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AZ 5, Pirates 4 - Pillaging Pittsburgh

Record: 36-34. Change on last season: +1

"Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape."
Today's themesong

I just hope the Diamondbacks got out of town before the Pittsburgh district attorney caught up to them. Because, boy, did they steal one from the Pirates today. If I may shift cinematic metaphors with jarring speed, the Keyser Soze for the game was Greg Aquino, who walked away clutching the W, thanks to J-Strada's pinch-hit RBI single in the eleventh inning. It really, really, really didn't look like that would be the case, when he loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, and the score 4-4.

The D'backs would have been forgiven for packing up their bags and heading for the airport at that point. But, having blown things as close to the edge as imaginable, here's how Aquino dealt with the next three Pirates batters:

  • Burnitz: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Strike swinging - struck out swinging
  • Sanchez: Strike looking, Strike foul, Strike swinging - struck out swinging
  • Castillo: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging - struck out swinging

Merely three straight swinging K's to step back from the brink. "And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you" -- Nietzsche. Greg Aquino appears to have been sitting next to Mr. Abyss on the flight from Texas. After that, escaping a mere first-and-third, one-out jam in the bottom of the tenth, with a foul-out and a ground out, hardly merits a mention. But, boy, I look forward to seeing the Fangraph of this one.

Scott Hairston was called up, replacing Kevin Jarvis on the roster [the phrase "hardly missed" comes to mind there]. Not sure what this means in regard to a starter for Thursday: it seems likely Juan Cruz might not be ready. I note that Edgar Gonzalez was pulled after one inning of his scheduled start for the Sidewinders, so I would not be surprised if we get the long-anticipated Dual-Barrelled EGon action in the rotation.

However, Hairston crashed into the outfield wall trying to catch a line-drive, and jarred his shoulder, badly enough to get him taken out of the game. Hopefully, this will not be significant or, worse yet, merit a trip to the DL - though Gonzo may be forgiven for thinking otherwise. In his season debut, Hairston had a double and a single; that's more total bases than Gonzalez has managed in any of the past sixteen games...

Good Claudio was the one who turned up today, going six innings, allowing five hits and two walks, while striking out six Pirates. His only significant mistake was a two-run homer to Bautista in the fifth. Vizcaino, Choate and Lyon pitched the seventh: Lyon fanned Bay to end the inning but allowed two runs in the eighth. Then Aquino...did his thing... before Julio pitched a calm, competent, entirely panic- and baserunner-free 11th for the save.

12 hits in total: three each for Byrnes and Snyder, who are both now knocking at the door of the .300 club again [Shawn Green, however, went 0-for-4 and is putting his jacket on, ready to leave it] Tracy had two hits, but also fanned three times, moving him up to fifth in the league. Damion Easley went 0-for-5, left six men on base and is 2-for-23 since the start of the last homestand.

Up until Estrada's single, all our runs came in the fourth inning. Byrnes led off with a double, and came home on an RBI double from Hairston. Then Jackson, Green and Hudson all walked - the last, with the bases loaded. And finally, Snyder singled to left, driving in two runs, as we sent nine men to the plate and scored four times. It was nice to have a meaningful lead, though I could have done without the heartstopping action later on.

"These are the kinds of wins that change a season," Estrada said. I dunno. We'll see. It seems to me more an affirmation of the hierarchy: the 2006 Diamondbacks are not a very good team, but we are better than the 2006 Pirates. I can't imagine the Mets or the Cards whiffing three times with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth. Against a better team, we've have been toast; however, we were playing Pittsburgh, and so will take the W and move on. [Great interleague series this week: Pittsburgh, on course for a 59-103 season, face Kansas City, heading for 45-117. I live for this...]

Bit more activity in the Gameday Thread, despite another unfeasibly early start - these East Coast road-trips do not go well with working until 1:30 am! Thanks to William K, Ben, VIII (for his uncanny impersonation of CommentBot), azshadowwalker, IndyDBack, Keith and Spencer, for their comments. It was good to get a win under our belts; let's hope for some more against our expansion brothers in Tampa Bay.

[Morning update]

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Today: Greg swipes a W