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AZ 4, Rockies 8 - Aces Fly

Record: 61-60. Change on last season: +5

It's safe to say that today's game didn't go quite as expected. The good feeling which I had, started whistling and shuffling its feet, as soon as Tracy committed his twentieth error of the season, hurling a simple groundout into the stands over Jackson's head. [I blame the thin air. :-(] These came on the back of two walks and a double steal, meaning that Colorado took a 2-0 lead without having a single hit.

And G.Feeling, Esq. made for the exit entirely, muttering to itself about another appointment, the next time the Rockies came to bat. Colorado opted to bypass the whole infield issue, simply by smacking Webb into the air and going deep. The second inning resulted in a lead-off home-run, swiftly followed by three doubles to the wall, while left our ace in an extremely un-acelike 6-0 hole after two innings, looking for the number of the truck. What chance did we have after that?

Actually, we had chances. Notably in the sixth inning, with the bases loaded, nobody out, and the tying run at the plate. In addition, the Rockies had been forced to lift the Fogg (ha!) and go to their bullpen. But Hudson swung at the first pitch, lining out to left - Jackson came home and was apparently safe by the time the ball arrived, yet was called out. The inning ended meekly, with Rockies pitcher Corpas having got three outs on three pitches, and possibly saved the victory for his starter. [He also went 1-2-3 in the seventh, taking 15 pitches to get through two complete innings]

We had the tying run at the plate again with no outs in the eighth inning, but Green took a hack at ball four, Hudson swung at the first offering and popped it up, while Drew hit a grounder back to the mound. I lost count of how many times D'backs hitters made an out on the first pitch, which is something I find hard to justify. If it's the right pitch in the right location, that's one thing, but most of the time, these weren't unlucky outs - balls hit hard but straight at fielders - but groundouts or weak pop-ups. It seemed a lot more like bad plate discipline than anything else.

Overall, we had one more hit than Colorado, 10-9, but only two of their hitters stopped at first-base, and the seven free passes we handed them didn't help. Jackson, Estrada and Green all had two hits - and Estrada even had a walk in back-to-back appearances. Okay, I get the hint, Johnny: I will retire the Estrada Walk Watch, after a meteoric trip across the firmament of AZ SnakePit. Don't make me bring it back! For the second day in a row, slots 1-7 in the batting order all had a hit, but the closer we got to breaking through, the worse our at-bats became.

Horrible start for Webb. He just didn't seem "right", and the results were obvious. In five innings, he walked five (albeit two intentionally) and allowed eight hits, six of them for extra bases. These resulted in seven runs, five earned, and brought Webb his fifth loss. The five walks tied a career high, not seen since September 28, 2004, while I think the six extra-base hits were also a worst for Webb. It's definitely a concern, to see Webb being lit up like this, in both outings since his start was skipped. Fingers crossed it is just coincidence. Pardon me if I say this to reassure myself, as much as anything.

One final note: remarkably, not one of the thirty-one batters he faced was retired on a fly-ball. Valverde came in to replace Webb for the seventh inning, and he was impressive there, retiring the Rockies in order. However, it was more like the old, bad version of Papa Grande in the eighth, as he allowed a run on a hit, a hit batter and two walks, and escaped with the bases loaded. He threw 46 pitches, the most in an outing since a 48-pitch outing, all the way back on April 12, 2004 - coincidentally, also at Coors Field.

I suppose I should be happy with a split of the road series, but I can't help feeling disappointed. We should have closed this one out with a win, and if we'd hit a little better, pitched a bit better or even been capable of throwing to first-base, we'd have had a significantly greater chance. It wastes a great chance to gain ground on everyone: the Dodgers weren't playing, while the Padres and Reds both lost. Instead, we drop half a game on LA, and the wild-card race tightens a little further [The Phillies are the latest on a charge, and are 2.5 games back]

Thanks to those who showed up for this: andrewinnewyork, Just Me and VIII. It's understandable if I was largely ploughing a lone furrow after the second inning, seeing Webb get smacked around and the ineffectiveness of our hitters would have been enough to suck the life out of the most enthusiastic fans. I'll get the Heroes and Zeroes up tomorrow, I think: still have to write up the wrestling report from last night for their site, and my British pal Damien is coming over for a beer or two.

Couple of bits of minor news concerning ex-Diamondbacks. Oscar Villarreal started for Atlanta today, and pitched five innings of one-hit ball for the win. That was only his second-ever start, the first being for us, on April 8, 2003. Hell, I didn't realise we were giving an ace to Atlanta. :-) And Brian Bruney - remember him? - got called up by the Yankees, just in time for their massive five-game series with the Red Sox over the weekend. Expect him to be escorted out of town by a mob of torch-carrying New Yorkers before Sunday.