Quotes of the day
""I was shocked because I've never seen anything like that from these fans. It didn't show very much class. ... Usually, I would expect that out of Shea or Philly." -- Brian Fuentes
"In the Dominican, they throw Brugal [rum] bottles, which are glass. It's a common occurrence down there. I've been hit with one. [Tonight] may have been a little overreacting." -- Eric Byrnes
"It's too bad it became about the umpires. But I think it shows that we don't have such an apathetic crowd, clearly." -- Derrick Hall
Ouch. That was not the National League Championship Series I signed up for. I signed up for the one in which the two best teams in the league collided, an ultimate test of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Whenever that series starts, please let me know - because it clearly wasn't last night. I wouldn't have minded so much if the Rockies had been clearly superior - but we actually had more hits (9-8) and more extra-base hits (2-0) than them.
Witness the first run. A broken-bat bleeder, a weakly-hit single through the infield, a walk and a double-play ground out. They literally [and I hope this doesn't bring the Writing Style Police down on my head again] didn't have a hard-hit ball all night - the evening was summed up by Holliday's "single" which started off foul, then came back fair before Reynolds could get to it, then rolled down the line to hit the third-base bag. If the Rockies have a hot-line to the man upstairs, it was kept busy last night. 264 times this year, a team was held without an extra-base hit. Only eleven times all season did they score five or more runs, as the Rockies did last night.
Brad Hawpe was, once again, the Webb-slayer, with that bases-loaded single (a little bleeder, naturally) that scored two runs and put the Rockies 4-1 up. If we'd got him out there, it would only have been a one run game, and we'd still have been very much in it. Instead, Hawpe extended his mastery over our ace: this year, he has now gone 11-for-17, ridiculous numbers at which point the small sample size ceases to matter [even a .300 hitter has only a 0.3% chance of doing that or better by luck]. Those were his 12th and 13th RBI of the season off Webb. Nobody else has more than four. Before Game Five - if there is one, and we'll have to play a damn sight better to get there - Webb might want to brush up on his hunting skills and lurk near Coors with a sniperscope.
But, it has to be admitted, Arizona didn't deserve to win, either, save the first inning where they came out top, with an RBI double by Byrnes. After the Rockies scored three in the third, we had our chances, but simply failed to convert them. Drew twice came up representing the tying run: the first time, in the fifth, he fought ferociously, finally going down swinging on the ninth pitch. In the seventh, however, he was facing Affeldt - a prospect that appeared to disturb Rockies fans as much as us bringing in, say, Brandon Medders for that situation. But he swung at the first pitch, and flew out to right.
Eric Byrnes had two hits, while Chris Young had our only two walks of the night, and the game ended when Montero doubled off the left-field wall, but overslid second and was tagged out. An appropriate metaphor for the entire evening, it has to be said. Francis tied us up once again, but the real difference was, he got the big outs when he needed them: Webb didn't. Juan Cruz did not look good in his appearance, walking two and throwing a wild-pitch, though wasn't helped by Jackson muffing a play. Snyder, behind the plate, was also poor defensively.
About the only bright spots were Nippert and Peña. The former looked very sharp, in particular demolishing Hawpe, striking him out on three straight pitches. Webb should ask for lessons - though given the three pitches in question from Nippert were clocked at 97, 97 and 98 mph, it might be tricky for Webb. Pestileñce was perhaps even more venomous, striking out the Rockies on 12 pitches in the ninth. However, that's small compensation on a night when the D-backs looked snake-bit, and the Rockies rolled.
Okay, let's get one thing straight: tossing stuff onto the field is not cool, mm-kay? However, I must admit, a small, dark corner of my soul cheered in the seventh inning when the Arizona fans reacted to a BS interference call on Justin Upton [more on which in a moment] by tossing stuff onto the field. Hah! That'll teach you to call us apathetic and lackadaisical. Let's put things into context, however: if there were a hundred fans involved, that would be about 0.2% of those in attendance. On the other hand, a team is inevitably judged by the worst of its supporters. Just ask the Cubs. Though, having seen the Suns screwed out of a NBA title by bad officiating, I can understand the sensitivity of the fans.
The slide. Let's just review Rule 7.09 (e), shall we?
Well, at least the last sentence does explain why Snyder had to return to second-base after the call. However, stop me if my reading comprehension is wide of the mark, but that appears to outlaw any contact. "Interferes with...a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play." But it just never gets called: how many "interference by runner" plays have there been this season? Even earlier in the same game, I think it was the fourth, when Chris Snyder hit into a double-play. Mark Reynold slid, extremely hard, into Kaz Matsu: I can assure you his 'intent' was not to invite the Rockies player for a beer. If the second baseman hadn't got the throw off, would that have been called interference? Hell, no. It's just never enforced - except, suddenly, during the seventh inning of the opening game in the National League Championship Series, it appears.
Over on ESPN, Amy Nelson writes, "Though the official attendance was 48,142, when the first pitch was thrown, there were thousands of empty seats, an embarrassment for a championship series game. Most of the seats were eventually filled, but that didn't mean the scalpers were having much success." Usual ESPN quality job of research there, Amy: if you'd looked outside, you'd have seen what I saw as I left work, two blocks from Chase, as the game started. That would be large numbers of people still arriving, thanks to I-10 being severely backed-up. What a great idea, to start a baseball game in the middle of rush-hour. Well done, MLB and TBS!
Not the most enjoyable of Gameday Threads for obvious reasons, but we appreciate the effort - special shoutout to Silverblood, the honored ambassador from Purple Row, for calming words of wisdom. Snakecharmer will run her roll-call script this morning, and that will be posted here. Correct me if I missed anyobdy: azdb7, Silverblood, soco, singaporedbacksfan, DbacksSkins, TwinnerA, Devin, 4CornersFan, hotclaws, johngordonma, andrewinnewyork, Stile4aly, monica in el paso, snakecharmer, seton hall snake pit, Turumbar, ghostofrooney, westcoastbias, Xeifrank, Jim McLennan, RockiesFan, nargel, NLWestFan, peeklay, oklahomasooners, Wimb, npineda, cj060896, Just Me, Zephon, britdback, Englishdback, nihil67, LucaMaz3, Pigpen Fan, and Adam.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes, +13.0%
God-emperor of suck: Brandon Webb, -17.5%
Honorary suckness: Conor Jackson, -13.1%
It ain't over, but that defeat certainly does not make our job this evening any easier. It basically becomes a "must win" game for Doug Davis, as we can not afford to go to Denver 0-2 down. If he wins, giving us a split, we're still following my plan towards Game Seven, just not quite the way I expected it to happen. We'll definitely need our hitters to perform a good deal better than they did last night. The comfort is, I really didn't feel like we were out-classed: a few breaks and, yes, some umpiring calls didn't go our way. Hopefully that has flushed all the suckiness and bad fortune out for the series.