Record: 64-68. Change on last season: +4
The game last night honoured the Ahwatukee Little League All-Stars, who reached their World Series, before being unlucky to go out, despite winning two of their three games. On the evidence of this performance, however, we might have been better off if they had played for us, and we'd treated the Diamondbacks roster to hot-dogs and ice-cream instead.
Yeah, a cheap shot, I know. But here are the statistics that matter: twelve strikeouts, no walks. That's a Little League performance right there, as Chris Young extended his amazing streak on the road to twenty-one games without a defeat, the longest since Greg Maddux went 22 straight in 1997-98. Said Conor Jackson, "It's like Shaq out there. He's a pretty tall guy and he's got a weird arm angle. He's only throwing 88 or 90 but it looks like about 95, 96." Orlando Hudson agreed: "That 90 mph fastball is a lot harder, coming from a big downhill angle... He mixed it up tonight and keeping that fastball chest-high makes it kinda hard to lay off of."
Particular culprits on the strikeout front were Byrnes, who last night, took to his new role in the cleanup spot like...well, all the other people we've tried this year, and Tracy, both of whom fanned three times. The latter had been good lately, going K-less in five of the previous six games, but maybe Chad was swinging for the fences, trying to erase the possibility of the Tracy HR Watch. Didn't work if so. It's now 107 at-bats since he homered, though much like in Gonzo's streak, he's not hitting badly: he's at .290 (31-for-107) since he last trotted around the bags on July 31st.
As well as going walkless, we only managed six hits, so not much success for us at the plate - unless you count Carlos Quentin getting hit by a pitch for the fifth time. That ties him with Chad Tracy and Eric Byrnes, each of whom have at least five times as many at-bats as Q. He did go 0-for-2 with 2 K's when hitting the ball, however. Otherwise, Young had a pinch-hit double (time for the Free Chris Young campaign to start?), and Hudson had two knocks, including his 13th homer of the year. Revisiting an earlier chart, O-Dawg's .818 OPS is now fourth among qualifying second basemen (400+ PAs). Since the All-Star break, his figure of .958 trails just Ray Durham (min. 100 PAs). He also has 8 triples already, a figure beaten only by Steve Finley (10 during 2003), since Tony Womack set the franchise record of 14 back in 2000.
Well, at least EnGon didn't give up any runs in the first inning. The second, third and fifth innings, however? Not so lucky... He was pulled after five, allowing four runs on ten hits and a walk, with the Diamondbacks down by three, and ended up losing his fourth straight decision, dropping his record to 3-6 - he has only one win in thirteen starts since June 13. We pulled a run back in the sixth, but then Juan Cruz allowed three in the seventh to nail down the lid on this particular coffin. The sinking ship which is S.S. Tony Pena(rio) added one more in the eighth for good luck, though Vizcaino did pitch a scoreless ninth.
Thanks to andrewinnewyork, npineda, nihil67, DiamondbacksWIn, jazzbo13, Otacon and icecoldmo for their thoughts. The general perception seems to be that, yes, this is the end for us. DiamondbacksWIn points out that Florida have now won nine in a row - could this be another one of the Marlins' patented wild-card charges? More power to them and their $15m payroll if so. San Diego now lead the pack, but with seven teams - still including AZ - within three games of them, it is still very much up for grabs. Just probably not by us.
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Today: AZ loses the ability to walk
Seems David Wells might be traded from Boston. Any chance Arizona might be in the running? Er, no, despite ESPN trying to start rumors to the contrary. The story pretty much commits hara-kiri as far as the Diamondbacks are concerned, when it says, "Wells has talked about retiring at the end of this season." There's no way we would even be looking at a player for a month's worth of games, even if it was one who, unlike Wells, hadn't reneged on a handshake agreement to join us a few years back. The most likely destination seems to be a team that's really desperate for a quick injection of pitching. I'm thinking Cardinals or Dodgers?
Some more news on Jeff Davanon, who appears amenable to coming back to Arizona next year, after his surgery, having enjoyed his time here: "I called this the nicest team in baseball. Everyone's overly nice. I can't say anything bad about my teammates this year. I've had a lot of fun." The report also says his option for next year will be $1.25m: it suggests he'd be platooned with Byrnes in left, rather than center. This would presume there's no room for Gonzo, of course... But with DaVanon a switch-hitter, he could see playing time at all three positions.