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AZ 5, Giants 3 - Double your pleasure...

Record: 58-56. Change on last season: +4

"A groundball here, a groundball there..."
    -- Miguel Batista

How much do I love Mrs. SnakePit? We had tickets for tonight's game, but I just got back from Champions on Ice at Glendale Arena instead. Fortunately, I am comfortable and secure enough in my heterosexuality to have withstood this barrage of sequins and flamboyant gestures, despite moments where I felt an inexplicable leaning towards interior design and the innovative use of stencils. 8-) However, must admit when ice-skating was used as a basis for, say, acrobatics or comedy, the results were actually pretty damn impressive. Though I was disappointed no fights broke out: we decided they should have roller-derby on ice some time.

Meanwhile, Miguel Batista managed an act of legerdemain [today's two-bit word] unparalleled even by his high standards. Twelve hits and a walk in six innings, but only two earned runs? This was extreme, but not without general precedent - on June 15, he allowed three runs over six innings on ten hits and two walks. That was against the Giants as well, and they seem to love facing Batista - here are his gamelogs this season against them:

               IP  H  R ER BB  K BF  NP
Apr 17 (Home) 5.0 11  7  6  2  6 29 107
Apr 28 (Away) 4.1 10  6  6  2  1 24  71
Jun 15 (Home) 6.0 10  4  3  2  6 29  94
Aug 09 (Home) 6.0 12  2  2  1  1 27  78

Or put another way, in 20 starts against other teams this year, only once has Batista allowed 10+ hits [June 20, in Tampa]. The Giants, however, are 4-for-4 there and are batting .439 against him this year. Wow. He's clearly not fooling them, and they're not hanging around, averaging only 3.2 pitches/batter. Tonight was, again, extreme: Miggy faced 27 Giants hitters, threw just 78 pitches and only 52 strikes. And we thought we had some free-swinging hackers.

But tonight, let's be honest: his ass was saved by his defense, as Arizona turned a franchise-record five double plays, four with Batista on the mound. "He induced them," said Melvin - perhaps giving his starter a little too much credit. Though it's certainly true Batista's control was much better this time round, and he only walked one, rather than the seven in his previous outing. He said, vaguely, "My last game I had some physical problems that were getting me away from getting the ball in play. So far, it looks like it's been fixed. I felt so much better today."

Meanwhile, we scored five runs again, starting with a Tracy RBI in the first. LuGon smacked a homer in the fifth, after Batista doubled, making it 3-1, and we added single runs in the seventh and eighth. Though perhaps a key play was Quentin's fabulous climb of the wall in the top of the seventh, which robbed the Giants of a homer which could have changed the momentum of the whole game. Chad Tracy had three hits, while Byrnes and Hudson added a pair each - the Giants solidly out-hit the D'backs, 15-11.

Pena whizzed through the seventh on ten pitches - Lyon went one better in the eighth, even if he allowed two hits and a run, as well as getting the fifth double-play. Julio came in for the ninth, in a save situation this time: the leadoff man reached second with no outs, but Jorge came back to strike out pinch-hitter Bonds with a thoroughly-unexpected change-up, in what might be his final plate appearance ever at Chase Field. Winn grounded out, and Vizquel fanned to end the game, and give Arizona both the game and the series.

Thanks to TheMainMan [interesting info on the line for tonight's game], suitsmetoATnT, VIII and William K for their comments, while I watched lithe, scantily-clad women cavorting for my pleasure - hey, that'll do my street-cred a lot more good than saying "while I watched ice-skating". ;-) With the Dodgers eventually deciding it's fair to let their opponents win one game in twelve, and the Padres going down in New York, it's tighter than a Spandex jumpsuit in the West: just 1/2 game separates those three teams. We have a day off tomorrow, but Padres and Dodgers losses would still see us move into a tie for first place.

Today's interesting stat: there are just two teams in the National League better than four games above .500 [Mets and Cardinals]. In the American League, the East and Central divisions each have three such teams. Anyone still think the NL has a chance of winning the World Series? While the Mets might be able to stand up to the junior circuit, I can't see anyone else having a prayer. And, I note, Oakland are currently leading their division, despite a negative run differential.

Livan Hernandez arrived in Arizona today, and in an unusual move, will be occupying the #2, 3, 4 and 5 slots in the rotation, as well as being available out of the bullpen for Webb starts. :-) Or does it just seem that way? I am, however, somewhat perplexed by the training methods described in this article:

The reason he is able to pitch all those innings, he says, is because he puts in the time during the offseason to build his endurance through an extensive cardiovascular regimen that includes kickboxing and spinning classes. "I do a lot of things different from other people," he said."

No kidding. Anyway, to make room for Hernandez v2.0, Jeff Bajenaru is being sent back down to Tucson - which would also help save him from the mob of enraged D'back fans with torches, still hunting him after Monday's horrid performance. [As an aside, this currently gives Bajenaru the #3 slot, with a bullet, in our 10 Least Significant All-Time Diamondbacks] It still has not been decided which starter will be moved: Vargas was available in relief out of the bullpen tonight, but that doesn't mean much.

In minor bits and pieces, DaVanon and Jackson were both available to pinch-hit tonight, so hopefully should be fully available for the Marlins series which starts Friday. Andy Green starts a rehab stint in Tucson on Saturday, which will keep him busy until rosters expand on September 1st; it seems likely a similar plan is intended for Tony Clark, and perhaps even Craig Counsell. Randy Choate and Mike Koplove both cleared waivers, and are back with the Sidewinders.

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Today: Two-4-One Night at Chase Field