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Heroes and Zeroes

Series 5: vs. Giants, at home

Gonzalez: 7-for-14, 2 HR, 9 RBI
DaVanon: 8-for-14, 5 RBI
Tracy: 7-for-16, 4 RBI
Valverde: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, Loss
Medders: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, Loss
Vargas: 2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 6 ER

An interesting split: it may be the first time all the Heroes have been hitters, while all the Zeroes have been pitchers. Although Grimsley was a candidate in the former, the solid offense proved impossible to ignore. Even setting aside his 500th double, Gonzalez had an excellent series, with the go-ahead homer in Monday night's game, a moment that may be hard to beat over the rest of the year. DaVanon forced himself into the starting lineup, and will get more starts while he maintains this level of performance; it's also great to see Tracy swinging the bat well again.

Dishonourable mentions in the Zeroes category, go to Cruz and Batista, who posted double-digit ERAs for the series. But when your starters pitch less in any series than your relievers (17.2 innings vs. 18.1), there's always going to be trouble. Valverde blew his first save in a long time, and Medders similarly handed over the game last night. Though you could certainly argue that they were dumped in unenviable positions by our starters, especially Vargas, who was truly wretched.

Since I'm here, Justin Upton makes his first "official" start as a professional tonight for Class-A South Bend - the spring training games apparently don't count. takes an interesting look at the debuts of other #1 picks. No batter seems to have made an immediate unforgettable splash: two hits is the most, with Josh Hamilton's homer and 3 RBIs in 1999 perhaps the best [though two doubles went to a guy called "A.Rodriguez" in 1993, off some starter called "B.Wagner"...].

Pitchers have done better: our future franchise first starter, Andy Benes, fanned ten over seven innings at Double-A in 1989, and Kris Benson matched that K total in six frames at Class-A Lynchburg in 1996. However, perhaps the most amazing example was that of 18-year old David Clyde, who bypassed the minors entirely, going straight from high school to the big leagues. He struck out eight to win his debut - albeit with seven walks. What the story doesn't note is that Clyde won only seventeen games thereafter, and was out of the majors before turning 25. Fingers crossed that Upton's fate is better.

Our D'backs make the short trip to LA for a series against the Dodgers, who have not yet been the force this season I thought they could be. Injuries (such as to No-mah and Eric G) have given them their fare share of problems, and their 7-9 start is exactly the same as Arizona's. However, regardless of what happens, we won't be catching up on our 2005 pace anytime soon. While we may be just one behind after 16 games, last year's team was about to reel off six wins in a row...sweeping the Padres, and also the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. An omen? We can but hope. Preview of tonight's game to come.