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AZ 1, Padres 3 - Unable to help Webb...

Record: 72-80. Change on last season: +3
Rookies in starting lineup: 3

You could argue that Brandon Webb was one hit away from another brilliant outing: Mike Cameron's triple in the second inning, which drove in two runs, and Cameron himself then scored later on a sacrifice fly. While even before that, he was in some trouble, having let the first two get aboard for the Padres, this is Brandon Webb, for whom runners on base are merely double-play fodder. No, it was Cameron's blow that cost Arizona this one. And that effectively led to a stalemate in the Cy Young Wars, because Chris Carpenter lost too - though he threw a complete game, he was shelled in so doing, and their ERAs are now virtually tied.

Okay, perhaps it's a slight exaggeration to claim Webb was one hit from a shutout, it's certainly true to say that he was one inning away, as around that second frame, he retired seventeen Padres in a row. That's two consecutive starts now, where Webb's been brilliant - save one inning where his mechanics suddenly, obviously, but briefly, go completely to hell. Most odd. The final tally: seven innings pitched, five hits and a walk, with four K's. But three earned runs, all in that second inning, were enough to consign Webb to his seventh defeat of the year, setting his record to 16-7, with two starts left. [Carpenter will, almost certainly, only have one, because the Cardinals want him to start NLDS Game 1, rather than an otherwise meaningless Game 162 of the regular season]

That's because all we could muster was a single run, driven in by a Jackson single in the sixth. Oh, as usual, we had our opportunities. Take the second, when we had runners on the corners and only one out, before a Snyder double-play took care of that. But it was the sixth that was our big chance. After Jackson's hit, we had men on first and second, and no outs. Then Byrnes struck out, crucified by the ineptness of home-plate umpire Dale Scott (his second straight night of poor officiating), and Tracy flied out - that was the end of Woody Williams.

However, questions have to be asked about BoMel's subsequent decision to pinch-hit for Scott Hairston - who was 2-for-2 on the night, our only player to get more than one hit - with Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo hadn't played because of poor career numbers against Williams, and as soon as the pitcher was removed, in he came. But the results were so poor (0-for-2 with three men left on base) as to make one doubt Hairston could have done any worse. It defintely doesn't help Hairston's trade value, even, when other teams see him getting yanked like that.

Not really much else to add to this one. Impressive escape act by Vizcaino, who loaded the bases in the eighth without getting an out, on a double, hit batter and walk. He then got out of the inning with a K and a double-play. For his next trick, he'll repeat this performance, while wearing a strait-jacket, and dangling in flames from a crane over the pitcher's mound. Hey, we need something to keep our attention in the games when Webb's not starting for us...

That's the problem for the rest of this road-trip: the only reason to watch these games is as some kind of omen for 2007. That's what was so enthralling about last night's outing by EdGon: it meant something, as a signpost towards the future. On the other hand, when you see Hairston getting yanked for Luis Gonzalez - who definitely will not be here in 2007 - it kinda defeats the object. Every at-bat for Luis Gonzalez is now like a condemned man's last meal, and has as much point. Surely we can find a better use for the plate appearances - at least on the road games where nobody in the crowd gives a damn.

Thanks to all those who commented, both on the Gameday thread and the Cy Young Smackdown: matt, VIII, Cards Fan, mccray, William K, shoewizard, EvilJuan and icecoldmo; a special tip of the hat to VIII for alerting us to the alleged new D'backs logos. I say "alleged", simply to cover my butt in case it turns out to be a hoax for some reason. However, that would seem to require far too much effort, and they look pretty convincing as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, fangraphs and Heroes and Zeroes to follow tomorrow: shaping up to be quite the busy day though, so don't expect much more than that and the GameDay Thread.