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AZ 8, Pirates 7 - A Win, By Any Other Name

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Record: 27-19. Change on last season: 0


Snyder gets his, ah, kit together...
[Click to enlarge]

This is the poster child for not all one-run wins being created equal. Though this was a win, it wasn't a win, and it certainly doesn't qualify for win status. But, as ever, it was fun. Let's start by going through the checklist of things to look for:

  • Quality Start for Batista. HIT Six innings. Three runs, two earned. Miggy was definitely flagging by the end, after looking pretty solid through the front four.
  • Double-play by Arizona. HIT Two, in fact, extending the streak to 15.
  • Gonzalez breaks his homerless streak. No sign of him at all in the line-up, with Andy Green getting the start instead.
  • RBI for J-strada. MISS His replacement, Snyder, did get an RBI, but I specifically named Johnny.
  • And what the hell - one for Hudson too. HIT And I though this was a wild stab in the dark: in the first 45 games, it only happened six times. 4-for-4 for O-Dawg, and some nice defence. Must do this more often...
  • Tracy avoids fanning. MISS Struck out to end the fifth, but just the once in five at-bats.
  • Error-free defense. MISS Courtesy of Tracy, who couldn't handle the bouncing ball. Batista didn't seem too impressed, shall we say.
  • More K's than H+BBs by the bullpen STRIKE OUT 2 K's vs. 5 hits and a walk. Grimsley returned to the town of Suckitude, AZ, facing three batters and allowing three hits. Valverde...will be discussed more below.
  • Diamondbacks never trail. HIT The Pirates tied it back up in the second, and came within one in the sixth and the ninth, but we were always ahead from Byrnes' one-out homer in the first.

This game scores 50% on the Nostradamusmeter. At first, it almost seemed like a Spring Training game, with the B-team being out there: no Gonzalez, no Estrada, and initially, on the scoreboard, it looked like Easley was replacing Hudson. However, a late switch brought O-Dawg back in, and Orlando made Melvin look like a frickin' genius, as noted above. Batista was moving very smoothly and efficiently early on: through two innings, he'd thrown only 23 pitches, 19 for strikes, as the teams traded solo homers.


Just another double-play ground-ball...

In the bottom of the second, however, we took the lead. Green was wise not to challenge the Pirates' right-fielder, following a single by Hudson while on second. He stopped at third, and a wild pitch (or "WILP PITCH", as the Jumbotron called it) brought him home anyway; an RBI single by Snyder doubled the lead. It was at this point that they announced the trade with the Mets of El Ma?ati Volado for Jorge Julio, to general bemused indifference.

Batista walked the pitcher, but we turned a double play to get him out of any further trouble, and scored another run on defensive indifference - two more errors, both charged to their second baseman - by the Pirates in the bottom of the third. That inning did not endear home plate umpire Bob Davidson to the D'backs, both for calling out Byrnes on strikes, then declaring Andy Green out on catcher's interference on a bunt single attempt. Nice bit of defense by Jackson in the fourth; an errant throw by Tracy pulled him off the bag, but down the line, and he still tagged the runner.

Batista was fast losing control, and was lucky to get through the sixth without more damage. I did call the double-play there, having noticed the hitter had grounded out both times he'd faced Miggy previously that afternoon. Vizcaino replaced him in the seventh, and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, helped by some nice range from Hudson. We then blew things open, starting with some spectacular hustle by Byrnes, sliding headlong into first - probably unnecessarily - for an infield single. Tracy singled too, and though Jackson struck out, a double steal put men on second and third. This was the key moment of the game.


Andy Green makes the Pirates walk the plank
[Click to enlarge]

The Pirates opted to walk Shawn Green to get to Andy Green - and really, it was the right thing to do, given the pitcher, the situation and the hitters involved. However, Andy Green laced one down the left-field line to clear the bases, and make it an 8-3 game. "Good," I said to Mrs. SnakePit. "We can sit back and enjoy the rest of the game now." And, lo, here comes Grimsley: I explained to Chris the "A-Bullpen" and "B-Bullpen" concept, and that he usually appears in games where someone is winning by five runs or more. Unfortunately, Grimsley rapidly rendered my words redundant, demonstrating exactly why he's only used in mop-up situations.

