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AZ 4, Dodgers 6 - Better. But still not good enough.

Record: 9-6. Change on last season: +2

Quote of the day: "With younger players, confidence can be an issue if you have some veterans with a track record around...but these guys know it's their jobs." -- Bob Melvin

There are times when the L by the pitcher's name is largely undeserved. But there are other times, when you couldn't place it more perfectly if you tried. That would be last night where, in a tied game, Tony Peña hit the Dodgers' leadoff batter, then allowed a deep triple to light-hitting Juan Pierre, and monumentally bodged backing up the throw to third, allowing Furcal to score. [Oddly, I note the box-score gave the error to Callaspo, which is strange, since it wasn't his mistake which allowed the run.] Well done: you must get up very early...

That spoiled what was setting up to be a very exciting encounter, the Diamondbacks having come back from two deficits, to take a brief lead of their own, before the visitors tied it up in the fifth. That was despite losing Micah Pwnings, who tweaked a hamstring running the bases in the fourth - he'd just driven in his second RBI of the night with a solid single. The good news is, the injury doesn't appear serious. Said Melvin: "We think there's a fairly decent chance he can still make his next start. It was the right thing to do to get him out of there."

Not that this was Micah's finest outing. He matched his earned-run total from his career to date in the first inning, and though he tied it up in second, helping himself with a sacrifice fly, the Dodgers scored two more in the fourth. He finished with a line of four hits, two walks, three K and three runs, all earned in his four innings. It was good to see Dustin Nippert get a bit of an extended outing, though he gave up three hits to the eight batters he faced. Then came Peña's meltdown, and I believe Brandon Medders pitched the ninth - it was clearly apparent from the game thread that enthusiasm for the game had been deflated like a pricked balloon after the seventh.

Today's installment of 'Melvin is an idiot' does not, surprisingly, come to you from the bullpen - circumstances there helped prevent significant mis-use. The bit that had us foaming at the mouth was in the bottom of the sixth, when the score was still tied. With one out, Byrnes walked on four pitches - but after another ball, rather than calling for a straight steal (or even waiting for the pitcher to prove he could throw a strike), Melvin put on the hit and run. Callaspo tried manfully to hit another pitch out of the zone, missed, and Byrnes was easily out at second. We could also add pitching to Betemit in the fourth, with a base open and Tomko up next. That led to a sac. fly for Betemit.

However, there were still some pluses to be taken from the game. We did show fight in coming back twice; we out-hit the Dodgers 11-9, and out-walked them as well (5-5). Jackson, Quentin and Callaspo all had two hits apiece - the first-named, along with Drew, who had a pinch-hit single, escaped the Uecker Zone, though Snyder's 0-for-2 night sent him down there to join Chris Young. Hudson also reached three times, and his .393 average leads the National League. O-Dawg saw 27 pitches in his five at-bats, and his season figure (3.96 per at-bat) is best in AZ - next are Tracy (3.92) and Callaspo (3.74).

Looking at the series as whole, it was largely the Diamondbacks' problem in the clutch that sunk them: we were only 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 15 men on base. That kind of thing should tend to equalize over the course of a season, which gives me some hope. Certainly, the Dodgers' pitching staff does appear to be as good as advertised, and though they have equally obvious weaknesses, their arms should keep them in the race.

Excellent GameDay thread, almost two hundred comments all told: singaporedbacksfan, Ben, npineda, leemellon, biggerunit1, William K, dstorm, peeklay, AZDarkKnight, soco, FatLeprechaun, IndyDBack and DBACKS KICK ARSE were the ones who made it so. Not the best way to end the homestand, which ended up at a mediocre 4-4, but we'll see how we do against the Padres and Giants on the upcoming stand. And, dammit, I've had enough of Jorge Julio on my fantasy team. Action WILL be taken... :-(

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Orlando Hudson: +12.6%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Tracy: -31.0%.
But to no-one's surprise, Tony Peña = -24.3%