Record: 7-2. Change on last season: +4
Quote of the day: "I'm 72 years old, and I'm not hopping on a plane and flying all the way to San Francisco for anybody." -- Hank Aaron, on why he won't be attending if Barry Bonds breaks his record.
Scott Hairston did the job, driving in Conor Jackson with a double off the center-field wall, in the bottom of the eleventh inning. That brought to an end another nail-biting game, that had remained at four apiece for more than six innings, with no further scoring after Chris Snyder tied the game up with a solo homer in the fourth. Thirteen half-innings of zeroes followed, which seemed pretty unlikely, given Snyder's homer was already the fifth one of the day to that point. But both starting pitchers, and their respective bullpens, settled down after that.
Interestingly, both starters posted almost identical lines - 7 IP, 6 H, four runs, all earned - with EdGon having one less K and a walk [more on which, in a moment]. They also threw very similar numbers of pitches: 99 for Lohse, 97 for Gonzalez, though neither factored into the final decision. After that, Medders got the first two outs of the eighth, and it was good to see Slaten have an extended outing, retiring all four hitters he faced. Things did get wobbly, Tony Pena putting two on in the tenth, and in the eleventh, Cruz did the same, adding a balk for good measure. Luckily, the Reds couldn't take advantage; when we had our chance, we did.
The Reds opened the scoring with a homer by Dunn in the first, but the D-backs responded with one of their own, and this was a three-run shot by Tracy, after singles by Callaspo and Hudson. Cincinnati came back with three of their own in the third, on back-to-back homers by former coke fiend Josh Hamilton [look, every story about the Reds mentions it, so who am I to buck a trend?] and Brandon Phillips. The former was a two-run shot, EdGon having committed the cardinal sin of walking the opposing pitcher just before. Not a good choice of player or time, really.
Two hits for Hudson (yawn), raising his average this season to a perky .395. Jackson had two as well, including that crucial hit in the eleventh, and Chris Snyder showed signs of life with two knocks of his own. On the downside, Drew was hitless, and is now batting .214 (though he's still tied for the team-lead in walks), while Eric Byrnes was 0-for-5 with 3 K's, knocking some of the sheen off his early-season form. Callaspo replaced Young again in right-field, and had a quiet, inoffensive game there. Which is just how we want it.
Much smaller crowd at Chase - 21,225, only about half what was there for Opening Day. Can't say I'm at all surprised: last year, the same series drew only about 25,400 per game, and that was over a weekend in 2006. [We haven't faced them during the week since 2002, so that wouldn't really be much of a comparison.] Solid turnout in the comments though: DBACKS KICK ARSE, DiamondbacksWIn, johngordonma, quintero, trevjohnson, William K, singaporedbacksfan, VIII, npineda, foulpole and azdbacks51, all keeping things bubbling.
Foulpole was asking how I felt about the bunt in the eighth. The answer is: not happy. In a tied game, with a man on first for the home team and no outs in the 8th, between 2001-2006, they ended up winning 72.1% of games. After the bunt (man on second and one out, still tied in the eight), the home team won 70.6% of games, so the sacrifice actually reduced our chances of victory a bit. Obviously, there are other factors - such as the men due up, Hudson and Byrnes, being the hottest hitters on the team - but unlike the bunt by Hairston in Monday's game, I wouldn't have done it.
Couple of minor notes. Young's groin might get him sat for one final day today: with no game tomorrow, that should allow us to be certain he's at 100% for the series against the Rockies that starts on Friday. Valverde's lack of velocity - he's throwing high 80's most of the time now - is entirely deliberate. He says, "When I throw as hard as I can, I throw 94-97. But right now, I want to locate my fastball first." That's a good thing: if it's down the pipe, it really doesn't matter how fast it is, major-league hitters will be ready.
And Doug Davis made a minor adjustment in his pitching motion during his last start, and reckons that will pay big dividends. Bryan Price pointed out he was bringing his arm too far back, before the start of the fifth inning on Monday. Says, Davis: "He said to work on it during my eight warm-up pitches, so I worked on it, and I started feeling right again. I had two quick innings, just 16 pitches in both of them, and that's more Doug Davis than the guy falling behind in counts and everything else." We'll see how that pans out, but fingers crossed...