Lyon was swiftly summoned, and dispatched the next three Pirates hitters: his breaking ball was a thing of absolute beauty. We failed to score, and it was time for Valverde, or "BIG PAPA" as the Jumbotron called him for some reason - is "Papa Grande" not politically correct? However, Valverde's last couple of outings have not been the most confidence-inducing ones: as on Monday, that three-run lead was reduced to one, and the tying run also put on base, before he got three outs, amid mounting concern in the stands. The final batter in this case was perilously close to a home run: I didn't realise how close, until I saw it on the replay after the game.

Four hits for Hudson, and two each for Byrnes, Tracy and both the Green boys. Andy Green's 3 RBI double turned out to be the most crucial hit of the game, though I'm not sure if the Fangraph will reflect that. Many thanks to npineda, stephen, Otacon, azshadowalker, VIII, Spencer, William K and dahlian for posting in the GameDay thread in my absence. A fair bit still to talk about, not least the Hernandez trade [and also Stephen's response to my "Class War NOW!" rant :-)], but that will all have to wait until tomorrow... Thanks also to Mister T for opening a diary on the trade, and I see plenty of activity there. All told, an interesting day...


Batista warms up in the bullpen
(and wonders where his pal Orlando is)

GAME NOTES

  • 18,394 in attendance, which just manages, by a couple of hundred, to avoid being the lowest crowd in franchise history. However, the series still set a new low of 56,490, breaking the record from the Padres series last week (57,865).

  • After striking out on the first couple, the Kiss Cam went on a streak of ten in a row, to finish the day a healthy 10-for-11.

  • They had the irritating blonde plugging Baxter's Den: the kids jumping around behind her, waving frantically at the camera, reminded me of those who inspired McManaman's comments in the paper. Except, they should know better.

  • The two people next to us turned up in the fourth inning, and left at the end of the seventh. Hardly worth driving all the way downtown, parking, etc. if you're going to stay for all of four innings.

  • Hudson was picked off second, but to his credit, made the defense work. The line read, "O Hudson caught stealing second, pitcher to first to shortstop to first to second." Admirable hustle: given the Pirates' defense, who knows what might have happened?

  • If the Jumbotron is going to exort the crowd to "GET LOUD", don't bother doing it with the visitors batting and one out in the fourth inning of a 4-1 game.

  • Though given the willingness of the sheeple, sorry people to follow the Jumbotron's orders, we briefly toyed with the idea of hacking into the control room, and replacing "GET LOUD" with "OBEY YOUR LEADERS MINDLESSLY" or simply "CONSUME", They Live style.

  • In the seventh-inning stretch, they played God Bless America as well as Take Me Out to the Ballgame - I though the former was only on Sundays?

  • I admit, even I laughed at the skit where Baxter chased two pirates around the pool area and dispatched them to a watery grave. Cue the headline: Baxter In Genuinely Entertaining Moment Shock.

  • We learned that Andy Green's favourite style of music is "Christian and Country". I can only hope his locker is not next to Brandon Lyon, who enters to Rob Zombie's Dragula.


Batista prepares to lay down a bunt
(and wonders what his fate would be if he fails...)

[Morning update]

Your daily dose of yummy Fangraphs goodness
[Click pic to see full version in new window]
Today: Sinking the Pirates

Nice to see a game where that line doesn't enter opposition territory at any point. Also interesting to see how, despite that ninth-inning carnage, the odds of victory remained heavily in our favour: in particular, the sac. fly may have narrowed the lead to one, but the out it gave up was far more valuable in terms of the outcome. The runner who scored from third was, effectively, meaningless.