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AZ 8, Rockies 7 - The Late, Late, Late, Late, Late Show

Record: 42-45. Change on last season: 0

Truly a game of two halves. Or, rather: a game of eight-ninths which was a pitching duel par excellence, and then a final inning where the Coors Field that had been all but absent for the last game and a half, suddenly roared back in full force. To illustrate this, here's a chart comparing the stats for the first eight innings, with the carnage that ensued - both on field and at AZ SnakePit - as both teams tried to get those pesky last three outs:

              Front 8    9th inning
Pitches         209          87
Batters          55          23
Hits             10          11
Walks             2           4
Runs              2          13
Comments         42          54

This is really a game that the Diamondbacks not so much "won", as they survived. What should have been a comfortable and satisfying comeback victory, turned into the implosion of our shaky bullpen, courtesy of Aquino and Julio. After a shaky start - walking Carroll and giving up a double to Quintanilla - Aquino seemed to settle down, striking out the Rockies' two main threats, Helton and Holliday to put us one out from victory. But, even though the Rockies were still 8-1 down, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the game was far from over.

  • Atkins was hit by a pitch.
  • Hawpe infield single to second, Carroll scored, Quintanilla to third, Atkins to second
  • Torrealba doubled to center, Quintanilla scored, Atkins scored, Hawpe scored
    Julio pitching
  • Sullivan safe at third on DaVanon's error, Torrealba scored
  • Gonzalez walked.
  • On Julio's wild pitch, Sullivan scored, Gonzalez to second
  • Carroll walked on a full count
  • Quintanilla struck out

And about time too. Finally, at the seventh attempt - after two hits, two walks, an error and a hit batter - we coaxed a Colorado hitter into giving us an out. Not the greatest victory in the history of victories, but it counts the same in the standings as if Aquino had pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. It's ironic that the headline on an mlb.com piece tonight was Bullpen finding the groove. Laugh? Why, I oughta...

The disaster does overshadow a couple of important facts, not least that we scored seven runs in the top of the ninth innings ourselves, sending twelve to the plate. The big blast was Chad Tracy's grand slam into the Rockies bullpen - his 13th homer of the season - but the RBIs by DaVanon, Byrnes and Shawn Green proved equally important in the end, though at the time they seemed little more than icing.

For once, we got good production from the heart of the order, #3-5 going a combined 7-for-14. Jackson led the way with three hits, flanked by Green and Tracy with a pair each; Byrnes, in the two-hole, also added a couple. However, DaVanon's second day in the leadoff spot didn't go so well; though he did drive in a run with a sac.fly, he went 0-for-3 with 3 K's. Counsell continued his rejuvenation at the bottom of the order, going 3-for-4 with a crucial, game-tying home-run off the foul-pole, to lock it up at one apiece in the eighth.

Yes, given how this ended, it's hard to believe that the Rockies had a 1-0 lead going into the eighth. Webb and Jason Jennings put on a pitching clinic, and ran the combined scoreless streak at Coors to 20 innings before an infield single gave Colorado the lead. The Rockies were having the better of the game at that point, and had almost gone ahead the inning before; only fine defense by Byrnes and Estrada stopping Carroll from scoring on a sacrifice fly by Helton. [Estrada also shot down two base-stealers] Webb went seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out six, but despite allowing just the one run, was in line for the loss until Counsell's homer.

In the long run, a win's a win, and this atrocity is balanced by five shutout frames last night. Over the two games, they've thrown seven innings and allowed four earned runs, a 5.14 ERA. not so far off the 4.75 ERA the relief corps has posted over the season to date. However, I think my heart would prefer it if they did not appear to arrange their performances in the most heart-stopping ways possible. But they say the mark of a good team is to be victorious, even when playing badly: over the past two days, we've cut it very, very fine as far winning performances go!

Thanks to the commentators on the game - kylerkenney, William K, Wimb (you missed an "interesting" game!), andrewinnewyork, unnamedDBacksfan, icecoldmo, azdb7, dahlian, IndyDBack and Devin for chipping in...mostly during that ninth inning! Boy, I can't wait to see the FanGraph for this one... Preview for tomorrow to follow soon: as Devin mentioned, it's been a weird series thus far. wonder what the finale will hold?

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