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AZ 1, Braves 2 - Turn Back the Clock Day at Chase Field

Record: 24-19. Change on last season: -2

Probably inevitably after the first two games in this series, there was a sense of disappointment and letdown on Sunday. This was particularly true of our offense, which posted 23 runs combined Friday and Saturday, but showed a startling inability to get runners over and in this afternoon. In the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, we had a man on second and no outs - we failed to score every time. This is, by far, the biggest reason why we lost: we outhit the Braves 7-3, but left twelve men on base. As was pointed out in the comments, this was like a throwback to the D'backs, version 2005.

This lack of clutch overshadows some positives, not least the return to form of Juan Cruz. He was perfect through 4 1/3, retiring the first 13 Braves he faced until walking Francoeur, and went five great innings, with just one walk and a hit, while fanning seven. Unfortunately, he also came out for a sixth, not so great inning. That started with a walk to the opposing pitcher, and also included two hits, another walk and a wild pitch, leading to a pair of runs. This was all the scoring the Braves would do; however, unfortunately, it was all that they'd need.

We could muster nothing of significance off Tim Hudson: in eight innings, he allowed six hits and three walks, and got the outs when they were most essential. Counsell had two hits and a stolen base, but was also caught stealing. We finally broke through with two outs in the ninth, off the Braves' hapless closer Reitsma, when Jackson scored on an RBI double by Byrnes, but Reitsma was yanked before he could blow another one, and the threat was averted.

Despite posting zeroes, and allowing one hit, our bullpen was hardly excellent in their execution, walking four. Daigle looked particularly flaky, escaping only with the aid of a double play; I'm really surprised it wasn't him who got sent down to Tucson to make way for Jarvis. Another very healthy crowd at Chase Field: 33,102, impressive given the promotion today was fairly minor - 5,000 kids baseball caps. Maybe the word is getting out that we're playing some pretty fun baseball.

Thanks to VIII, npineda, azshadowwalker, Spencer and Devin for their assistance - I had to bail early to go take in WWE Judgement Day at the US Airways Center, from which I just got back [For the benefit of VIII, main highlights were: Booker T won King of the Ring, MNM lost the tag titles, The Great Khali demolished the Undertaker, Mark Henry beat Kurt Angle and - to the joy of the roughly 10,000 Mexicans in attendance (and, I admit, me!) - Rey Mysterio beat JBL to retain the heavyweight belt]

Heroes and Zeroes
Series 15: vs. Braves, at home

Webb: 9 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 0 ER
Counsell: 6-for-12, 2 BB, 0 K
Jackson: 5-for-9, 3 RBI
Hudson: 2-for-11
Batista: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 5 ER

Normal service has been resumed: Brandon Webb is back on top of the heroes, with his first complete-game shutout of the year. I'm prepared to bet that won't be the last, either. An All-Star Game invitation seems assured, and if we can keep giving him decent run support, it may be time to crank up the ol' Cy Young plugathon before much longer. Counsell proved a real sparkplug at the top of the order, getting on base with admirable frequency, while Jackson also produced the goods, but will still "rewarded" with a benching this afternoon.

Not too much to complain about, though Hudson's lack of hitting continues to disturb, even if he did get an RBI this series. Take off the first inning, and Batista pitched very well: unfortunately, baseball is not like the Olympic diving competition, where the highest and lowest scores get discarded. :-( But overall, another series win against the always-dangerous Braves, and 2 2/3 good outings for our starters - both Cruz and Batista were undone by one bad frame.

The loss this afternoon, coupled with a Rockies win, sends us back into second place in the dog-eat-dog NL West, where two games cover all five teams, with everyone at least two games above .500 too. More evidence the division is much stronger than last year: combined, the West is +19; the East is -20 and the Central +3. Next up for us is Pittsburgh, and I've got "sweep" down as an expectation: two out of three will be disappointing.

But, having taken the day off work, I'm going to take the rest of the night off, and the Fangraph will thus follow tomorrow. I can't even be bothered to do an artist's impression, but I state with a fair degree of certainty that it'll be wiggling around the middle until the top of the 6th, then kick down, and slope gently towards the bottom, before a brief twitch up at the end. Math, it's clearly over-rated. ;-) Fantasy Baseball Report will get done tomorrow too: if you've seen my team, you'll know exactly why I'm not really looking forward to that...

[Morning-after edit] Here's the fangraph: you'll notice how the Braves didn't even get it below midway until Francoeuer's walk in the fifth.

Your daily dose of yummy Fangraphs goodness
[Click pic to see full version in new window]
Today: RISP. RISP. And RISP once more.

Fantasy baseball update to follow very shortly. Was remarkably cheered by the outcome this week, personally. I might just have to pick up Jose Cruz again. :-)