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AZ 9, Dodgers 7 - Must Win Scenario

Record: 63-65. Change on last season: +5

In the (still unlikely) event that the Diamondbacks' season turns around, then this game would probably mark the watershed. This was a game that we couldn't afford to lose, and for most of the time it looked like defeat was inevitable. Before Hudson's walk-off shot in the bottom of the 15th inning, we had led the game for just four of the one hundred and thirty-seven batters that came to the plate. We were down 2-0 in the first, 6-3 in the fourth, and 7-6 in the 11th, and fought back all three times.

But equally, we had our chances to win this game too. We left twenty-one runners on base, which tied a franchise record. Here's a few samples of the chances we had to take charge of the game, but failed to do so:

  • 5th: Four hits - one run
  • 8th: Bases loaded, no-one out - one run
  • 11th: First and third, no-one out - one run
  • 13th: Bases loaded, no-one out - no runs
  • 14th: Bases loaded, one out - no runs

Do have to question Bob Melvin's management of the players though. It is not good, when you have to send up a pitcher (Hernandez 2.0) to pinch-hit for your pitcher (Pena) in only the 13th inning, because you've already used every position player out there. As azdb7 mentioned, wonder what would have happened if someone had been hurt, like Estrada? I presume a position player would have taken over behind the plate, with the rest being juggled and a pitcher occupying a defensively simple spot like 1B or, probably, LF.

I think the key was probably the bottom of the fifth, when our supposed "long reliever", Juan Cruz, was pulled for a pinch-hitter having thrown exactly four pitches. Counsell flied out to end the inning so in hindsight, Cruz certainly couldn't have done any worse. It does mean Cruz, along with Julio (9 pitches) are perhaps the only two pitchers we can definite use today. The pitch-counts for everone else were as follows: Pena 23; Medders 24; Vizcaino 26; Valverde 28; Lyon 31. However, the Dodgers are in a similar state, with four relievers having thrown 25+ pitches. I'm surprised they didn't use Joe Beimel, and left Sele out there for four innings, but I imagine he'll be available for them today.

A very poor outing for Vargas, who was hurt badly by the long-ball, giving up three homers in just 4.1 innings. In total, he allowed ten hits and six earned runs, so his competence over the past three starts is apparently illusory. However, the bullpen really pulled their socks up, allowing one run over 10.2 innings of work, on four hits and three walks. Particularly impressive were Tony Pena's two perfect innings, but Brandon Medders and Brandon Lyon were close behind, with one baserunner in their two innings each.

Lyon also deserves mention for his supreme plate discipline. In his first-ever turn at the plate in his major-league career - now spanning 165 games - he drew a walk, without which Hudson would not have come to the plate that inning. It puts Lyon in a very elite club: players who have scored a run in the majors, without having an official at-bat. I had a quick look at BaseballReference.com's list of players who played one game, and found the following players there who performed the feat [there may be others, likely pitchers like Lyon, but I've got no easy way to check]:

  1. Farmer Burns, 1901-07-06
  2. Con Starkel, 1906-04-19
  3. Earl Pruess, 1920-09-15
  4. Mel Kerr, 1925-09-16
  5. Owen Kahn, 1930-05-24
  6. Bob Daughters, 1937-04-24
  7. Hank Schmulbach, 1943-09-27
  8. Garth Mann, 1944-05-14
  9. John Corriden, 1946-04-20
  10. Otis Davis, 1946-04-22

Fortunately, Greg Maddux was similarly ineffective, giving up ten hits and two walks in five innings. All, told we had 20 hits, with six different D'backs having two or more. Standouts include Orlando Hudson and Conor Jackson (both 4-for-6 with two walks, and three/two RBIs respectively), while Stephen Drew had three hits. I'm also thinking that Eric Byrnes' nine at-bats is likely a franchise single-game record, since in the two 18-inning games in Diamondbacks history, nobody had more than eight. [Hudson also came to the plate nine times, but got credit for a sacrifice] Gonzo had a pair of doubles, moving him up to =23rd on the all-time list.

With the Padres and Reds joining the Dodgers in defeat, we moved a game up in both the NL West and Wild Card standings. And BP increases our chances of post-season play from one in twelve to...one in nine. Woot! :-) Thanks to those who chipped in with their comments last night: DiamondbacksWIn, azdb7, andrewinnewyork, jazzbo13 (who suggests tonight's giveaway should be a Chad Tracy bobblehand doll...), npineda, VIII, ASUJon and icecoldmo for popping in during this five-hour marathon. Those in attendance probably have no hearing left, thanks to the new sound system which, by most accounts, is at the level of The Who, circa 1970 Isle of Wight. [This may be an inexcusably British reference: think Woodstock UK]

Tony Clark came back off the DL to join the roster, with Alberto Callaspo's luck finally running out - though I'm sure Tucson will be happy to have him back as they push for the PCL title. Clark struck out pinch-hitting, but was perhaps a victim of the home-plate umpire amazing mutating strike-zone. Actually, our pinch-hitters in the game (including Estrada) went 0-for-6 with 3 K's and seven men left on base. Not quite the power off the bench we used to have, is it?

The Republic reports rumours that Thom Brennaman may be moving to Cincinnati, to work alongside his father in the radio booth there. However, these have been denied by Brennaman Sr, and his son still has three years left on his contract here. If they would only synch up the TV picture and the radio commentary, my life would be a lot better, but my paranoia tells me they do it deliberately, in order to force me to listen to Brennaman's love for Andre Ethier and rants about first-pitch hacking.

Though at least last night, I didn't hear him much. The merch table I was running in Chasers had a view of the TV set where the game was playing, and they did keep it on right to the end. However, I was so far away, I could see little more than what team was batting [and the occasional "that looks like Valverde pitching" moment]. I had to keep sneaking away across the bar to see the score, whether there were runners on base, etc. I need to get me a nice portable radio I can plug into my ear: hell, if they can make a phone you wear as an earpiece, can't they do that for a radio?

Anyway, better get this up, since we're going out this afternoon - get to spend some quality time with Mrs. SnakePit over the weekend, which has been sadly lacking the past few days. GameDay Thread to follow a little later, all things being equal...

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