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AZ 5, Padres 10 - Imperfect Game

Record: 10-11. Change on last season: 0

Quote of the day: "The one thing I take from it is that it's pretty uncharacteristic of me to walk batters and hit some guys. That's not me. Tip your hat to them. They took advantage of it." -- Randy Johnson

Safe to say, I think, that didn't go as well as hoped. But, by all reports, Johnson's start was by no means a disaster, with the problems largely caused by one pitch to Gonzalez, and fatigue then setting in during the fifth. The former is inevitably going to happen occasionally, the latter should improve with time. "I like to think my endurance will be a lot better and my location will stay with me a little better as the game progresses," said Johnson, and that seems reasonable enough to me.

It also didn't help that he was, by most accounts, getting badly squeezed by the home-plate umpire. To quote azdbacks51 from the first inning, "The ump is going to piss Randy off if he doesn't start calling these strikes," DBACKS KICK ARSE made a similar comment, as did Tom Candiotti on the post-game show last night, and that matches reports from eye-witnesses at the game. Though he was at least consistent: Wells said, "Everything I threw looked like a meatball. I got lucky." Randy, of course, was far too much of a man to say anything. :-)

A myopic umpire doesn't help a pitcher like Johnson, who - like most - needs to use the whole strike zone for best effect. When a hitter can afford to sit dead-red, knowing that just about anything else will be called a ball, it definitely tilts the balance away from the pitcher. But the velocity seemed fine, hitting 96 mph at one point, with the low-nineties being a consistent figure, and the first inning was classic Johnson, ending on a beautiful strike-out of Mike Giles.

So, could it have been better? Hell, yes. But it really didn't help that Dana Eveland came into a close game (6-5 at that point) and retired one of the four batters he faced, or that Brandon Medders threw the ball away for a two-base error, allowing Khalil Greene to motor all the way around and score an inside the park homer. After those two had removed most of the steam from the game, Nippert was effective, throwing 1.2 innings of one-hit ball, with three K's; not quite sure why Valverde was pulled out of the bullpen to get the final out.

Wells was certainly not brilliant: indeed, his Game Score was a couple of points lower than Johnson. Melvin shook his lineup dice once again, and this time, came up with Chris Young in the leadoff spot. That worked out pretty well, as he reached three times on two hits and a walk, though 19 pitches in five at-bats is still lower than I'd like. And two of those appearances were decided on the first pitch. But three first-pitches were also taken - which I think probably matches his total for the season so far..

Tonight's "Melvin is an idiot" play, would be asking Stephen Drew to bunt after Young led off the game with a single. He popped up to third, and O-Dawg then grounded into his first double-play of the night, to kill the inning. Drew did have a pair of RBIs, and along with Young and Tracy, did have two hits. Quentin his his first home-run of the season, to give us a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Drew and Hudson had back-to-back RBI triples in the fifth, to bring us within one run, but the bullpen then melted, though we did get the tying run to the on-deck circle in the ninth, before Trevor Hoffman came in. Exit light; enter night. Oh, hang on, that's Metallica, not AC/DC. :-)

Seems like there were more people in the Gameday Thread than at Chase: not quite the lowest attendance ever for the Padres [that's 18,012 on May 16th last year], but less than twenty thousand, suggesting Johnson will not prove a box-office bonanza. Of course, there was a bit of competition for local sports attention last night... Anyway, thanks to: Ben, johngordonma, VIII, DBACKS KICK ARSE, Goose, JMEnglish, DiamondbacksWIn, singaporedbacksfan, Zephon, azdbacks51, William K, seton hall snake pit, TheMainMan and soco. Makes for an entertaining thread, even if the enthusiasm left a bit after the fifth inning...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Stephen Drew, +14.7%
God-emperor of suck: Randy Johnson, -42.7%
[despite the two double-plays, Hudson's triple left him in marginal positive territory at +1.9%]

Disappointing, yes. Not quite the start we hoped for, certainly. But there was enough there to make this not quite the apocalypse - and, as was mentioned in the comments, any crowing from Yankees fans will be muted by their presence in last-place of the AL East this morning. So they're hardly in any position to gloat. We meanwhile, will regroup and hope for better this evening in what promised to be a real pitcher's duel - and this time, those involved are on the other side of forty...