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AZ 0, Giants 1 - No, Mr. Bonds! I expect you to die!

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Record: 10-9. Change on last season: +2

Quote of the day: "We were trying to go in, and he left it over the plate. A guy like that, if you're going in, you've got to make sure you get it in. If you miss, you have to miss in, because if you miss over the plate, that'll happen." -- Chris Snyder

In the past dozen games, we've scored just 42 runs - that's only 3.5 per game. In the last six, that figure has dropped to a mere three per game, and that's largely why we're now in our first slump of the season. The Diamondbacks have now lost five of six - and worse still, they're all against our divisional rivals. That offensive outage was never more obvious that yesterday, in our first shutout of the season, wasting a heroic outing by EdGon, because we couldn't score a single run.

Slots #1-5 in the order didn't even manage a single hit, going a combined 0-for-16. We had only five of those in total, and one was from the pitcher and another came off the bench, as our starting position players were 3-for-27 at the plate. And though we did have our chances - notably in both the eighth and ninth innings, when we had the tying run just 90 feet away - first Quentin, then Callaspo were unable to come up with the goods. Quentin has now joined Young and Snyder in the sub-Uecker club, and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.

That left poor Edgar Gonzalez clutching the L, despite a Game Score of 70, the highest of his career. [The last D-backs pitcher to score 70+ and take the loss was Javier Vazquez, on July 6, 2005] He pitched seven innings, with the only black mark Bonds' homer, leading off the second, which proved to be the only offense San Franciso would need. Outside of that, EdGon gave up four other hits, all singles, walked none and struck out seven - currently, his K:BB ratio sits at a very healthy 21:5. With Micah Owings now on the DL, it looks like he'll stay on the roster when Randy returns - more performances like this, and we'll have a pleasant, but tough decision when Owings recovers.

He was at his most effective in the seventh; the first two Giants' hitters reached, and Byrnes' error put them at second and third with no outs. But Klesko grounded-out to Drew, while Molina and Winn went down swinging, to keep this a one-run game. That was the last of EdGon too, but what exactly is he supposed to do, when his team-mates manage two runners past first the entire time he's in the game? I know Zito is good, but when the heart of your order is 0-for-11 with a walk, a GIDP and 4 K's, some questions need to be asked.

What else is there to say about this one? I dunno. Yes, we were somewhat unlucky - the pitch before Bonds' homer was almost a harmless foul-out to Tracy. But there's only so far "luck" can take you, and I say again - our starting position players went 3-for-27. Hard to chalk that up to misfortune. Thanks to the Gameday Threaders: npineda, Wimb, suitsmetoATnT, DiamondbacksWIn, johngordonma, smartsnake (welcome!) and muu were around to "see" the game. Though this weekend game, against a division foe, was not being televised, at least here in Arizona. Good work there, Fox Sports, Channel 3 and the Diamondbacks, though our hitters probably thank you.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes, +8.9%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -16.4%

I'm just wondering if Melvin's earlier comment, that "These guys know it's their jobs," might be a bit of a double-edged sword. Perhaps the lack of incentive, that'd come from someone breathing down their necks, is causing them to be lackadaisical in their approach. Hell, when I've had a job with no pressure, I know my level of production goes down the tubes. All the stats indicate that Young, Drew and Quentin are much better hitters than we've seen to date; indeed, so are Tracy and Jackson, and they don't have youthful inexperience on their side.

There was a good piece by Robert S over on DBBP, which is worth repeating at length:

I'm looking at the 2006 hit charts for Drew and Jackson in Chase - almost every XBH from each was pulled. Q skews up-the-middle to left as well. Chris Young's minor league BIP data painted a similar picture. These are four guys who, as far as we can tell, have been told to fundamentally change their approach to some degree. In the case of Jackson, we have it in his own words: "I just felt like I was trying to guide the ball, I wasn't really just reacting," the D-backs first baseman said. "Last night was the best BP I've taken in a while. I was attacking the ball, not trying to place the ball in right field, just going with where the pitch is thrown."

Between this and Melvin jerking guys around in the lineup every game, I wonder if what the team really needs is to just be left alone to hit? Maybe it's time to take away Melvin's favorite toy and hand out some roles (even if they're arbitrary) for a couple of months, then start making adjustments. If for no other reason than to establish some level of comfort, unless I've got it all wrong and baseball players hate routine... I have no problem whatsoever with going against baseball convention if it works, but this approach ain't working and I don't think it ever really has - the platooning certainly hasn't been optimized. Getting the everyday players going has to take priority over keeping the bench fresh, or giving Melvin a chance to prove that he's making decisions.

The implication seems to be that hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is trying to change what has made these players so successful in the minors. Now, it can certainly be argued that the majors are a different place, and some adjustments are necessary - but I don't think that being an everyday player for the Diamondbacks is the time these changes should be made. If the franchise wants Seitzer to change players' core approaches, perhaps we should send him down to Tucson and let him do it there.

Despite this, Seitzer says, "I think this team's on the verge of getting really hot. We're getting good pitching, playing pretty good defense and we're having good at-bats, and that's all you can ask guys to do." We'll see: the only 'good at-bat' that really matters, is one where you reach base. I think it is significant that the only two people hitting well, are the two with most experience, in Byrnes and Hudson. Don't forget, Seitzer has never been a coach to a major-league club - and whatever he is doing to everyone else, it clearly isn't working at the moment.

Randy Johnson's first start has been confirmed for Tuesday against the Padres at Chase Field. That'll drop both Brandon Webb and Livan Hernandez back, meaning they'll be starting a week after their last outings. And Juan Cruz was also placed on the DL, with a strain of his upper triceps: I hope Dustin Nippert enjoyed his day in Tucson, because he's been called back up once again. On the other hand, Mike Schultz's stay with the team was also limited: one inning, and he's dispatched back down, to make way for today's starter. More on that in the Gameday Thread, which will be up in a minute...