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AZ 7, Reds 0 - More and Faster

Record: 29-19. Change on last season: +1

After back-to-back shutouts by the same starter, we now post straightforward back-to-back shutouts as a team. Actually, not so long since we managed that - twice in July last season, to be exact. Here are all the occasions in franchise history when we've done it:

  Date      Opponent  Score  Starter
==========  ========  =====  =========
09-11-1999  Phillies   4-0   Benes
09-12-1999  Phillies   5-0   Stottlemyre
04-01-2002  Padres     2-0   Johnson
04-02-2002  Padres     9-0   Schilling
07-25-2002  Padres    10-0   Patterson
07-26-2002  Padres    12-0   Johnson
07-10-2005  Reds       2-0   Gosling
07-14-2005  Brewers    3-0   Vazquez
07-27-2005  Brewers    3-0   Vargas
07-28-2005  Cubs       6-0   Halsey
26-05-2006  Reds       3-0   Webb
27-05-2006  Reds       7-0   Cruz

These two games have been particularly impressive, since we've shut down a Reds offense which was barrelling along at a rate of 5.3 runs/game before we got here. Not any more: Juan Cruz and three relievers took care of that, combining on a five-hitter, while Orlando Hudson had three hits, including his first home run of the year.

It took a while before we could go onto "Cruz control" - the game was scoreless through three, until Counsell scored on an RBI single by Byrnes. We added another run in each of the next three innings, before Hudson's three-run blast provided the final margin of victory. With Hudson having passed Easley and Snyder in the RBI column, it's time to retire the Hudson RBI watch.

Or, at least, replace it. With the blast also ending the "Middle Infield HR Watch" (it took 321 at-bats combined for Counsell and Hudson to hit their first homer of the season), it seems time to activate the long-threatened Tracy K Watch. Chad went 0-for-5 with 2 K's, upping his scheduled strikeout total for the season to a meaty 162; in the past week, only one major-leaguer, Austin Kearns, has fanned more. We'll continue this one, until Tracy's pace is less than the franchise record 145, set by Troy Glaus last year.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (younger readers can read "badly-scratched CD" there), we were helped by the opposition defense again, the Reds adding two more to their major-league leading error total. In the past nine games, our foes have committed 18 errors, leading to seventeen unearned runs; the Diamondbacks only three errors, and have no unearned runs. We can't really rely on this continuing, but it's nice to see us taking advantage of all the extra outs.

Cruz went six innings, allowed four hits, kept the walks in check (only two, though these did come back-to-back), and struck out five. The bullpen then came in, and threw three innings of one-hit ball, in only 40 pitches. Jorge Julio made his Diamondback debut in the ninth, and hurled a perfect inning, striking out two Reds. I'm thinking he'll likely join Lyon and Valverde in the A-bullpen.

On the batting front, as well as Hudson's three hits, Counsell and Snyder chipped in with a pair of knocks and an RBI each. Clark went 0-for-3, doing nothing to justify why he is starting over Jackson - Conor pinch-hit in the eighth and drew a walk. One final thought on Chad - he seems a great fan of Chase Field. Here are his splits:
Home: .337/.375/.606 = .981 OPS, 7 HR, 17 RBI
Road: .253/.341/.405 = .746 OPS, 1 HR, 10 RBI

As William K noted, we're now ten games above .500, the highest we've been since July 20, 2003 (which just happened to be my second wedding anniversary); the Dodgers won again, but it's particularly impressive to note that only St. Louis has a better record in the NL than us. Indeed, only three teams in all of baseball have more wins. If - and I appreciate that's a significant caveat - we keep getting quality starts from our pitchers, who knows what might happen?

Thanks also to VIII, dahlian, azshadowwalker, Spencer and johngordonma for their comments on the GameDay Thread - and nice to see icecoldmo back, over in the diary comments. Preview for Sunday's game to follow very, very shortly, since it's extremely unlikely that I'll be up in time for first pitch at 10 am!

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