Record: 56-56. Change on last season: +3
We had the lead. Sure, it was a precious, tiny, feeble one-run thing, but Enrique Gonzalez had given us five innings on three days rest, leaving the game with a chance of victory. And facing Jason Schmidt - whom we last tagged with an L back in May 2003 - that is no mean accomplishment. Unfortunately, with the way our bullpen had been taxed, it seems Melvin had few alternatives but to bring in Jeff Bajenaru for his Diamondback debut.
The record books reveal Mr. Bajenaru has not exactly had a stellar career in the major-leagues. He threw 8.1 innings with the White Sox in 2004, surrendering a crisp ten earned runs, on fifteen hits and six hits. But hey, he only turned twenty in September that year. Then, in 2005, he got 4.1 more innings: four hits and no walks, but two of those hits left the yard, helping him to three earned runs. And now, after tonight's little performance, here's the career line on the latest member of our relief corps:
Bajenaru: 13.2 IP, 23 H, 5 HR, 6 BB, 17 ER, ERA 11.20
Just for interest, Alex Cintron - whom we traded for Bajenaru - is hitting .280 with 23 RBI off the Chicago bench. Advantage: White Sox.
The long ball totally killed Arizona tonight, to the point that we should think about getting a humidor. Those six home runs we allowed tied a franchise record and they all came between the fifth and eighth innings, as the Giants teed off. The first one came off a sagging EnGon: he was almost at ninety pitches through five innings, but allowed only two runs on four hits and two walks. The next three all came off Bajenaru's inning of "work" [if we gave a damn, we'd be scurrying to the record books to check when a pitcher's first inning for a team was so awful], while Aquino allowed two in his two innings. Embarrasingly, that included one to Schmidt, though he's no rabbit, with five previous round-trippers to his credit. Medders pitched the ninth and allowed no homers, to the ringing cheers of the crowd. Well, almost.
Meanwhile, while we had some early success against Schmidt, our offense wilted after Tracy's second RBI single in the third, and no-one reached third base again for Arizona until the bottom of the ninth. There, we had men on second and third with no outs, but all we could muster was an RBI out by Alberto "Hacktastico" Callaspo. He came up with the reputation of being difficult to strike out: two flyballs very early in the count, and a groundout swinging at ball four perhaps explain why. Not impressed. Tracy had two hits, and Hudson went 3-for-4 in the seven spot, continuing his blistering form there.
However, the list of walking wounded extended itself significantly. Jackson was hit on the wrist by a pitch from Schmidt. X-rays proved negative, which is a relief, but it must be sore as hell, and I wouldn't be surprised if he got the day off. He was one of three AZ batters hit by the Giants starter: Byrnes and Jackson also were drilled. I really expected to see retaliation in the ninth inning, since the game was out of reach. Exactly how many D'backs need to get plunked to provoke some response?
Even more worryingly, Chad Tracy injured himself, diving into the base, while trying to go first to third on a pop-up by Hudson. He lay on the ground for a disturbing amount of time - at first it looked like his shoulder was the problem, but it eventually became clear he'd tweaked something in his back. He was moving around in the dugout after the commercial break [hey, why let a paralyzed infielder get in the way of advertising revenue? I also heard the irritating blonde start the FlyBall FlightFund content while Tracy lay flat on his stomach!], but again, he may get a day or two off. That leaves our roster perilously thin, given three position players are day-to-day.
Perhaps this was intended as a demonstration of exactly why we apparently need pitchers like Livan Hernandez, who can go deep into games. Because any bullpen which gives up (as ours did tonight) eight hits, two walks and six earned runs in four innings, is clearly in serious need of help. SOON. However, Hernandez v2.0 is not scheduled to pitch here until Friday (Webb, all being well, will follow on Saturday), so the cavalry is not quite riding over the horizon yet.
Thanks to TheMainMan, William K, suitsmetoATnT and trevjohnson for their comments. Dodgers beat Colorado, so we're now in sole possession of third, one game behind the Dodgers and Reds, who are tied for the wild-card. We'll see what tomorrow brings - hopefully better things, on a variety of levels. Mrs. SnakePit and I will be down at the Jefferson St Bar and Grill from about 9pm tomorrow, meeting some of the "refugees" from the currently suspended Diamondbacks Bullpen, and if anyone else wants to show up, you're very welcome.
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Today: Bajenaru Batting Practice