Record: 50-48. Change on last season: +3
As stated in the preview, "the best-laid plans of evil geniuses never get disrupted until the last possible moment". The classic example of this is Goldfinger, where Bond stops the nuclear device when the countdown clock has reached - of course! - 0:07. And so it proved with my Cunning Plan to take over the NL West. Through the front three games, and after eight innings of today's game, it was all going so well. We were ahead by two runs, and the Padres would eventually also do their job, getting by the Giants in eleven innings.
All Julio had to do was get through the ninth inning. He could even allow a run. And the top of the NL West would then, at the time of writing, be ours. But every plan has a fatal flaw, and ours was Bob Melvin, who decided to run Jorge out for a fourth consecutive day - something Julio hasn't done this season or last. In the GameDay Thread, we were debating the wisdom of that as early as the seventh innings, and I think both the use of, and the need to use, Julio can probably be chalked up to Melvin management.
In particular, I was surprised to see Tony Pena yanked having thrown only 17 pitches. They'd already let him bat between his first two innings, and he'd retired six straight. I'd have let him go one more: then we could have used Vizcaino and Lyon for the eighth and ninth. Or even Medders, who threw only five pitches yesterday, would have seemed like a better bet, especially with an off-day tomorrow. However, Melvin's use of bullpen arms has never, ever been a strong point. I just hope Julio does not go the way of our other closers, that BoMel has "broken"...
That ruined what would have been another classic D'backs comeback. The Rockies cantered off to a 5-1 lead by the middle of the fourth, smacking Cruz around for eight hits and a walk. However, we then posted a six-spot in the bottom of the inning, starting with Quentin's two-run pinch-hit double. Jackson, Gonzalez and Green added three more doubles around an intentional walk to Tracy, and Kim was sent off to the showers as well. Both bullpens then posted zeroes from the fifth through eighth before Jorge Jorrible entered play.
Gonzalez continued his torrid streak, adding three more hits, making him 17-for-37 over this homestand. His .280 season average is now the highest it's been since May 29. DaVanon, Hudson and Snyder had two hits apiece - Hudson and Tracy had a pair of walks apiece. And between Cruz and Julio, the bullpen was very effective: Pena, Vizcaino and Lyon allowed only one baserunner in four innings of work. But, in the end, it was all for naught.
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Today: Julio completes what Cruz couldn't
Thanks to npineda, Wimb, unnamedDBacksfan, DiamondbacksWIn, Mister T in AZ, VIII, johngordonma, azshadowwalker and (the briefly-returning!) azdb7 for their comments on the disaster that unfolded in the ninth inning. Still, we end the homestand just one game back in the NL West, which is by no means terrible. We finish the home stand with three series wins and an overall 7-3 record, so can hit the road in good heart and with optimism in our stride.
Heroes and Villains
Series 31: vs. Colorado, at home
L.Gonzalez: 7-for-13, 3 RBI
Quentin: 3-for-5, 4 RBI, 2 doubles, HR
E.Gonzalez: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3 ER
Cruz: 4 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 ER
Julio: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 ER
Honorary mention to Hudson, who went 6-for-11. Normally, that would have been enough to get a mention, but we should reward EnGon for his longest outing of the season. Above him, what is there to say about Quentin's start? It's been beyond all we could have anticipated, and so far it seems to be apparent that we can trade Gonzo or Green - hell, both of them! - and not worry about the outfield. Speaking of Gonzo, though, much credit for letting his bat do the talking. He hasn't let his concerns over his situation affect his play; indeed, he seems to have been going harder at it, if anything.
In what was generally a well-played series, two areas of pitching gave cause for concern. Though Cruz struck out six in his four innings of work, he has not been the same player since coming back off the DL. He has lasted a total of only seventeen innings, in four start. It may be time to look at returning him to the bullpen, whence he came - but if so, who do we use as his replacement? EdGon? Nippert? Hell, maybe Micah Owings? Given that we are still very much in the NL West hunt, these are not meaningless starts, so it would bear some careful consideration.
And then there's Julio. He was, to some extent, a victim of misfortune and defensive indifference, with the first two hits being infield ones. But this was not exactly the commanding performance that inspires confidence for the upcoming road-trip. At least he will get a day off tomorrow, though I imagine Melvin will be disappointed that he can't run him out there again immediately - gotta put him back on the horse right away, y'know...
Finally, if you missed it in the GameDay Thread, a round of applause for the Tucson Sidewinders, who demolished - and there is absolutely no other word for it - the Salt Lake Bees, by a score of 28-5. Yes, you read that correctly: twenty-eight. Here's the boxscore. Chris Young and Brian Barden each had grand slams, Robbie Hammock went 5-for-6 with 5 RBIs, while Callaspo and Weber also had five hit nights. Micah Owings (unsurprisingly, given he got twenty runs of support!) got the victory, to run his record for the Sidewinders to 7-0. And don't forget, that's with two of their stars, Drew and Quentin, no longer with the club.