Record: 6-2. Change on last season: +3
Quote of the day: "The Diamondbacks broke out their Sedona red uniforms for the first time at home and fans responded by blanketing the stadium's green seats in the team's new color. The tint was so omnipresent it was a wonder the team shop didn't close its doors after running out of merchandise." -- Matt Simpson, Tribune
That couldn't have worked out much better. The biggest AZ Opener crowd in franchise history, more that 49,000, saw the team win their first home game, for the first time in five years, in a nailbiting, come-from behind win. That looked extremely unlikely as Bronson Arroyo took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but somehow, we scrabbled and scratched out runs in the sixth and seventh to level things, and then Hudson smacked his second homer of the year to left, and we hung on for victory.
That was no small measure of redemption for Hudson, who bore some blame for the second Reds run. With the bases loaded and one out, Dave Ross sent a pop-up to shallow right: Hudson and new right-fielder Callaspo both headed for it. It should have been Callaspo's; he was coming forward and would have had the momentum. But he didn't call, and Hudson grabbed the ball, still heading out, which allowed Ken Griffey to tag and score from third. Certainly, Callaspo bears some blame, but I do reckon Hudson should have taken charge and perhaps reminded Alberto - particularly since he had one previous game at the position - that it was his ball.
Still, all was forgiven when he hit a 390-ft ball out of the park, and gave Jose Valverde another, slim save opportunity. It did not look good to begin with: he walked the first hitter, and had no control at all, with his fast-ball topping out at a very hittable 88 mph. However, Hatteberg grounded into the Reds third double-play of the night [already, Jose has two more GIDPs than all 2006!], and this caused a remarkable change in Papa Grande: suddenly, he gained another five ticks on the radar gun, as the crowd got behind him. He did allow another hit, but then Brandon Phillips flew out to Hairston, and our fifth consecutive win was in the bag.
Doug Davis remains, to borrow a quote from Churchill, "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." On one level, this was another very shaky performance: only 54 strikes in 102 pitches, getting Nippert up in the bullpen as early as the fourth, partly reliant on a pair of double-plays, and falling behind far too many hitters. And yet... Somehow, Davis bent but never broke, and comes out of it with a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings. An ERA of 1.64 in his first two starts? We'd have been happy with that from Brandon Webb, never mind Doug D. Maybe we should just shrug and embrace it as one of those unfathomable things, like homing pigeons, the Sphinx and the popularity of American Idol.
The team had a lot of problems dealing with Bronson Arroyo: first time through, the only base-runner we managed was Davis, inexplicably walked by the Reds starter. Second time through, we fared little better: Tracy singled in the fifth to break up the no hitter, and that was it until pinch-hitter Hammock dropped a perfect bloop double onto the right-field line, and came around on a sac. fly and groundout. That turned the tide: Tracy led off the seventh with a double, and we manufactured the tying run on a bunt by Hairston [Melvin's first by a position player this year] and sac. fly from Snyder. Though Hudson's long ball eventually won this, it was small ball that got us back into the game.
Perhaps the real turning point was the last out of the Reds sixth: Conine hit a deep fly between Hairston and Byrnes, that had 'extra bases' written all over it. However, somehow, Eric ran it down, before bouncing off the outfield wall and into Hairston's arms [okay, that sounds a lot gayer than it actually was...not that there's anything wrong with that. :-)] The crowd,. which had been muted, went wild, and roared the team back through their comeback. Though they did rumble nervously as Brandon Lyon loaded the bases in the eighth, on a single and two walks, he coaxed Gonzalez to fly out to Byrnes and keep the score tied, setting the stage for O-Dawg.
Thanks to everyone who joined me in the GameDay Thread for the home opener: DBACKS KICK ARSE, singaporedbacksfan, VIII, IndyDBack, flyingdutchman, AZDarkKnight, cavscout, Englishdback, William K, Muu, and unnamedDBacksfan. This 6-2 record is now tied for the best start to a season in Diamondbacks franchise history, matching the 2000 team, who played six of their games at home. In case you're wondering, the ones who took the World Series home were only 3-5 after eight games.