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AZ 6, Padres 11 - In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up...

Record: 10-7. Change on last season: +3

Quote of the day: "D-backs merchandise sales have been through the roof in every category. Hats, T-shirts, jerseys and miscellaneous products have sold very well catching us by surprise over the last few months. Our buyers have increased our orders each time, only to find our orders not staying up with demand." -- Just Sports President, Kelly Roberts

If you'd told me before this game began, that we'd score five runs off Jake Peavy, and send him packing after 5.1 innings, I'd have grabbed the offer with both hands. I mean, this man had surrendered just two runs in his previous three starts combined, and was among the hottest pitchers in baseball. Ten hits and two walks off him? Oh, yes, please: where do we sign up? Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks still managed to lose this one, thanks to Hernandez 2.0 finally living down to the levels of performance expected by just about everyone outside of Arizona.

He dug us a seven-run deficit by the end of the third, and though the hitters battled back bravely, getting the tying run to second-base in the sixth, it was just too much. The Padres pulled away again after that point: first, Brandon Medders continued his inexplicable training for the Home Run Derby (he's now allowed five long balls in just 8.1 innings of work), and Dustin Nippert followed it up by walking three men in the eighth. I guess his girlfriend must have told him that he needs to get his ass back to Tucson, going by his recent performances.

And, lo, after the game, Nippert was duly optioned back to the Sidewinders. No decision has yet been made as to who will take his spot: it even seems possible we could bring two pitchers up from Tucson, and decide once it becomes clear whether Micah Owings is fit to make his scheduled start on Sunday. Another possibility is we bring up a starter who can go into the bullpen if necessary, but if we do that, we obviously can't use him on Friday or Saturday, which will leave us an arm short in the bullpen. And since they've been averaging about four innings of work per night recently, it's a dangerous tactic.

While almost all our pitchers sucked - we allowed ten walks, one shy of the franchise record [set on 2006/8/4 and 2003/9/25] - it was Hernandez who, to borrow a phrase from horror writer Chas Balun, sucked farts out of dead dogs. By the end of the third inning of Livan in oblivion, San Diego had mustered six hits, five walks, and seven runs, including a two-run triple to Jake Peavy. Said Hernandez: "The third inning...they were hitting everything I threw and it just happens sometimes... I'll be ready for the next time. I think I have to face San Diego at home, so I'll try to do something better." Oh, only if it's no bother.

That wasted the most runs we'd scored in a game since those heady days of the Washington sweep, and it was to our credit that we didn't give up when 7-0 down and facing a likely Cy Young contender. Things did start badly with Byrnes getting picked off in the top of the first, but after Chris Young homered in the fifth, we added a two-run single from Orlando, then really made things interesting in the sixth. Three singles brought home one run, Clark walked to reload the bases, and Eric Byrnes reached on catcher's interference, to make it 7-5, with the bases still full, and the NL's leading hitter, Orlando Hudson, at the plate.

However, he was unable to complete what would have been a improbable - nay, miraculous - comeback, grounding out. Medders' batting practice restored the Padres' margin to a comfortable level in the seventh, as he served up gopher balls to Greene and Bowers, and added two walks before Slaten bailed him out. Arizona added one final run on an RBI groundout from Drew in the eighth, but San Diego rolled into double figures off Nippert. Offensively, we did manage 13 hits, and it was good to see Chris Young get three of them, raising his average to .191. Byrnes and Tracy has two each, and at the other end, Hairston went 0-for-5 with three K's.

I can't say this loss came as much of a surprise, the Padres definitely having the advantage in the pitching match-up. But it would have been a fine day to take the "over" in runs scored, at seventeen - and as I mentioned in the comments, I'd probably rather have lost this comprehensively. Or at least, thrown Livan out there to throw 130 pitches or so, so we didn't have to burn four relievers up - though the ineffectiveness of Medders didn't help Melvin. But overall, at least this was not one any manager could have done much about: sometimes, your pitching will have all the effectiveness of week-old lettuce. And today, was one of those days.

Unsurprisingly, a little light in the GameDay Thread: a weekday afternoon road game, where you get blown away in the first three innings, is not going to result in a great deal of enthusiasm. All the more credit, therefore, to those who did show up: Ben, AZDarkKnight, azdb7, VIII, npineda, soco, TheMainMan, suitsmetoATnT, azdbacks51 and William K. The last named tells us that Randy Johnson's start in Tucson went very well: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 K and 2 ER. "He's ready," says William - and we'll see, sometime around the middle of next week.

Tomorrow's starter, Doug Davis, has continued to work on his mechanics - and I think that probably illustrates why he is not the re-incarnation of the Huge Manatee. Davis is acknowledging that there is an issue, and is prepared to work at finding the cause: Ortiz lived in a permanent state of denial. Of course, the two face off tomorrow at AT&T Park, and that promises to be one of the most intensely-watched contests of the year. Let's hope we got all our garbage ball out of the way today, and can kick some Manatee ass. GameDay Graph to follow tomorrow...

Update [2007-4-20 14:02:04 by Jim McLennan]: And here it is...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes: +7.5%
God-emperor of suck: Livan Hernandez, -29.5%