Record: 2-2. Change on last season: 0
Well, if we're going to choose a night to get totally shutdown, it's probably best it happens when Russ Ortiz is pitching. Unexpectedly though, Ortiz was not the real cause of the defeat, it had more to do with the D'backs managing just two hits. Indeed, with the two sides scoring only four runs between them, this was the lowest-scoring game Ortiz has been involved in, since before coming to Arizona [since a 3-0 loss on September 19, 2004 for Atlanta, to be exact].
Three hits over six innings was not a bad effort from Russ, though the three runs which resulted is a season high for our starters. The four walks which he allowed were definitely still worrysome, but "I felt like I was right around the zone the whole night," Ortiz said. Yeah, right... For it's probably no exaggeration to say that things teetered on the edge of being much worse. Most notably, after Ortiz loaded the bases with one out, only for NL Rookie of the Year favourite [according to Fox Sports], Prince Fielder, to ground harmlessly into a double-play.
Ortiz also picked Fielder off second, which must have been an interesting sight, given neither man is exactly light [Ortiz is listed at 220 lbs, Fielder at 260 - I'm prepared to wager a bagful of donuts that both figures are on the optimistically, Ally McBeal side]. Seeing Fielder trying to dive back into second must have been like watching the Exxon Valdez attempt a handbrake turn. Oh, the huge manatee, shall we say... :-)
But, give Ortiz his credit, while a 4.50 ERA is still not quite getting our $8m worth, it's a damn sight better than his average performance last year. On the other hand, before we start resurrecting his career, it's worth noting that it's disturbingly similar to his first outing in 2005 - and we all know how well that worked out:
2005: 6 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 K, 24 BF, 92 pitches
2006: 6 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 K, 23 BF, 91 pitches
Pitching aside (Aquino and Grimsley threw scoreless frames), a very poor effort from our hitters, who went a mighty 2-for-26 today, with Counsell the only starter not to whiff at least once. Both the hits came in the second inning: Gonzalez gave us the lead with an upper-deck blast, and then after a walk by Estrada, it looked like Byrnes had made it 2-0 with a gapper. However, it bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, stopping Estrada at third. Ortiz fanned, and we didn't manage a single hit during the seven innings after that point.
Yes, our hitters seem to have left their ability circling on a luggage carousel at Milwaukee airport, and they will be happy to forget this one. Generally, it didn't seem a particularly memorable game - apart from Turnbow becoming the first pitcher to save his team's opening four games, since that particular statistic was invented back in the 1960's. He is now on pace to end the year with 162 saves. ;-) Still, this wasn't a game I thought we'd win, so the loss is more of a confirmation of my expectations than anything else.
Should be a different contest tomorr...er, later today, with Brandon Webb on the mound. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we found it hard to score runs ourselves, as we'll be facing a left-handed starter. As before, be interesting to see what lineup Melvin trots out. Preview for that to follow almost immediately, given the early start.