Record: 10-8. Change on last season: +2
Quote of the day: "I called three times and it was just one of those things where it was just so loud that 'O' said he heard me the last time, but by then, we had already collided. It's one of those things that happen in baseball. That's the way it goes sometimes." -- Stephen Drew
The most galling, frustrating, sickening thing about last night's defeat is not that Russ Ortiz got the win. Because Russ Ortiz did not beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. The defining moment of this game has been unspooling in my head ever since, and you know what? It doesn't get any better with repeat viewing. Stephen Drew blazing across the diamond like a guided missile, apparently intent on knocking the ball from Hudson's glove, as if Russ Ortiz held his family hostage, was the low point of the season so far. And the two runs which scored as a direct result of that first-inning gaffe, with the bases loaded, were the margin of Giants' - and as a result, Ortiz's - victory.
Whose fault was it? Calling or not, I'm still blaming Drew. The ball was well on the second-base side of the bag, Hudson was much closer to the ball, had a better route to it and, as we all know, Orlando Hudson has never met a pop-up he didn't believe was his own, personal property. ;-S Being a veteran, and the reigning Gold Glover to boot, comes with certain privileges, and I imagine not having to defer on an infield fly to upstart near-rookies is probably one of them. Finally, I should add that, while I was able to find comments from Davis, Melvin and Drew on the play...O-Dawg was apparently entirely silent regarding the matter. And if you know anything about him, that says a great deal.
Such incompetence aside, the offense sputtered again, though early on it looked like it was only a matter of time before they broke through against Ortiz. We had seven base-runners in the first three innings, but all we managed as a result were two runs on a pair of RBI doubles by the insanely-hot Hudson. He does deserve criticism for running into an out at third the second occasion; if he'd stayed put, we'd have had the tying run at second with no outs, but instead he was nailed by a mile and the bases were emptied. We never scored again. Indeed, we didn't even get a runner past second again, until two outs in the ninth, when Benitez was making it interesting.
Doug Davis settled down after another shaky first inning - in four games, he's allowed eight runs in the opening frame (though only three earned!), and hitters are 8-for-21 with six walks, making for a gruesome OBP of .519. Though obviously not helped by the error, he had already walked Bengie Molina on four pitches with the bases loaded, following a pair of singles and another walk, all with two outs. After that, however, in the next five innings, only one more run scored, on five hits and - most importantly - no walks. Arguably, this was his best performance of the year so far; though I'd be happier if he made these apparent mechanical changes before the game, rather than between innings!
Tracy reached base three times on a hit and two walks, and there were Two hits for Byrnes, though also a dire 3-0 hack that had me pulling out my hair. Can I also say that this front-flip thing he does when throwing the ball, is getting really old? I mean, I'd happily accept it if the resulting throw to home plate was accurate, but when it ends up half-way between the catcher and first-base - as was the case when Molina singled home the Giants' fourth run - what is the frickin' point? There are no points awarded for technical difficulty in the outfield, and so it seems like a pure affectation. Besides, if such a radical move actually helped, everyone would be doing it.
Three hits for Hudson, now batting .389, and he also drove in both the Diamondbacks' runs. Is it too early to mention that All-Star Balloting is now open? Vote early, vote often! Though depending on your view of The Error, you may be inclined to withhold your ballot for the moment. But let's be honest, this early voting just allows fans to stuff the ballot-box for their home-town heroes. We're less than three weeks into the season, which is far from enough time to decide who should objectively be chosen. I mean, Ian Kinsler is currently second in the major-leagues in home-runs. And Tom Gorzelanny has a 1.33 ERA after 20.1 IP. Anyone think they're All-Stars?
Unsurprisingly, enthusiasm in the GameDay Thread was, shall I say, "somewhat muted" by the disastrous first inning. Devin, William K, andrewinnewyork, Muu, VIII, Goose (welcome!), cavscout, Ben, singaporedbacksfan, johngordonma and IndyDBack turned up, but the majority of those only stayed for one comment. Can't say I blame them: the sight of the TrimSpa Manatee on the mound, or worse yet, being interviewed after the game with his smug little smirk, made me want to throw up. There are no words in the English language adequate to describe the level of contempt I feel for Ortiz.
That's the fourth time in the past five games that Byrnes has been the Most Valuable Player, as measured by Win Expectancy. Mind you, it's also the fourth time in the past five games that we've lost. :-( As an aside, check out the graph from the Yankees-Red Sox game. The Boston odds of victory were down as low as 2.8% with two outs in the seventh inning. Rivera scored a -65.1% for his performance, which may be the lowest figure I've ever seen.
Micah Owings stay with the Diamondbacks may have ended. Much to his chagrin, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of the nagging hamstring issue he suffered on the bases last start. Melvin was opting on the side of caution: "He's close, (but) we can't take a chance there...We've got to take a look at 162 games (instead of) potentially one." Currently, Yusmeiro Petit appears to have the inside track on the start; let's hope he performs better than the man he was traded for, Jorgo Julio. The club initially moved Mike Schultz up to take Owings' spot on the roster, though that will likely only be until Sunday, if they use Petit. Meanwhile, left-hander Dana Eveland was also brought up, replacing Dustin Nippert.
Certainly, I'm wondering where our much-touted offense (even by me) has gone to, especially in the past week. Drew, for example: 4-for-27, making Bob Melvin take him out of the leadoff spot. Chris Young: 5-for-22, though has shown some signs of life the past couple of days. Callaspo: 4-for-19. Over the season as a whole, we only have two regulars - Byrnes and Hudson, natch - batting better than .250, and if you take O-Dawg away, the rest of the team is hitting a paltry .235 combined. That can't possibly continue, though the weird thing is, only three NL teams have scored more runs than us. So, time to panic or not?
Rare Saturday afternoon game today. Should be about for most of it: Mrs. SnakePit [now feeling much better, thanks!] is off at her event, leaving me in charge of the house for the day. I hope we have enough beer, or things could get very ugly...