Record: 60-59. Change on last season: +4
"It's the greatest 1-for-8 he's ever had."
-- Eric Byrnes, on Luis Gonzalez
Humidor or not, Coors Field still seems to be a place where our bullpen fears to tread. Though last night, it was not for the traditional reason, of a starter throwing batting practice, but because the teams combined to post twenty-four consecutive zeroes on the board, between the Rockies tying the game in the bottom of the fifth, and the D'backs taking the lead on an RBI single by Gonzalez, in the top of the eighteenth. There were 15 arms used, 514 pitches thrown, and it took five hours, 21 minutes, finishing at 12:26 a.m.
The game was thirty-two minutes shorter than the other 18-inning game we've played, but ties the innings record for the longest game by innings in Arizona history. It matches the famous 1-0 win over the Giants on May 29, 2001, which took 5:53, and was won by Miguel Batista with four innings of relief. Durazo drove in the winning run there in the 18th with a double, and Swindell got the save, despite loading the bases with one out. [Last night is easily the record for Colorado, who'd never before played more than 15. And with the Cubs beating the Astros in 18, it was the first time in major-league history we had two such lengthy games on the same day.]
A 2-1 victory perhaps won't quite go into D'backs lore the same way, but it was still very, very impressive work by Arizona's relievers, who posted the following line:
Bullpen: 12 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 0 R, 0 ER
So a hearty "Well done!" to Vizcaino, Lyon, Cruz, Valverde, Pena, Julio and Medders. In particular, nice to see Papa Grande back (Aquino went on the DL yesterday), and apparently effective, with two innings of one-hit ball. But most credit goes to Medders, who was last man out and threw a career-high three innings, and 39 pitches (he did throw 43 on May 4th this year against the Cubs), allowing just one walk while fanning four.
Enrique Gonzalez, who pitched Sunday, was warming up just in case, but wasn't needed. According to Melvin, Medders and Pena are the only members of the bullpen who will be unavailable for use today, but I'd be surprised to see, certainly Julio (33 pitches), and probably Valverde (23) too, taking the mound unless it is absolutely necessary. The Rockies used all their pitchers bar one (whom I'll get to in a minute), but they got eight innings from their starter, so Affeldt and Ramirez are likely their sole absentees for the game tonight.
The one not used was Jose Mesa, who blew the lead Monday, and then drilled Luis Gonzalez. He's also the main reason why Craig Counsell is on the DL, since it was his pitch that fractured Counsell's rib back in July. [Stephen Drew was recently seen roaming the aisles at Hallmark, looking for a "I feel kinda guilty, but thank you" card he could send Mesa...] Interesting quote from Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle, especially since their best slugger, Matt Holliday, was forced to sit out the game last night, after being hit by Vargas on Monday:
That came on the heels of six solid-enough innings from Miguel Batista: the Rockies tagged him for seven hits and two walks, but the only run came on a double-play in the fifth. I was a little surprised Melvin pulled Batista after only 86 pitches - if he'd known it was going to go 18 innings, he might have left him in for another frame or two. However, we did have two men on and one out when Batista's spot came up in the seventh, so pinch-hitting made some sense. On the other hand, using Shawn Green, currently the most slumptastic man on the roster, probably didn't - and, lo, he promptly hit into a double-play.
Offensively, as you can imagine, it was less of a laudable performance, as the team collectively hit .190 on the night (12-for-63). Every starter did get a hit bar Carlos Quentin (who saw his batting average drop 28 points in one night), but there were a bunch of 1-for-6/7/8 nights. Luis Gonzalez had one hit in eight at-bats, but since that was the RBI single in the eighteenth, I am inclined to forgive him. Tracy continued his success against Colorado, as noted yesterday, going 3-for-7, while Byrnes also had three hits and Conor Jackson had a couple.
I'd like to say hello to Johnny Estrada, who clearly reads this blog. Mere hours after we write a long article bringing attention to his walkless tendencies, he goes out there and, in his second at-bat, got his first unintentional pass in almost four months. Still think I'm going to keep the Estrada Walk Watch open a little longer, until he proves this was not an accident. I am also now writing an article on how long it has been since Vargas threw a no-hitter. Just a heads-up, Claudio. ;-)
Apologies to anyone who came here looking for the Gameday Thread, which finally showed up in the 16th inning. I was rushing out the door, and closed the Internet connection before the final publication had completed, so the post was left as "hidden". The people concerned have been flogged with a wet copy of Diamondbacks Magazine, and will be cleaning out Baxter's Den to complete their punishment. Thanks to npineda and icecoldmo, who still managed to post comments, despite my best efforts to prevent them!
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Today: The Longest Day
The Dodgers continue on their amazing roll - what is it now, 17-1? They're 3.5 games ahead of us and the Padres, and Baseball Prospectus now gives them an 82% chance of making the playoffs, one way or another. Despite the win, which brings us one game behind Cincinnati in the wild-card race, Arizona is down at one in six, well behind San Diego (43%) and Cincinnati (37%). This sequence of thirteen games against our divisional rivals will probably go a very long way to establishing whether or not our players can start booking their fishing trips for October.
Finally, the Diamondbacks came to an agreement with Jason Grimsley regarding his salary: it will be paid by the team, but it being given to four charities. The lucky recipients are Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation, Christ Community Church in Kansas, the Diamondbacks Foundation and - oh, the irony - Drug-Free Arizona. Of course, it could be said that Grimsley leaving the state would be a big step forward in the achievements of the last organization...