Record: 13-13. Change on last season: -2
Or, how Shawn Green managed to go from zero to hero in the course of three innings. "I just clanked it," said Shawn Green, and there's basically no arguing that. A routine first-inning fly ball from Lofton bounced off the end of his glove, turning into a triple; Lofton then scored the Dodgers' first run. A mob of enraged villagers, armed with torches and pitchforks, prepared to storm Chase Field. However, in the third, with Arizona clinging to a precarious lead, Green leapt at the fence, snatching a two-run homer away from J.D.Drew. The mob decided to go get pizza instead.
Despite the lack of a community lynching for our underachieving right-fielder, this would still probably have been a good, if somewhat nerve-wracking, game to watch. Not that very many actually bothered to show up, with the crowd being only 20,099. They saw a contest where the scoring was complete by the end of the second, and the teams then combined to put 13 straight zeroes on the board, and all the while a single run was the margin between the teams - fortunately, in our favour.
This was thanks to a mix of good fielding and solid pitching, from both our starter and the bullpen. [In six of the last seven games, we've now managed to restrict the opposition to three runs or less.] Vargas broke the mould of his previous poor home starts, allowing seven hits and a walk in six innings, with just one earned run. Vizcaino and Lyon were perfect, and though Valverde let the tying run reach second, he got Repko to ground out for the save.
Though, to be honest, we should have busted this puppy wide open in the second inning, when opposing starter Brad Penny had an unaccountable ten-minute spell where he couldn't get anyone out. Six straight D'backs reached, on a walk, two singles and three doubles, to score three runs and load the bases with nobody out. Even Vargas got in on the act with an RBI single, turning the order over. But Counsell flied out and DaVanon - intent, it seems, on making my praise for him as a good #2 hitter look like insanity - grounded into a double play.
From then on, it seemed that it was only a matter of time until this failure to take full advantage of a golden opportunity proved to be our undoing. But the Dodgers seemed equally incapable of converting on their chances. The closest they came was in the sixth, where they loaded the bases with one out. But Vargas fielded a comebacker nicely, threw to home for the force, and Estrada completed the double-play at first. Exit Vargas, clutching his quality start with the intense grip of a four-year old on her best stuffed toy.
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Today: Home, Sweet Home
Thanks to npineda, azdb7, johngordonma, keith and Devin for their contributions. Meanwhile, I dealt with someone who tried to register the domain name PEPSI.EU and was apparently surprised he didn't get it. I've also decided I don't want to join Advanced Hosting Support - they have to spend too much time on the phone. Time which could be more pleasurably spent listening to D'backs games... Maybe once the season is over.
The victory means we are guaranteed a winning record during this stretch against our divisional opponents: we're 8-6, with today's game left to play. Given nine of those games were on the road, I'm fairly happy with our performance so far playing the NL West. The division looks like it's going to be close again. Bit of a surprise to see the Rockies still out in front, without Helton, but it remains difficult to see them holding on over the course of a season. More than half their wins have been by one run, which can't last.
As for the rest of the division, the Giants bullpen remains highly questionable; the Padres offense is just awful; our rotation is an exercise in quantum mechanics (until you open the box, you don't know if you'll get a live kitten or a deceased pussy); the Dodgers still look the most all-round solid team, but are bumbling around below .500, despite being tied (with us) for the best run differential in the division. They're kinda the anti-Rockies, 2-9 in one-run games, but again, that should regress in due course.
The Central, meanwhile, is looking like the Division of Death, with everyone save the Pirates four games or more above .500 - the other two divisions have just one such team between them, the Mets. The West are 7-11 when facing the Central; the East a woeful 8-24 against their neighbours. Doesn't bode well for the Diamondbacks chances over the rest of the week, as we play the Cubs and Reds after finishing the Dodgers series tonight.
And a salutory note on the utter meaninglessness of spring training statistics. Remember Jerry Gil? Hit .385 during the Cactus League? Only just failed to push Andy Green off the roster? While Green has yet to start a single content, after sixteen games for Tucson, Gil was batting .128, and has been dispatched back down to Double-A Tennessee. How the (not-so) mighty are fallen.