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AZ 3, Cardinals 5 - Blooped and Blasted.

Record: 19-16. Change on last season: -1

It was a combination of little hits and one big blow that doomed Arizona yesterday. In the first inning, three hits and a sacrifice fly staked St. Louis to an early 2-0 lead - but the only ball which was hit hard was the sac. fly. Apparently, channelling the spirit of the Manatee, Cruz said afterwards, "I just try to make good pitches, and I did and they got base hits. It's something I can't control." Unlike, Ortiz, he may actually have had a point.

We did restrain the threat of Pujols to manageable levels - I guess "only" one RBI, a run scored and no homers, counts as restraint given his current rate of production. It was Jim Edmonds who proved the more dangerous hitter. He drove in three runs including a two-run homer off a Cruz changeup in the fifth, after we'd tagged Pujols with a pitch. Well, that's one way to stop him from hitting, I suppose.

That was particularly deflating, as we'd come back to tie the game up in the top of the inning, Byrnes homering off Mulder, with Hudson aboard. That was the first runs Arizona had ever scored against Mulder, breaking a streak of 22.2 scoreless innings facing the left-hander, including two complete-game shutouts in his previous outings against the Diamondbacks. So I guess that was something.

Otherwise, Byrnes and Jackson had two hits each, meaning Jackson became the sixth current member of the .300 club on the roster. But the left-handers in the lineup had a miserable day: Tracy, Gonzalez and Green went a combined 1-for-12, with six strikeouts and no walks. Let's take a look at their splits:

            vs. Left      *       vs. Right
        BA  OBP  SLG  OPS *   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
      -----------------------------------------
Gonzo .170 .313 .302 .615 * .324 .388 .608 .996
Green .318 .367 .636 1003 * .325 .366 .364 .730
Tracy .311 .364 .525 .889 * .303 .360 .526 .886

Tracy basically doesn't appear to have any split. Green has no power against righties (three extra-bases in 77 at-bats), and Gonzo...eeeh. Not pretty. I know 53 at-bats is a small sample, but so far, he seems to have lost the ability to hit left-handers completely - he has as many walks as hits. CommentBot is being reprogrammed accordingly. It seems to be time to look at platooning him when we face a southpaw like Mulder.

We did threaten in the ninth, despite being three runs down. Jackson walked, and took second; after Green and Hudson fanned off Isringhausen, pinch-hitter Estrada singled CoJack home, bringing Tony Clark to the plate, in a situation full of nostalgic promise. Had this been last season, the ball would likely have soared into the bleachers to tie the game. But it's 2006: Clark "grounded out, second baseman Miles to first baseman Pujols," a simple yet plaintive line in the play-by-play which echoes the problems currently facing the .146-hitting veteran.

The B-Bullpen - Aquino, Grimsley and Daigle - pitched scoreless innings in relief of Cruz, who allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks. Grimsley, of all people, struck out the Cardinals in the seventh; quite a feat, given he only had four K's in the 19.1 innings pitched prior to that. And he was not feasting on the bottom third of the order either: he fanned Edmonds, Rolen, and Encarnacion. I confess, Grimsley has proven his worth lately: since coming in as an emergency stopgap on April 20, he's thrown 12.2 innings and allowed two earned runs.

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Today: The Byrnes Dip vs. the Edmonds Spike

Thanks to VIII, Devin, npineda, Ben and William K for commenting, while I largely got stuck with a particularly nasty Perl scripting issue. [I'll spare you the details, but should you care, never use Internet Explorer as an FTP tool to transfer CGI scripts to your hosting account. Don't say this blog is not educational. Usefully educational, perhaps not, I grant you.]

Melvin has changed his mind and decided to re-jig the rotation after all. This means good and bad news for Hernandez. He no longer has to face reigning Cy Young champ, Chris Carpenter, on Sunday. Phew! Dodged a bullet there, El Manati Pequeno. Or not - because instead, he's now facing Jake Peavy on Tuesday in San Diego. Said Melvin, "We looked at it a little harder today and just felt like it was the best thing to do for everybody involved." Hernandez was reportedly not too happy at the decision. Hey, give us a few quality starts, then we'll talk.

Another day off for Counsell yesterday. Even discounting the dodgy hamstring and weak back (the latter also giving DaVanon trouble), seems that he's also playing with a "slightly-torn" labrum, which seems kinda worrying. While my medical knowledge is limited to a two-day St. John's Ambulance course, doesn't this potentially put him about one checked swing away from doing a Richie Sexson? Though a Counsell checked swing is probably a less brutal physiological stress-test than one by Sexson, I trust Melvin and Byrnes have Drew's number on speed-dial.

Speaking of former D'back sluggers, interesting to compare and contrast the seasons being had by our two ex-corner infielders, Sexson and Troy Glaus:

  • Richie Sexson: .195/.275/.323, 3 HR, 17 RBI
  • Troy Glaus: .266/.351/.617, 12 HR, 30 RBI

Certainly, we're only a quarter of the way through the season, but trading Glaus - on pace for 53 homers and 131 RBI - and Sergio Santos, for Batista (5.05 ERA) and Hudson (.222, 0 HR), is looking like a pretty questionable decision thus far. Especially as Hudson's much-vaunted defensive superiority is hardly detectable, even by advanced measures like Fielding Runs Above Average (he's at +3, while Glaus is a +4). We'll see how this pans out.