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AZ 3, Rangers 5 - Road Worriers

Record: 35-32. Change on last season: 0

The similarities to 2005 are becoming almost creepy. Last year, we started off the year 30-22 through the end of May, before the wheels fell off the Diamondbacks, in a 9-19 June. This season, we started off the year 30-22 through the end of May - and there is now a familiar grinding sound to be heard, in the shape of a 5-10 record, for the month of June thus far. Let's hope history doesn't repeat; if so, we won't win three games in a row again, until the end of August.

It's the offense who are the loose wheelnuts on the Chassis of Doom. In the eleven games since the start of the last homestand, they have scored just a total of 27 runs, less than 2.5 per game. It's only 13 in the last week, the same as we scored the penultimate win in the Atlanta series. We have four positions - half our lineup - batting .160 or less over that period: Tracy (3-for-23), Shawn Green (3-for-22), Byrnes (2-for-17), and the tandem of Clark/Jackson (4-for-25).

Today, we had only three singles through the first seven innings off Kevin Millwood - the Rangers beat our tally before Webb got the second out of the first inning. That was death by a thousand cuts: we were bled to death, with three infield hits, and a two-run double that got past Gonzalez after he lost it in the sun. By the time the Diamondbacks finally escaped, they found themselves, once again, behind after the first inning.

As noted, we were having serious problems with Millwood, And the Diamondbacks were not making him work very hard either - a lot of "first-pitch hacking" [phrase ? Cliches R Us and Thom Brennaman] seemed to be going on. And what baserunners we managed to get, were almost all with two outs; through the seventh, our lead-off hitters were 0-for-7, and with one out, we were 1-for-8, with no walks in either case. Hard to do much, when you're perpetually two outs in the hole with the bases empty.

Meanwhile, Brandon Webb had both his shortest and longest outing of the season. The shortest, in that he was pulled before completing six innings, for the first time since July 20th last year, a 28-start streak. But after throwing 40 pitches in that opening inning, he ended up at 116, the most he's delivered this year; the last time he threw more was a 118-pitch game in Coors Field on May 14th, 2005. He allowed ten hits in 5.2 innings; Webb didn't walk a batter and fanned six, but allowed five runs, all earned.

As a result, we were 5-0 behind when we finally broke through in the eighth inning, putting together a decent string of hits: double, RBI single, single, ground out, RBI single. That made it 5-2, with runners on the corners and one out, and brought Jackson and Green to the plate as the tying runs. Jackson hit a a sac.fly to center, but Green grounded out, and we went down tamely 1-2-3 in the ninth. Gonzalez and Hudson had two hits apiece, on another day of poor production.

A couple of interesting lineup changes. Conor Jackson DH'd, according to Melvin, because he wanted his best defensive lineup behind Webb. And Johnny Estrada hit at #2 for the first time in his professional career. Said Melvin, "Just mix it up a little bit. It's a little different dynamic with nine hitting spots in the lineup as opposed to eight." Estrada did get a hit, but also struck out.

Also, seems that Ken Kendrick addressed the team before Thursday's game, regretting the comments that he made, and the resulting distraction. According to Steve Gilbert, "Since then, several veterans have passed the word through the clubhouse that the incident should be used to bring the team closer together in an "us against the world" way." So far, it's World 1, Us 0...

Thanks to azshadowwalker, VIII, Devin, IndyDBack, 4CornersFan, William K, Ben and icecoldmo for their contributions. As the last-named put it, "What happened to working the pitch counts?" It only took Millwood 78 pitches for the first seven innings - that's an average of exactly three per hitter. Not quite the patience that stood this team in good stead during the first two months of the year.

[Morning update]

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Today: Loose early - lose often