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AZ 8, Astros 7 - Fourth time's the charm...

Record: 52-50. Change on last season: +4

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in "Silver Blaze"

Three times, Arizona took the lead. Three times, Houston came back to tie the game - though never taking the lead themselves. But finally, in the eleventh inning, Luis Gonzalez double to lead off, and came home on a sacrifice fly by J-strada. Then, Tony Pena did another of his, by now almost standard, double-barrelled win/save outings, first removing the head and then destroying the brain of the Thing From Texas That Wouldn't Die.

He got the victory for his scoreless tenth inning, and was then left in for the eleventh - in the latter he did allow a single to rookie Luke Scott, who completed his "reverse natural" cycle [Homer, triple, double, single - in that order] in only his 45th major-league game. However, the question that results is similar to the famous one from a Sherlock Holmes story, which leads off this entry: what is significant is what didn't happen.

Less the dog here, of course, than the closer who did nothing in the night-time. A one-run lead, and Julio hadn't pitched in three days? Why was he not brought in? Leaving Pena out there was a very, very interesting choice by Melvin: the general opinion in the comments seemed to be that it was the right one though, and it all worked out for the best in the end. But does this mean Jorge Jorrible is no longer the closer of choice? And if so, has some injury been detected, triggering the sudden switch?

As noted, that was the only one of the four leads the Diamondbacks had, which they didn't blow. They were also up 3-0 in the fourth, 4-3 in the fifth and 7-4 in the seventh, but the Astros just wouldn't die, even as we pounded out seventeen hits. Again, we left double-digits on base, and we only managed two walks in 49 plate-appearances, both being worked by leadoff man, DaVanon. He does, at least, seem to have developed a decent grasp of what's required from the position, namely getting on base.

Hudson went 4-for-5, Jackson 3-for-6, and LuGon, Tracy and Drew all had two-hit days. Perhaps the most remarkable at-bat was, however, Carlos Quentin, who came off the bench in the seventh to smack a two-run pinch-hit homer. In just sixteen at-bats, he has four homers, nine RBIs, and is batting .375 and slugging 1.250. There are seventy major-league players with 4+ homers this month; only six have less than sixty at bats; only Carlos has less than forty...

Enrique Gonzalez struggled a bit, but got through six innings (the innings saved from the bullpen could prove critical the rest of the series). He allowed ten hits and a walk, but the only real blow of significance was Scott's three-run homer that wiped out our first lead of the game. Choate and Medders allowed two earned runs in the seventh, and Lyon blew the third lead in the eighth. However, that was an unearned run thanks to a Drew error, and he also pitched a scoreless ninth to help redeem himself.

Thanks to all those who joined me in the comments - though initially, I was wondering if everyone else had gone to Las Vegas, to the point of asking npineda if he could see the GameDay thread! However, Q's big blast brought things to life, with William K, npineda, andrewinnewyork and Ben for their presence. Not perhaps the best of performances, but an important one on a day when both San Diego and San Francisco lost, so we're 1.5 back in the division race. As noted, we can now beat either Oswalt or Clemens to take the series, rather than having to defeat both - that certainly wouldn't have been a prospect I viewed with much enthusiasm...

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Today: Four leads and a victory