Record: 62-65. Change on last season: +4
Told you we'd lose. Though, I admit, the loss came in a somewhat unexpected fashion: for a couple of innings there, it was looking possible that we'd finally get to Schmidt. The six runs which we tagged him with today, is as many as we've hung on him in 24 starts against us, going back more than seven years. On August 22nd, 1999, we also scored six, five of which came in the first, thanks mostly to a three-run homer from Gonzo.
Today, we only got one there, an RBI groundout with the bases loaded by Estrada. But the lead didn't last long, and it looked like we were in deep trouble right away, as EnGon allowed four runs in the bottom of the frame, on an RBI single to 'Roidman, followed by a three-run long bomb from Durham. That, it seemed, would be it, as Arizona were retired in order during the second and third innings. However, some good two-out hitting by the new boys levelled the game: first, Drew drove in Tracy with a double, and then Chris Young smacked Schmidt's first offering into center-field for his debut major-league home run. Hope he got that one back.
It seems we only woke up with two outs today. In the sixth, we were down to our final out when Drew singled and Young walked. Then Counsell, making his first appearance off the DL, wasted no time, and was hit by the first pitch he saw [actually, "hit" implies some degree of force - make that "kissed" or "caressed"] to load them up again. And Byrnes came through, becoming the fourth straight hitter to reach with two outs, delivering a two-run single. That made it Arizona 6, San Francisco 4, and with Schmidt getting yanked for a pinch-hitter, his long unbeaten streak against the Diamondbacks looked in serious doubt.
That, however, reckoned without our bullpen's ability to squander almost any lead. They were forced into action early, since Enrique Gonzalez lasted only four innings and sixty-five pitches before getting the hook from Melvin. Seven hits, a walk and four earned runs were the result of this disappointing performance, which reinforced our need for some more reliable starting pitching. Actually, the way things have gone lately, the word "more" could be removed from that sentence, and result in greater accuracy: any reliable starting pitching would be welcome.
Cruz allowed two walks, but posted a zero in the fifth. Then Vizcaino flattered to deceive, getting through the sixth with minimal trouble. He even got two out in the seventh: Sweeney singled, and took second on a lackadaisical handling of Bonds' fly-ball in center by Young. Finley was deliberately walked, and Lyon came in to replace Vizcaino. Double. Triple. See that lead, the one quietly slinking out the door at PacAT&TEbayBigMacLand Park? That was once ours, that was...
Meanwhile, we mustered exactly one base-runner in three innings against the Giants bullpen, and even Benitez posted a 1-2-3 ninth against us, in sharp contrast to last night [You could feel the love rolling around McCovey Cove...or maybe it was just a huge wave of relief?] We lost by exactly the same score as yesterday, neither starter was involved in either decision, and the go-ahead hit for the Giants was even provided by the same man, rookie Eliezer Alfonzo. Our bullpen's record in August is now 1-6, though their ERA is overall not so awful, at 4.54 - it would, however, be almost a run higher if you took away their 12 shutout innings in the sole victory, that Coors Field marathon.
We managed nine hits, almost evenly spread: every starter bar Jackson, but including EnGon, had one or more - Drew had two and, I'm pleased to report, avoiding striking out, for only the ninth time in thirty-four appearances [he fanned in sixteen of his first seventeen games]. Thanks to andrewinnewyork, johngordonma, 4CornersFan and the late-arriving suitsmetoATnT for their comments - the road-trip ends a disappointing 3-7.
Doesn't look like we'll lose any ground, as the Reds lost, and the Dodgers are down in the sixth to San Diego, but this will give the Padres and other teams (like the surging Phillies) a chance to narrow the gap. And finally, spare a thought for Kansas City fans: the Royals may be on target for 100+ losses, but boy, do they know how to go down in style. They scored ten runs in the first inning today against Cleveland...and still lost, 15-13, giving up four in the ninth and a couple more in the tenth. That, my friends, is style. Heroes and Zeroes to follow tomorrow: got to have something to write about on the off day!
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Today: Ahead! Behind! Ahead! Behind!