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AZ 7, Rangers 10 - Sweep in the Heart of Texas

Record: 35-34. Change on last season: 0

Definitely not worth bothering to get up early for this. Though I suppose we did at least manage to find a different way to lose: Vizcaino surrendered three runs on fifteen pitches in the eighth, without retiring a batter. That came after we had clawed our way back from a 7-4 sixth inning deficit, tying the game on a Shawn Green homer, leading off in the eighth - Green was the DH for the day.

Of course, some things stayed the same - such as our startling ability to dig ourselves a big first-inning hole. It did appear that Counsell and DaVanon had not received the memo on this matter, breaking club protocol by scoring two runs in the top of the first. However, Enrique Gonzalez soon restored the natural order of the universe, by allowing Texas to score five in the bottom half, on five hits and a walk. This time out, Enrique was less Gladiator, more...well:

Spurred on by the return to normality, we fought back, Byrnes and Hudson going deep in the second, making it a one-run game. But a two-run homer for Texas restored the lead; we returned in the sixth, after Castro walked the bases loaded with no outs. A single and a sac. fly made it 7-6, and another walk loaded the bases again, still with only one out. But Counsell and DaVanon fanned, wasting a golden chance; though Green's homer tied it up, as mentioned, the Rangers still won, sweeping Arizona away.

There was, at least, a little bit of fight to our performance today, particularly from the offense. Seven runs is the most we've scored in exactly two weeks - in fact, it's as many as we've scored in total, over any back-to-back games since then. Counsell had two hits, including a lovely bunt single to lead off the ninth. But he was then caught stealing, when his run meant absolutely nothing. Byrnes and DaVanon each reached base three times, on a hit and two walks.

Perhaps inevitably, however, if our hitting was okay, our pitching had two large holes in it: Enrique- and Luis-shaped holes. Gonzalez gave up a total of nine hits and two walks in five innings, with all seven runs being earned. Medders pitched two good innings before Vizcaino's meltdown, and Choate and Lyon mopped up what remained of our interest in the game, after Vizcaino had finished allowed Texas hitters to reach base.

Remarkably, however, the Dodgers lost again, so we game back. As did the Rockies. And the Giants. Indeed, the Padres are the only team in the NL West not currently on a losing streak of three or more games. I just wish that someone would take control, reel off eight or nine games in a row, and bury our chances of the NL West entirely. The past two weeks has shown that we are a long way short of being a playoff-ready team, but thanks to the ineptitude of everyone else in the division, we're still giving the illusion of being "in contention".

My concern is that if the mirage (or NL West shaped-beacon, if you will - bad Zoot!) continues to hover tantalisingly in front of us, then it greatly increases the chance of us doing something stupid at the trade deadline. Something involving trading away the future for a meaningless run at this year. Something to try and lure back the fans, turned off by GrimsleyGate, GonzoGate and LongLosingStreakGate.

Thanks to Ben, VIII, azdb7, icecoldmo, Devin, 4CornersFan, azshadowwalker and Spencer, who were mostly up a damn sight earlier than me this morning...

Heroes and Zeroes
Series 23: vs. Rangers, on road

Medders: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 ER
Hudson: 5-for-11, HR
Tracy: 2-for-14, 0 BB, 2 K
Vizcaino: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, Loss
Jarvis: 5 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 8 ER

Villains are plentiful, but I wanted to pick one from each category: position players, starters and bullpen, since they all sucked, in their own way. Our starters were probably the main culprits, posting the following, highly unimpressive combined line for this series:
Rotation: 15.2 IP, 28 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 20 ER
Don't mess with Texas, indeed. It didn't matter who we threw at them - young rookie, staff ace or "crafty veteran" - all our starters were chewed up and spat out.

Actually, blaming the bullpen in general would be wrong: outside of Vizcaino, the rest of them threw eight shutout innings. Medders led the pack, with 3.1 frames but, between them, Aquino, Choate and Valverde threw three more - with eight strikeouts to boot. However, Luis's awful performance should have the rest of his pack turning on him, and administering a good kicking in the darkest corner of the bullpen.

Tracy had a poor series, and is having a pretty bad June, batting only .194 - half his hits for the month so far have come in a pair of three-hit games. On the other hand, Hudson is continuing his strong June: he's batting .339 in it, and has raised his batting average up by 28 points. Shawn Green, like Tracy, only had two hits, but both of his left the park, and Snyder led the team with three RBIs, despite only three at-bats.

And it's off to Pittsburgh for a brief stop tomorrow on the way to Tampa Bay; another horrendously-early game (9:35 am first pitch!). And it's not on television either, naturally - I guess pree-empting Regis Philbin is just not an option. But I don't think I'll be seeing much of this one either; here's to me waking up to find us beating the Pirates.

[Morning update]

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Today: Luis late - lose late