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AZ 4, Padres 12 - Farewell to Gonzo, Part I

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Record: 75-84. Change on last season: 0
Rookies in starting lineup: 3


Starring Luis Gonzalez
Also with Craig Counsell

I suspect that didn't turn out quite the way the script was written, as a glorious send-off for the face of the franchise. We were hammered, there's no other word for it. What might also have been Miguel Batista's last appearance in a Diamondbacks jersey turned into an embarrassingly early exit for him. He slunk off the mound after being yanked before the end of the fourth, having allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

Perhaps it was the spanking we received, but the atmosphere at the park seemed subdued. While I did notice a smattering of Gonzo shirts, like mine, there was really nowhere near as much in the way of signage as I expected. And while he did receive a standing ovation his first time at the plate, the second and subsequent times were definitely sit-down affairs, though the applause was still long and loud. [Peavy, unlike Kim, apparently experienced no trouble with his shoe-laces...] Perhaps things will warm up as the weekend goes on.

Not a very satisfactory game at all, with only two of my eight expectations being met: Conor Jackson did have a multi-hit game, and there were three rookies in the lineup. No Drew, but got to see Montero instead, which was nice. Otherwise: disastrous. I had to leave in the middle of the eighth (though did catch Robby Hammock's at-bat as I headed round towards the exit), because the game ran long. The closest Gonzalez came to a home-run was a deep fly to left-field, and neither Batista nor our bullpen performed to expectation. I suppose I could claim Drew didn't strike out, but since he wasn't seen at all, that would be a bit of a cop-out.

Batista came out throwing strikes, and retired the Padres, 1-2-3, in the first. That was, however, the last time Arizona would manage it until the ninth inning... Batista completely lost it in the second frame, at one point throwing nine consecutive balls, resulting in back-to-back walks, the second with the bases loaded, and still nobody out. A ground-out scored another run, and after Batista retired Peavy, he had a chance to escape only two down, but Roberts' hit then doubled that lead.


The shape of things to come in 2007?

The Padres scored again in the third, and two more in the fourth before Batista was, mercifully, removed from proceedings, with the score at that point 7-0 to San Diego. Arizona tried to come back; we scored two runs in the bottom half of the fourth, and had two men on for pinch-hitter Johnny Estrada. He almost made it a 7-5 game with a long drive that just tailed foul, but in the end, he was just a harmless out. By the next time the Diamondbacks scored, we were ten runs behind, and I was on my way out of the ballpark.

Things weren't going much better for the bullpen. Enrique Gonzalez got the last out in the fourth, but our abortive comeback, and his replacement by Estrada, meant that was all the action our "long reliever" saw. There was a rare Greg Aquino sighting, as he saw action for the first time in eleven days: he pitched two innings, and allowed only one hit. However, that one left the park. He walked two and struck out three: he looked to have a great breaking ball, and I'm wondering why he doesn't use it more, and seems so in love with his fastball.

After a scoreless seventh from Medders, Tony Pena(rio) destroyed any chance of a comeback, facing five Padres and allowing hits to four of them. Though he wasn't helped by Melvin "relieving" him - quotes used advisedly - with Randy Choate, who allowed two more hits before escaping the inning, and the Padres piled four more runs on. Finally, Jorge Julio pitched the ninth and, as mentioned, retired San Diego in order. Hooray! All told though, fifteen hits and five walks in nine innings of work by our pitchers. Yuk.


Long time no see, Robby

Not that our batters really have much to crow about. Two hits for Jackson, and a pair for Counsell, who was also hit by a pitch. Quentin, too, got hit but the umpire said it hit his bat. I think the best solution is for Quentin to dip his arms in fluorescent green paint before coming to the plate, since officials appear to be incapable of telling the difference between cowhide hitting timber and flesh. Robby Hammock came in as a late-inning replacement, as we used a total of 22 players, turning it into a spring-training contest. He got a double in his first at-bat of the year.

GAME NOTES

  • 50% off everything in the team shop, except for autographed/game used memorabilia. They're clearing out the old stock: buy now while stocks last, though I suspect you'll see even deeper discounts after the end of the season. I browsed, but nothing appealed. I like T-shirts in light shades (that don't absorb heat like a solar panel) and with logos which look like they'll last more than two washes. This eliminated about 3/4 of the inventory, right there.

  • Okay, this is getting ridiculous: three "first" pitches were thrown out, by four people. I missed the first, but the second was delivered by one of the Harlem Globetrotters. The third was a tandem effort by heavyweight boxing champ Sergei Liakhovich...and Don King, basically shilling for his fight at Chase Field in November. Of course, the boxer did all the work, King just stood there looking smug. Way to go, D'backs: just the kind of classy, honourable person we want to open the series bidding farewell to Gonzo. If you want details of what I mean, here's the first part of Wikipedia's entry on King:

    Prior to entering the world of boxing, King was a con man and numbers racketeer in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1954, King shot and killed a man attempting to rob one of his gambling houses; the death was ruled a "justifiable homicide," despite the fact that King had shot him in the back. In 1966, King was convicted of stomping to death an employee who owed him $600. Although he then embarked on a campaign of hush money payments and witness intimidation, he was convicted of second degree murder and given a life sentence. The judge reduced the conviction to nonnegligent manslaughter. Some found this ruling suspicious, as it was made during an ex parte meeting with King's attorney in the judge's chambers, without the presence of the prosecutor or a court stenographer. King served four years in prison for the murder.


    A killer with reported ties to organized crime takes the mound.

  • It was "Take the field with the players" day, so each D'back position player had a kid who got to jog onto the park with them. That is, save the poor child assigned to Eric Byrnes, who was left trailing in Eric's wake, as he whizzed out to center-field at his usual hypersonic velocity. I could almost hear a plaintive "Waaaaaaiiittt..." drifting across Chase Field, from the waif abandoned by Byrnes.

  • Praise to Little League Announcer Chad Miller, who was kept busy when we sent seven men to the plate in the fourth. In the hopes he was some kind of lucky charm, he was sent to the mic again in the fifth, but was unable to repeat his encouraging performance.

  • I wonder if, when we change our logo, they're also going to change the style of the A's which dangle over the outfield, marking our division titles, to reflect the new one?

  • The irritating blonde now wears her own shirt, with her name, Lauren, on it, rather than that of a player she absolutely hasn't slept with, no, sir. [That sentence comes to you courtesy of the AZ SnakePit lawyers] It's number 6; I wonder how Stephen Drew feels about that? Speaking of which, I wonder how Hudson feels, sharing his number with Baxter?

  • When the D'backs threw the ball around after a strikeout, it went 3B-SS-2B-3B, missing Jackson out at first entirely. I thought he'd done something to offend the rest of the infield, but a little research reveals it seems general tradition. The only reason I could find claimed, was that the purpose of throwing round the ball is, "to keep those players warmed up in case someone tries to steal a base. No one is going to be running toward first."

  • I blame the wave, attempts at starting which broke out in the left-field corner at the start of the eighth. Though they never came to much, they did trigger the Padres into scoring four runs. It's cursed, because the baseball gods hate the wave: just you watch, bad stuff follows whenever it happens...


    Will this be Gonzo's new career?
    Or, hopefully, Baxter's...

Thanks to VIII, azdb7, Devin, William K and suitsmetoATnT for their comments. A poor performance on almost all fronts from Arizona, and not quite what I wanted for my last memory of Chase Field in 2007. Still, it was a fun time at the ol' ballpark as ever, with the roof open and the panels too. Though I'd forgotten just how that makes the place become a convention for months during night games in September!

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