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AZ 3, Rockies 4 - The Rockies Horror Pitcher Show...

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Record: 59-59. Change on last season: +3

A more artistically-adept blogger than I would lead off this article with a nicely-Photoshopped picture of Tony Pena or Brandon Medders in corset and fishnets. Aren't you really, really glad I am better with words than graphics software? So I'll simply leave you with the mental image, as the recently-maligned [by Ben, anyway!] Eric Byrnes contrived to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, our bullpen then failed to post a zero in two successive innings, letting Colorado first tie, then win the game.

Apart from certain members of the bullpen, there's a whole bunch of places that blame could be placed for this one. Our defense, which committed two errors for the third game in a row? Check - Tracy and Easley were the perps today, the former's botch leading to the Rockies' second run. An offense that mustered only six hits in 32 at-bats and a solitary walk? Check - through the first seven innings, we had one man reach second base, Byrnes again, on a double. Snyder was the other hitter to reach safely twice, singling and getting our only base on balls.

Oh, and could you also add to the list, a starting pitcher who wobbled between brilliant and horrible? Check. Vargas pitched into the seventh, allowing only one earned run, on six hits, didn't walk anyone, and fanned six Colorado hitters. On the surface, that was great, but here's what Vargas did each inning. You can also find this in the dictionary, next to "inconsistent":

  • 1st inning: Two men reached, on error and hit
  • 2nd inning: Retired the Rockies in order
  • 3rd inning: Loaded the bases on 2 hits and an HBP
  • 4th inning: Retired the Rockies in order
  • 5th inning: Run on two hits
  • 6th inning: Retired the Rockies in order
  • 7th inning: Unearned run on error, sacrifice, HBP, double

Vargas was then yanked, with men on second and third and one out, but Vizcaino fanned Atkins and Sullivan to keep Arizona in the game. I went to dinner, and missed all the excitement, as Arizona's slumbering lumber finally awoke in the eighth. We took the lead on Byrnes' three-run homer off the left-field pole, after Snyder walked, and pinch-hitter Hairston beat out an infield single.

One out later, LuGon was plunked by notorious "hitman" Jose Mesa - just ask Omar Vizquel. This was likely in retaliation for Vargas hitting Holliday in the wrist earlier, forcing him to be removed from the game. Initially, I thought it was odd how Gonzo is still the designated target for retaliation, since I reckoned he was far from the best hitter in the Arizona lineup. However, was surprised to find Luis's OPS of .851 is, at time of writing, actually the best among AZ players with 100+ at-bats this year. All those doubles are the main reason.

Anyway. In Coors, the benches cleared, words were exchanged, but fortunately, no punches were thrown - I say "fortunately", less because of any pacifist inclination, than because I'd have been most upset to miss seeing Arizona getting involved in a brawl. By the time I finished eating, Medders had blown the lead on two hits. We went down quietly in the ninth, and then Tony Pena coughed it up, allowing three hits and the winning run.

Possible managerial incompetence? Check. Questions do have to be asked about the decision for our right-handed pitcher being told to pitch to a left-handed hitter with two outs, a base open in the bottom of the ninth, and the losing run already on third. Though both men were 0-for-4 on the day, once Pena fell behind in the count to Hawpe, they should probably have walked him, setting up the force at any base, and moved on to Spilborghs. Hindsight is great, isn't it? :-)

As noted in the preview, the loss here was not unexpected, it's a shame that we had our chance to win and blew it. Vargas, though uneven, had one of his better outings, and hopefully he can build upon this, and keep us in the game for his other starts down the stretch. Thanks to npineda, William K, flyingdutchman and TheMainMan for their comments in a disappointing loss. With the Dodgers winning, Arizona now falls 2.5 games back of the Dodgers, and 1.5 of Cincinnati. We'll need to do better, particularly offensively, both the rest of the series, and for the road-trip.

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Today: Let's do the bullpen loss again...