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AZ 6, Phillies 5 - Post Road-trip Catch-up, Part I

Record: 51-48. Change on last season: +4

Back from Vegas: "poorer but wiser", as they say. Highlight was probably the Venetian upgrading us from a "suite" to a SUITE (1,500 sq.ft, jacuzzi, three TV sets, phone in the toilet, the works), but the Phantom of the Opera show they put on there is also pretty damn spectacular - and I speak as someone whose tolerance for musicals usually stretches no further than My Fair Lady [Rex Harrison is god, and Audrey Hepburn may be the second most beautiful woman of all time. I'm sitting next to the most, of course. :-)] We had a blast.

However, points are knocked off for the Venetian's Sports Book, which refused to take my wager on the D'backs winning the 2008 World Series. Which may be the first time I've heard of a casino refusing to take someone's money... In the absence of the MegaBucks jackpot [we tried - $12m being the current figure - but the closest we came was $250 from a Wheel of Fortune slot-machine in Treasure Island], it's back to Phoenix with us, to find the D'backs play having been not much more jackpot-worthy than our own. I was going to do this as one supermegaomnibusdeath update, but I might as well break it up into more digestible chunks...

So when I left, Miguel Batista had dug Arizona a 3-0 hole in the first inning of the series opener against the Phillies, and things were looking pretty grim. However, more by luck than good judgement, we ended up winning that one in eleven innings. I say that, since by all reports, it was not a well-played game at all, featuring errors, base-running blunders, bad umpiring calls, and Jorge Jorrible blowing his second consecutive save opportunity. [The Closer Alert Status is now officially raised to AMBER]

However, Carlos Quentin smacked his third homer in seventeen major-league at-bats in the 11th, to give us the lead, and Tony Pena made it stand up, pitching one-hit ball over the tenth and eleventh inning to get his first victory as a D'back. Those are both good, positive things we could take from this one. However, does that outweigh failures like the fact this shouldn't have gone more than nine innings? We had the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth, but failed to score. After scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth on a Phillies error, we had the bases loaded and no-one out there too, but couldn't do any more than that.

All told, we were a pitiful 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position; though Quentin got his first stolen base, that was more a gift from the umpire than anything. And Batista and Estrada both got thrown out: the former at home after running through a stop sign, the latter (who, unlike Batista, should really know better) at second trying to stretch a single. Hell, opposing starter Madsen even donated four wild pitches in one inning - something not done in the NL since knuckleballer Phil Niekro in 1979. [Oddly, know who the last Phillies pitcher was to throw four in a game, on April 15, 1991? Jason Grimsley...]

Batista settled down after the first, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks, but fanning six. However, some slack is warranted, since he only learned on Monday that his grandmother had died. He's since headed back to the Dominican Republic for the funeral, but it's anticipated that he'll be back with the team in time for his scheduled start on Sunday in Houston.

Medders and Lyon pitched hitless innings, though the latter walked two Phillies, before Julio blew the save in the ninth, on two hits and a walk. Offensively, LuGon, Tracy and Estrada had two hits apiece - Gonzo also drew two walks, as did leadoff man Byrnes, but Hudson took the patience prize for the night, with three free passes. It was a win, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it scroll across the ESPN ticker in our room, but a closer post-mortem reveals it was far from a good performance.

However, it was nice to match our entire 2004 win total before reaching the one-hundredth game of the season this year. Thanks to DiamondbacksWIn, flyingdutchman, andrewinnewyork, npineda, Wimb, TheMainMan, frienetic and William K for posting in my absence. Andrew gets the Nostradamus prize, for saying, "Anyone want to place an over-under bet on runners stranded this game?" The final tally was a startling twenty-eight: 16 by Arizona, 12 by Philadelphia. Who had the over?

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Today: Carlos "Jackals" the Victory