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AZ 7, Pirates 4 - Stranded, but happy.

Record: 19-15. Change on last season: 0

With the rain descending steadily in Pittsburgh this afternoon, there was little chance, right from the get-go, that today's game would make it through alive. And so it proved, with the game being called relatively early - just before 11 am - since both teams had places to be. It's been rescheduled for June 19th, formerly an off-day, which we'll slot in between series in Tampa and Texas. Makes for a bit of a gruelling trip.

I imagine everyone in the rotation will simply drop back one, so that we have Cruz, Vargas and...ugh, Hernandez facing the Cardinals. That now pits Cruz against Mulder for the opener, in what looks like the decisive game of the series. Vargas against Marquis would seem to give Arizona the edge, while the finale inclines sharply to the opposition, since it pits Hernandez against [insert any pitcher with a pulse here]. Actually, it's merely reigning Cy Young holder, Chris Carpenter, so using Hernandez as a sacrificial lamb for the occasion on that day might work in our favour.

Does give me a little more time to look at last night's game, where Webb had perhaps his least effective outing of the season, but still came away with a win. He barely scraped together a quality start, pitching the minimum (six innings, tying his shortest of the year) and allowing the maximum (three earned runs, again tying a season worst), on ten hits. He also didn't benefit from any double-plays. An interesting quote from Webb:

I had to battle every inning. I found some way to work through what felt like 25 hits and only give up three runs. I wasn't locating my fastball at all. I didn't feel like I was working ahead, my changeup wasn't good at all. I wasn't locating like I wanted to for some reason. I just didn't have it today."

This, for a quality start without walking a hitter and fanning six. Oh, that the Manatee had such powers of self-criticism. Webb has now issued only one free pass in 32.1 innings, since the sixth inning on April 19. That's a phenomenal achievement from someone who led the National League in walks, as recently as 2004, when he allowed 5.15 per nine innings. He's now got that figure down to less than one, and is the only such pitcher in the league to have faced 100 or more batters.

And in the end, while Webb coughed up the lead, not once, but twice, he still became the first major-league pitcher to reach six wins, This was largely thanks to the offense, but even they had their issues, leaving a franchise record sixteen men on base, in addition to the seven who came home. Jackson, Estrada and Hudson each abandoned five baserunners to their fate, though Estrada did get two hits, and Jackson an RBI.

No such excuse for Hudson, who is now batting .221 on the season, with five hits in the last 37 at-bats. I know he wasn't expected to be a major power threat, but really... Even the most pessimistic of the pre-season community projections we did here had O-Dawg in double figures for home runs, and slugging .410. The reality, after 34 games? He's slugging .303 with no homers.

But enough of such criticism. There was plenty to enjoy from the offense, not least Chad Tracy going 4-for-4, and Shawn Green having his most productive day of the season, driving in three runs on three hits, and getting his season average up to .333. We now have five regular starters batting .300 or above: Green and Tracy, plus Estrada, Counsell and Byrnes [Jackson is just below the line, at .295]. They combined for fourteen of our sixteen hits yesterday.

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Today: Just the one game for me, thank you...

Thanks to William K, npineda, VIII, azdb7, Devin, Otacon and an Anonymous Hero for their comments over the past game and/or postponement. I don't really feel justified in doing Zeroes and Heroes for this series, in part because two games is too small a sample size, but mostly because we're off to see Mission Impossible 3 tonight, so I'm not inclined to hang around. Preview of the St. Louis game will follow tomorrow.