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Gameday Thread, #81: 7/1 vs. A's

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Miguel Batista, RHP (7-5, 5.21)
Esteban Loaiza, RHP (3-4, 6.34)

A rare Saturday afternoon game for the Diamondbacks, which throws my schedule right off. Hence, I'll keep this somewhat shorter than usual. I'm being a little cautious after last night's win, and not proclaiming it the end of the slump: we've had false dawns before, like the Pittsburgh win where Johnny Estrada famously proclaimed, "These are the kinds of wins that change a season." We then lost eight of the next nine games.

However, it does give us two shots at a series win, which we haven't had since the set in Atlanta, and it'd be nice to post back-to-back wins, something also not done since we met the Braves. I have noticed a steady uptick over the past three games, which have gone: could have won, should have won, did win. I'd be hard to point to any other such streak in June, where our performances improved like that.

However, I'm increasingly concerned about our pitching rotation; the rest of the series showcases the two most worrying members, Batista and Webb. It seems Miggy's arm fell off in that 124-pitch complete game win at the end of May. He'll be as glad as anyone to see June gone, since he posted a 7.76 ERA, allowing 43 hits and 13 walks in 29 innings. He has been urged by pitching coach Bryan Price to throw more breaking pitches, so we'll see if that has any effect on him today.

For the A's, Loaiza goes and is coming off his first complete-game in more than two years - he only threw 97 pitches, so it seems unlikely there'll be ill effects. However, that was a season-high for him, and it seems quite credible that if we show patience, five innings might be all he gets to throw. He can be hit - the outing before that complete game, he lasted 3.2 innings, giving up nine hits and four walks. Hopefully the Diamondbacks will be able to take advantage.