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AZ 0, Mets 5 - False Dawn

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Record: 34-28. Change on last season: +1

Amid the glow of raised expectations, following our decent performance on Friday, and the hope that springs eternal whenever Brandon Webb is on the mound, we were all in optimistic mood today. Surely, this would mark the end of the losing streak, and we could slap GrimsleyGate in the box, stuff in under the bed, then look forward to laughing about it all in a year or two.

This cheerful anticipation lasted exactly eight pitches, before Tracy returned to his 2004 form, air-mailing an throw over to Jackson at first. By the time Webb finally escaped the first inning, he had been tagged for three unearned runs, and the original sense of "Here we go!" had been replaced by one of "Here we go again..." Still, we were facing a rookie whom we had caned for seven earned runs, only ten days ago. Scoring three? No problem.

But in the words of S.E.Hinton, "That was then, this is now." Fast-forward nine innings, and Arizona found itself two-hit by someone with just eighteen innings of big-league experience and three previous appearances in the majors. Someone who, in those innings, had allowed 19 hits, eight walks and ten earned runs. I'm not sure whether this was worse than letting El Duque get his first complete game in six years: you could make a good case either way for that one. Certainly a good week for Cubans in Arizona...

This was, probably, the less-impressive performance by our hitters: Hernandez does, at least, deserve the label "crafty veteran". To put it into context, this was the first shutout by a Mets rookie in almost 12 years - Jason Jacome threw the last one, on July 7, 1994. We went 2-for-29 against Soler, Hudson and pinch-hitter Davanon's doubles being the only hits we managed. The latter was the only runner to reach third, before being stranded there.

Remember the days when we could send out a lineup with six hitters above .300? How long ago that seems. We're down to two members of the Three Hundred Club now, Green (.319) and Estrada (.311) - Byrnes, Tracy, Jackson and Counsell no longer qualify for membership. Indeed, the last two are below .280 these days, thanks to a June which has seen them bat a combined .161 this month (10-for-62). Rookie of the Year hopes for Jackson have slid sharply recently.

Brandon Webb's unbeaten record collapsed, despite allowing one earned run over eight innings, with a season-high nine strikeouts and no walks. His ERA came down to 2.06, and he's now winless in his past three outings, though has the following impressive line:
Webb: 22 IP, 19 H, 4 BB, 21 K, 7 R, 4 ER, 1.64 ERA
This was, however, the first time this year he got more fly-outs than ground-outs, by a margin of 8-7. It's also the first time since April 8 he's got less than ten groundballs. Lyon pitched the ninth and gave up the Mets fifth run.

Decent crowd on hand - 33,671, no doubt partly lured by the possibility of a Luis Gonzalez figurine - and Grace's Place happening too, up in Nosebleed Alley. But they didn't get to see a victory; instead, the Mets extended their streak of wins in Arizona to nine, and sent us to our sixth successive defeat. The last time we lost more than that was 2-9 September, 2004, when we dropped seven in a row. We'll likely match that on Sunday: you all know what the pitching matchup for tomorrow looks like, and I trust we are assuming the appropriate crash positions.

Interesting comments from Melvin, as reported by Bob McManaman: ?On paper, it?s not the greatest matchup in the world. You?ve got Pedro that day. But maybe that?s good for him. Maybe he?ll go out there knowing he can?t give up runs in the very beginning. Let?s see how he responds." McManaman then adds, "If he responds badly, would the Diamondbacks consider cutting their losses and releasing Ortiz? I think they would. And when Juan Cruz returns from the disabled list, it just might happen." We'll see what happens...

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Today: Brandon takes the L-train

Thanks to npineda, micmac99 (in particular, for the nice game report), azshadowwalker, William K, IndyDBack, VIII, andrewinnewyork, Devin and an Anonymous Hero for their comments as things fell apart once more tonight. Still, LA lost, and that means the NL West, which was starting to spread out a little bit, bunches up a bit more once again. The Padres and Giants are only two back, with the Rockies not out of the picture yet, at 3.5 behind.

In a desperate measure to get things kick-started again, I'm turning tomorrow's GameDay Thread back over to npineda - I'm 0-6 since returning from my break. I figure that making Ortiz beat Pedro Martinez is a serious test of his mojo! 1:40pm first pitch, so I'll get to see the first couple of frames - or, if Ortiz pitches as anticipated, the top of the first...