Record: 12-13. Change on last season: -3
Yawn. Another fifth day, another quality start by Brandon Webb. Eight innings, five hits and two runs with only one walk - no prizes for guessing who that went to, but Webb also fanned Bonds in the first with two men out. Oh, plus he got a hit, and in another at-bat drove in a run with a sacrifice fly...once more tying Shawn Green in RBIs, with three. MVP! MVP! :-)
That was despite some early struggles, where it seemed home-plate umpire Ramon Armendariz's was inconsistent, to say the least. A pitch well outside to Hudson was called a strike, then the same one to Bonds was a ball - but he still rang Bonds up, saying he'd gone around on strike three. To add insult to injury, Frandsen (out on a double play yesterday after failing to run out a pop-up) was thrown out on the same play, apparently assuming it was ball four and he could jog to third. Another chewing from Alou for the rookie beckons...
After that, Webb settled down as usual, allowing just the walk to Bonds until the seventh inning. Meanwhile, Estrada was single-handedly providing all the offense necessary. He had a two-run homer in the second, then a run-scoring single in the fourth, and another in the sixth, to give us a 4-0 lead. Tracy added a two-run double in the eighth, while Shawn Green had a pair of hits - inevitably, not with runners in scoring position. But complaining would be churlish, given what was generally an all-round solid performance by Arizona.
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Today: Spinning a Webb
Thanks to VIII, Devin, azdb7, npineda and an Anonymous Hero for the contributions during this afternoon's contest which meant the road-trip, overall, was successful by a margin of 5-4. Admittedly, I'd rather have won two series, rather than the bulk of the victories coming in a three-game sweep of the Padres; however, all wins are equal in the standings.
Although not, perhaps, all losses. Specifically, it'll be interesting to see how today's result affects the Dodgers: five runs up in the ninth, on the verge of sweeping San Diego, they somehow contrived to blow the game. [The Padres' ninth-inning rally equalled their run total from the previous five games combined]. Will this carry forward into a nervous fragility for the LA bullpen over the next couple of days when they play us? We can only hope.
Heroes and Villains
Series 8: on road, vs Giants
Webb: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 ER
Estrada: 5-for-7, 5 RBI
Cruz: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 ER
Aquino: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 ER
Batista: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 6 ER
Pitching represented both ends of the spectrum in this series. Webb's continuing dominance (is there any doubt he'll be at the All-Star Game if he keeps this up?) won us the final game, but Estrada showed more pop than expected. He and Snyder combined are now batting .300, with 22 RBIs in only 90 at-bats. Cruz's outing was perhaps the brightest spot of the entire series; let's just hope he can maintain that level of effectiveness.
On the down side, Aquino's weakness in the bullpen was disappointing, though not as much as the latest in Batista's ongoing series of Incredible Shrinking Outings. Medders is also yet to prove himself as effective as we'd hoped: two innings with no earned runs this series may sound good, but allowing four hits and a walk is very dangerous. Hudson had a poor series, and I can't say I've been impressed by him in the #2 spot where, in 11 games, his OBP is only .255. Contrast DaVanon, whose OBP is a stunning .538, albeit in only six games.
And just a sidenote here, to applaud Tracy for his sterling play at third-base this year, which has surpassed all expectation. Don't forget, in 2004 he set a franchise record for gaffes there - but this season? After 209.1 innings, he has not committed a single error. Only one other player with more than 100 innings at the position can say that. [Ramirez of the Cubs] Now, errors aren't everything, of course, but it's still pretty clear that Tracy's defense - and his throwing in particular - is greatly improved.
Actually, generally our hands have been pretty safe. Through 25 games, we've made just 11 errors - only the Cubs (ten) have less, and Batista is the only player with more than one. On the other hand, our Defensive Efficiency Rating (basically, the percentage of balls in play we convert into outs) is lower than average, at .700. Here are the NL Rankings. Seeing Shawn Green stumble around right field today, it's easy to work out why...
So it's back home to Chase, where our performances have been somewhat disappointing so far. But the Dodgers are coming off that dispiriting collapse in San Diego, and the Cubs just got spanked over the weekend by Milwaukee, 16-2 and 9-0. Mind you, they've got two games against Pittsburgh, the team with the worst record in the National League, before getting here, so that should cheer them up.