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AZ 0, Giants 5 - That Sinking Feeling

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Record: 62-63. Change on last season: +4

"When you make more errors than you get hits, you're going to have a difficult time winning the game."
    -- The Tao of BoMel, Koan 435

Eight games into this road trip, we have scored a total of 26 runs - that's the same number as the Yankees scored on Friday - and nine of those came in one game. Twelve runs in the past five contests; just eight in the past 38 innings. Our lengthy streak of games with an extra-base hit comes to an abrupt halt, as we suffer our first shutout since a 5-0 loss to the Mets on June 10, and we go below .500 for the first time in over a month. Any playoff hopes now seem distant and possessing the solidity of a mirage, as seen through the wrong end of binoculars.

We managed two hits. Two. And one of those may well be taken away in the cold light of day, when the Giants' official scorer lifts his (or her - let's be fair) head off the crack pipe, since it should definitely have been an error on Durham. We had exactly one chance to score, in the seventh inning, when we loaded the bases on Hudson's "hit"/error, a walk to Gonzalez, and a plunk of Quentin's back foot on an 0-2 pitch.

Ah, yes: the line we're already getting used to seeing in box-scores: "Quentin hit by pitch." We knew this was likely, but no-one on the D'backs has more than 7 HBP's this year. Carlos already has four in just 78 plate appearances, better than once every 20 times he comes to the plate. It may be early days, but so far Q's approaching the rate of the most-regularly plunked recent player with ten or more drillings - journeyman outfielder Mike Kinkade, who got hit 28 times in 491 PA's. [If you want a longer career, Craig Wilson has 86 HBPs in 2193 PA's, or once every 25.5 PA's]

At that rate, Quentin will replace Luis Gonzalez as the franchise leader (Gonzo has 61) for drillings, as early as the first half of 2009. Should you be interested, Greg Colbrunn is the D'backs rate leader, with 18 in 861 at-bats, but that's only half as often as Quentin to date. And should you really be interested, the anti-Quentin is Travis Lee, who was not hit once during 1,306 plate appearances in an Arizona jersey.

The game? Oh, yeah: sorry. Tracy popped out to end the seventh inning with the bases loaded. Those three men that we left on base were the only three men that we left on base, as well as being the sole occasion we got anyone past first-base. When you are 0-for-1 in a game with runners in scoring position, you're probably not going to win - both the "0" and the "1" are serious indicators of a lack of significant offense.

Our fielding also sucked, with errors by Hernandez, Hudson and Tracy leading to three unearned runs for the Giants. Grim stuff, yet certain broadcasters regularly continue to trot out the myth that our defense is in some way special. Even using the rawest figures imaginable - errors or fielding percentage - the 75 we've committed is second-most in the NL West, and only 6th best in the league. Using the broader, better measure of Defensive Efficiency Ratio, we rank twenty-ninth in the majors, converting 68.86% of balls put into play to outs.

Which makes it all the more inexcusable that perhaps our slickest-fielding player, Stephen Drew - who has totally blown away all worries about his glovework thus far - was benched, and replaced by Damion Easley. Easley went 0-for-3, is now batting .214 on the year, and a princely .138 (4-for-29) in August. Fortunately, Counsell should return very shortly, and Easley will be lucky to see any playing time thereafter. Was expecting Craig back on the roster today, but apparently he tweaked his hamstring so they decided to give him a break. I imagine Callaspo will be the odd man out on the roster, though it would be better if they DFA'd Easley.

The poor defense, and almost complete lack of offense, wasted what was easily Hernandez's best start of his Arizona career thus far [okay, we're only talking three to date]. For the third game in a row, our starter pitched seven innings and allowed only one earned run - in this case, a splashdown homer by 'Roidman. Hernandez scattered eight hits and walked two, but also struck out seven and threw a very economical 93 pitches. It was nice to see the forgotten man of the bullpen, Juan Cruz, in the eighth, though he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits.

Thanks to Just Me [hope your family didn't taunt you too much!], VIII, suitsmetoATnT, azdb7 and Ben for their comments, during what was a hammer-blow to our postseason chances, especially with the Padres and Reds both winning today (though at least the former beat the Dodgers, so we lost no ground to Los Angeles in the NL West, at least). Any chance of the Diamondbacks winning the series now requires Edgar Gonzalez to come out ahead of AZ's nemesis, Jason Schmidt, on Wednesday. Funnily enough, this prospect does not fill me with optimism...

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Today: Errors 3, Hits 2