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AZ 3, Padres 1 - The Gonzo Farewell Weekend, Part II

Record: 76-84. Change on last season: 0
Rookies in starting lineup: 3

Our offense was again subdued, with both fewer hits and fewer runs than during Thurday evening's game. But the big difference is, its performance last night falls into the "good enough" category. That's thanks to Livan Hernandez and the bullpen shutting down the Padres hitters, who were almost unstoppable on Friday. Saturday, they were held to one run on four hits over seven innings by Hernandez v2.0, and Slaten, Vizcaino and Valverde combined to retire the remaining six hitters. The net result: we scored three runs or less, but still won, for only the third time since July 2nd.

Props to Livan, who overall, has been pretty credible since coming over from the East Coast. In his ten starts for the D'backs, he had an ERA of 3.76, allowing 70 hits and 26 walks in 69.1 innings, with opponents hitting .266. In a year where only one NL pitcher has an ERA below three, those are credible #3 figures. I'd be happier if he would get those walks down a bit next year: that'd have a significant knock-on effect to his figures, I reckon. It continues our run of generally decent - Friday excepted, obviously - performances in pitching. The overall team ERA for September has been 3.74, good enough for 3rd in the National League. That clearly hasn't been the problem this month. Our OPS of .756, ranked 10th in the league - that's why we're 12-15 so far.

Not much in the way of offense, as noted: Eric Byrnes' 26th homer of the year, following a walk to Counsell, was all that we would need. We did add a useful insurance run in the seventh: Jackson doubled, but a failed bunt from Drew erased him. No matter: Quentin's second double of the night sent Drew motoring all the way around from first. It was especially welcome as the Padres had mounted their major threat of the night in the top of the inning: a pinch-hit single by Klesko drove in a run and put the tying run at third. However, Roberts popped out to Counsell, swinging at ball four, and the door was barred thereafter, the Padres not having a base-runner. Tracy joined Quentin in having two hits, and also had one of our two walks.

30,700 at this one, which pushed our home total past the two million mark. There's now actually a decent chance that the total for the season might not be an all-time low. Last year, we drew 2,059,424, so we still need about 25,000 for each of the last two games, in order to ensure we pass that total. Early in the year, when we were struggling to get twenty thousand, I'd have said that goal would be a stretch for two meaningless (to us) season's end contests. But that now seems more than likely, given the circumstances and huge public awareness of this being the Last Hurrah for Luis - ironic that the boost might be Gonzo's final gift to the franchise before he departs.

Better attendance there than in the comments, where it was just me and suitsmetoATnT. Hey, it's a Friday night, and this is now almost the time of year when it is actually pleasant to live in Arizona once more. ;-) I was tempted to skip it myself, it must be admitted. However, inertia set in, aided by the unusual consumption of significant alcohol on Friday afternoon: haven't done that since my days back in London, where Friday lunchtimes occasionally turned into "go back to the office at 5pm, pick up your jacket (left on the chair-back to give the impression you'd just stepped away for a minute!) and go home." Ah, I suspect my liver doesn't miss those days very much...

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Today: Winning one for the Gonzo

With the Dodgers pulling out a ninth-inning win over the Giants, things get very, very tight: they and the Padres are now tied atop the NL West, with two games to go. Dilemmas now abound. Who do we want to win the division? Kneejerk reaction is probably the Padres, but that would likely boost Trevor Hoffman's case for Cy Young glory. So it might be tempting to root for the Dodgers in their final two games, especially as they're playing the Giants, who are currently half-a-game ahead of us. Neither team can clinch tomorrow either: the division is going right down to the 162nd game. Oh, and while the Padres will face Brandon Webb there, the Dodgers have to take on Jason Schmidt. Ouch.

Interesting story regarding Andy Green: "Green met with general manager Josh Byrnes on Friday to discuss his desire to have the organization sell his rights to a team in Japan." It's a somewhat different choice, but it's fair enough: he hasn't exactly been given much chance here (86 at-bats), and the prospects don't look much brighter in 2007. Callaspo would seem to have the main back-up slot for the infield pinned down, with Robby Hammock as a super-utility guy. Perhaps Green is hoping going to Japan will have the same effect as the last player we sold there, first-baseman Alex Cabrera. He became a star, tying their single-season HR record with 55 in 2002 for the Seibu Lions.

The 2007 Diamondbacks' schedule has been announced. We open and close the year against the Rockies on the road, April 2nd and September 30th respectively. Home opener will be Cincinnati on April 9. For interleague play, it all comes between June 8 and 24. We'll get to see the Red Sox, Orioles and our nemesis, the Devil Rays, while we travel to play the Yankees and Orioles. Odd how we play Baltimore twice, but there's no apparent mention of the Toronto Blue Jays at all. See here for the full program of games.

Woo-hoo! Another Diamondbacks fan-site has been discovered. We welcome Diary of a Die-Hard to the small, but enthusiastic, ranks of D'bloggers. And there's no doubt about his enthusiasm, since the man is a season-ticket holder (Section 108, Row 14, Seat 20, as the site proudly proclaims), who makes it to every game. Well, almost: he missed three this year. As he said in an email, "My wife seemed to think that our 25th wedding anniversary was more important than a series against the Los Angeles Angels. I swear that woman needs to get her priorities straightened out." That's the kind of fan we could use more of. :-) [He also told me an even better story about his grandmother's funeral, but I'll leave you to work out that one for yourself!]

His D'backs career may be over, but Miguel Batista's alternative line of work moves on, with the release in English of his novel, The Avenger of Blood, which is a crime story set in Phoenix. See the publisher's site for more information. Might see if I can pick up a copy: Batista has always had a good way with words, and is clearly an sharp mind. Not sure about the title though: I've a feeling it was originally going to be called Through the Eyes of the Law (that may have been the Spanish-language title - it's already out in Puerto Rico and the DR), which strikes me as a title more befitting a crime novel. When I hear "The Avenger of Blood", I imagine a book about a barbarian with a large sword, and probably a cover by Boris Vallejo, featuring said barbarian and women wearing nothing but a small amount of tin-foil.

Peeps should note that it's an afternoon game today. An unusual event for a Saturday, but one I'm happy to handle, since it means I should get to be around for most of the game, before heading out to Big Daddy's North later. GameDay Thread to follow shortly.