Record: 74-82. Change on last season: +2
Rookies in starting lineup: 4
I've waited four years to use that headline. Four years! :-) Well, if we can't make the playoffs ourselves, I guess the next best thing is making sure the Giants don't make it either. Our victory over San Francisco ensured that their streak without a World Series victory runs to 54 years. Next target: relegate them to fourth place for the year. That seems an eminently achievable aim, the way they're currently playing (one win in ten games). Hell, the Rockies could well overtake them before the end of Sunday.
Enough gloating (though you can never really have enough schadenfreude over the futile struggles of Barry Bonds to get a ring for his bloated fingers). This was a fine, all-round performance from the Diamondbacks, and one that offers me great hope for next season, given the strong results obtained from the "official" rookies, as well as the "non-rookie but still damn young" Edgar Gonzalez. It's ironic that EdGon - who couldn't buy a win as a starter these past three years, until last week - was the man to finally end the undefeated streak of Jason Schmidt.
Seven solid innings from him. I was listening to Bob Melvin on the radio this afternoon, and he was saying that while he used to think EdGon might benefit from a change in scenery, his opinion is rapidly changing. I don't expect an off-season trade, and would not be surprised if he was our #4 starter come Opening Day next year. As a starter, his ERA is now exactly three in his five outings, which is only .05 worse than a certain Mr. B. Webb, and is more than a run better than anyone else we've tried in the role this year.
About the only slightly worrying aspect was three walks, which is very high for someone like EdGon. He doesn't have overwhelming power, so hitting his locations is crucial, and he seemed to have some problems doing that occasionally. The fifth was the classic example: after getting the first two out, he allowed a double to Schmidt, then his focus wavered, and he walked the next two hitters to load the bases. However, a masterful strikeout of Sweeney ended the threat, and the only damage all night was the homer to Durham - that's three starts now, and the four runs EnGon has allowed, have all come on solo home-runs. Chance or an ongoing issue?
The other delightful facet was the great performances from the Buzztails [or whatever you want to call the upcoming members of the roster!] Montero broke his zero in no uncertain fashion, going 3-for-4, almost getting the first home-run of his career too - only the high wall in right-field stopped him. Tracy had two hits, and Conor Jackson delivered the crucial blow: a three-run homer in the fourth which gave the Diamondbacks the lead for good. Eric Byrnes hit his 24th homer, but it was not a good night overall for the "vets": Byrnes, Counsell and Luis Gonzalez were a combined 2-for-14. Counsell is now hitting .135 [7-for-52] since coming back from injury.
EdGon left after seven innings: at only 93 pitches, he could probably have gone one more, but he'd done all we could have hoped for, and this kind of outing can only be a massive confidence booster. Not least the way he challenged 'Roidman and came out on top all three times. After he left, Choate and Valverde pitched perfect innings to close things out: thanks to the three runs we scored in the ninth, it wasn't a save situation for Valverde, but he was warmed up already. Might as well give him a low-pressure outing, as long as he's still fresh when needed.
Interesting line in the game recap: "The Diamondbacks, along with the Seattle Mariners, are considered the teams most interested in signing Schmidt this winter." I made that suggestion in-game, but also more in-jest than anything else. As I said in my comment, if we could get him for #2 money, that would be fine, but I think some team will probably still offer Schmidt money and contract length befitting an ace, when he doesn't seem to have it any more. Of course, I've only seen his starts vs. AZ, but 12 earned runs in 20 innings there, for a 5.40 ERA, doesn't seem too good.
Thanks to William K and, yes, suitsmetoATnT, for their contributions in game last night. We need to go 3-3 over the last six games to match last seasons total, and with two outings from Webb in that time, I'm optimistic we should be able to do it - though probably not much more. Regardless, the win puts the Diamondbacks above my pre-season estimate of 73 victories, so on that basis, everything else is now gravy.
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Today: Adios, Gigantos
Interesting quotes from Miguel Batista:
Refreshingly honest is probably what I'd say there, though I might not agree with everything. I'm reminded of Hunter S. Thompson on the topic of authorship when he said - and pardon my language here, as I quote him - "I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it's a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don't do much giggling." I think the truth goes wider than that; most things are only fun for amateurs. When you get paid to do them, the whole structure shifts significantly, because the power goes to whoever is paying you the money. In an ideal world, everyone would do everything for fun. Though I suspect our sewer system might suffer somewhat from neglect. Capitalism, eh? Can't live with it, can't overthrow it and install a proto-Stalinist rule by the proletariat...