Record: 7-3. Change on last season: +2
Quote of the day: ""Obviously, I hate to lose. I'll continue to take it one game at a time, one batter at a time. Even more so, one pitch at a time." -- Micah Owings, on the end of his undefeated streak.
I feel responsible for last night's defeat, having tweaked the baseball gods' noses somewhat. In the seventh inning, I was so sure Pwnings would post a zero, I was scoping out in Baseball-Reference.com, checking when the last time was somebody started their baseball career with two starts and twelve innings of shutout baseball. However, by the end of the seventh, Micah's hopes lay shattered in the dust, and the D-backs win streak followed shortly afterward. [The answer, incidentally, is August 18+23, 2001, when Carlos Hernandez pitched 13 innings for Houston.]
Owings threw 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and a walk, fanning five, but had been playing with fire: the seventh was the fourth straight inning the Reds led off with a hit. He'd worked around it the previous times, most impressively in the fifth where Phillips was on third with one out, but was stranded by a pair of a strikeouts. However, a two-run double for pinch-hitter Valentin wiped out the 1-0 lead which the Diamondbacks had held onto, like Anna Nicole Smith clutching a bottle of methadone, since the bottom of the first inning.
That was about the only occasion we threatened, and in hindsight, it'd have been nice to do more after having men on second and third with nobody out - Drew walked, and Callaspo doubled down the left-field line. But Arizona scored only once, on Hudson's sacrifice fly - and the next time we got a runner in scoring position, was with two outs in the ninth inning. There, Tracy had an RBI double to give us hope, but the insurance run Cincinnati got on a homer by Hamilton off Medders in the eighth proved crucial. Nippert saw only his second inning of work in the ninth; he seemed glad to be out there, and had brought his gas - the final pitch, with which he K'd Moeller, clocked in at 97 mph.
It was a brave performance by Owings, but not quite enough, as the offense managed six hits and two walks. Callaspo had a pair, and Drew reached base twice, on a hit and a walk, the first coming on a seven-pitch at bat to lead off the game. But offense has been at a premium in a series where the two teams scored only 19 runs combined in 29 innings. Our bats have been quite chilly in the series: particularly Byrnes (2-for-13), Hairston (1-for-9) and Drew (1-for-11), with Hudson (5-for-12) the only standout.
No doubt, the Reds have some solid pitching; that we still took the series, even with two everyday outfielders out and at the back end of our rotation, is to the D-backs' credit. It's just a shame Josh Hamilton played long-ball, so I never got to use the comment I planned if he had an infield hit: "Hamilton whizzes up the line. Which is pretty much what he did his entire minor-league career..." DBACKS KICK ARSE, singaporedbacksfan, DiamondbacksWIn, cavscout, npineda, VIII, William K, azdbacks51 and Ben were to be found in the comments.
This team has played 94 innings of baseball so far. Only at the end of four of them, have we been more than one run behind: the fourth and fifth in the home opener, and the eighth and ninth when Durbin had his seven-run outing. That's mostly due to kickass pitching: the team ERA is 3.11, and if the now-departed Durbin's brief but ineffective outing is taken out, that figure drops all the way down to 2.45.
Randy Johnson is urging caution over his return date, saying: "Everybody says that I'm targeted to come back on the 19th. Don't put that in stone... I realized after my last game that I wasn't ready. I'm looking forward to my next start, and we'll go from there. Hopefully I'll be healthy, happy and effective." Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin played in an extended spring training game in Tucson, and could be activated for the road-trip which begins on the 18th. Jeff DaVanon's shoulder is still giving him grief and a cortisone injection is possible.
And wow: no game today. Enjoy it, folks: the next off-day isn't until Monday 23rd. Not sure what I'll do. Mrs. SnakePit said she's arranged something as a pre-birthday present, and has been dropping hints, but I'm still basically clueless. So, no real change on the normal situation there... :-)