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AZ 4, Dodgers 6 - Oh, the huge manatee...

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Record: 8-11. Change on last season: -3

1.2 IP, 4 H. 5 BB, 4 ER, 2 K

My dislike of Russ Ortiz is gradually festering its way into something more malevolent. Mediocrity, even at $8m/year, I could live with, as long as it was the quiet kind, that you barely notice. However, Ortiz does not just suck: he sucks in the most flamboyant manner possible. "Hello!" his performances shout. "Look at me! I'm dreadful at my job! I get paid truckloads of cash! And, hahaha - you can't get rid of me until the end of 2008!"

The decline is his starts has been obvious. Six innings; one out in the fifth; one out in the third; and today, he doesn't even escape the second inning. Last year, he may have blown chunks, but at least he was usually good for four or five mediocre frames. Not any longer. This was his shortest start since a 1.1 inning start against the Brewers on May 15, 2004, in which he allowed three hits, seven walks and - is there an echo? - four earned runs. [Oddly, Juan Cruz pitched two innings in relief that day too.]

Even Ortiz, whose post-game comments normally prove that "denial" is just a river in Egypt, was unusually morose. "It was one of those days when you just have to say you didn't have it," he said. Melvin, ominously, warned that all options would be considered and discussions would occur: "We'll consider a lot of things, and in the next day or so, we'll have a better idea." You can bet, if there's a way to get out of the almost three seasons left on his contract, we'll be trying it.

Your daily dose of yummy Fangraphs goodness
Today: Scaling the Ortiz Plateau

There was an article in the Banana yesterday about the declining attendance at Chase Field. The headline is "D-Backs Must Make It Fun". But how much "fun" can it be, when one of the three best-paid players on your team is so awful, that his starts have all the popular appeal of kiddie porn? Seven straight batters reached safely against him in the first: if Drew hadn't wandered off the bag, the Dodgers might still be batting.

However, in the first couple of innings, Tomko proved almost equally as appalling. Only our inability to get hits with runners in scoring position stopped us from putting up more than the one run we did - and that was on a Saenz error. A second Dodger error helped gift us another run in the second inning, and though Ortiz didn't make it out of the bottom half, we were still in this, at 4-2 - albeit with our bullpen looking forward to another lengthy afternoon.

The big difference was that, unlike Ortiz, Tomko stuck around. He ended up allowing only those two runs over six innings - after Hudson's RBI double, just two of the next 15 hitters reached safely. And one of those (Hudson again - the only man to get two hits this afternoon), was erased on batter's interference, as Navarro's throw glanced off Tracy's bat when O-Dawg tried to steal second.

It was that kind of afternoon: the further Tomko pitched into the game, the more my enthusiasm evaporated. The Dodgers added a couple of runs, and they proved necessary, as we staged one of our patented heroic (but doomed to failure) comebacks. Clark doubled off the outfield wall, when a few more feet of height would have tied the game at six, but that was as close as we came. Instead, a fifth straight series slid away from us without a win...

Heroes and Villains
Series 6: vs. Dodgers, on road

Tracy: 6-for-13, 3 doubles
Lyon: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Valverde: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K, save
---------------------------------
Aquino: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER
Green: 2-for-11, 0 RBI
Ortiz: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 4 ER

Not a great series for most of our players, but Chad Tracy continued to breakout, with a four-hit game on Saturday. Valverde and Lyon also shined in that contest - it seems unfair to give Valverde only the credit for the save, when Lyon's eighth-inning heroics were equally as vital. Vizcaino, Grimsley and Hudson merit honorary mentions with decent performances.

Aquino blew up in the opener, and Shawn Green returned to his old stomping-ground, but did not hit anything like he used to when he played for the Dodgers. Green is a woeful 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position so far. He's on pace for nineteen RBIs this season. However, there was no question who the zero for this series was going to be, from the first inning he played today. Step up, Russ Ortiz, with another wholly inadequate performance. For which he was paid around a quarter of a million dollars. Pardon me while I go find a puppy to kick...