasn't even on the radar, until I was just about to leave, when I saw the final score on a ticker at the bottom of one of the screens at Big Daddy's North.
It's probably for the best. This was the first true kicking of the year - indeed, the first defeat by more than two runs - and so probably just too much for a fragile April fan psyche to stand. There wasn't much positive to be taken away from it: it's not as if we could say, "Well, we pitched well, we just didn't hit," or even point to a single play on which the outcome turned. No, this was simply an old-fashioned whipping: a less politically-correct writer than I, would make some joke about it being appropriate for Jackie Robinson Day, but I'll pass. ;-)
We managed only two hits off the Astros. Or maybe three. There seems some confusion: most of the published reports say "two", but the online boxscores credit Easley with an extra triple - possibly the result of a late scoring change? But it's strange: even the official MLB version gives us two hits in the line, but three in the box. Two, three, whatever: the basic answer was "not nearly enough."
I think the Houston pitcher needed to be renamed 'Magic' Wandy, because he certainly weaved a spell over the D'backs lineup. As Crawfish Boxes pointed out - with pleasantly little gloat! - the Game Score of 78 made it the second best of the year in the NL to date. We didn't get a hit until Damion Easley's double off the wall with two outs in the fifth, and by that stage, we were already in a 7-0 hole, and only managed one other hit (a double by Byrnes) while Rodriguez was in the game.
Meanwhile, the wheels fell off Claudio Vargas's season in spectacular fashion after his shutout debut. While our other starters experienced dropoffs of various size in their second outings, Vargas plummeted into the Grand Canyon. He allowed eight hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings, leading to five earned runs. Afterwards, it seems he was possessed by the spirit of Russ Ortiz, going by his quote: "I kept pitching my game. I think they were hitting good pitches. There is nothing I can do but keep pitching."
We can't even take solace in a good bullpen outing, for after Vargas left, the hits - and Astros runs - just kept on coming. Making his first appearance in the big leagues in almost two years, Casey Daigle showed much the same form that got him a 7.16 ERA over ten starts in 2004: 2.2 innings, four hits, two earned runs. Jason Grimsley followed up with another outing that suggests he likes Tucson food: two innings, two earned runs. And Greg Aquino allowed his first run of the year, pitching in the ninth.
About the only decent thing to come out of yesterday, was the announcement by Bud Selig that Arizona will get an All-Star game at some point. However, the utter vagueness of this promise - 20 years? 50? Sometime in the next century? - makes it entirely meaningless. On a side-light, the Astros are apparently pissed with Valverde's antics on the mound. I didn't see Friday's game, so don't quite know what the fuss is about. Was he leading the crowd in doing the wave after each strikeout? The Astros resolved the issue, by not letting him pitch the rest of the series. :-(
mlb.com D'backs correspondent, Steve Gilbert, has his own blog. Be interesting to see how far from the party line he can stray: in his initial entry, he says, "maybe sometimes what we in the media think fans want to read isn't really what you want." Certainly, that's part of why blogs, fan forums, etc. are popular; if the mainstream media was perfect, would I be blogging? Generally, I think many fans feel the press gives baseball too easy a ride: it's understandable, because if you cause trouble, your access privileges would be revoked, but it's annoying, none the less. Welcome to the D'backs blog army, Steve: you're added to our links.
And, with barely a pause for breath, on to today's game, the Heroes and Villains for the series, and whatever other chocolatey goodness I can find for Easter Sunday!