Record: 1-2. Change on last season: -1
Quote of the day: "I don't know, something about the big leagues... I just don't feel comfortable and it shouldn't be that way. It should be the most exciting time and it's not." -- former D-back, the very unlamented J.D.Durbin
Memo to Josh Byrnes. Pitchers who make it to the majors, but haven't thrown there since 2004 and are subsequently dumped by their club...probably not any good. If there's a lesson to take from today, it's going to be that one, as J.D.Durbin delivered what was among the most wretched performances ever by a Diamondback pitcher - and certainly counts as the worst ever on his debut. He entered in what was, at the time, still a close game: 4-2 to the Rockies. By the time he left, he'd faced ten batters, retired only two of them and seven of the other eight had come around to score.
Well done. You must get up very early.
Retribution was swift and decisive, with Durbin being designated for assignment within hours of his abysmal performance. As a result, Nippert - expected to leave to make way for Owings - will stay with the team as a reliever, though Melvin made it clear he still may get chances as a starter. The report says he threw "several good changeups" Wednesday, a third pitch which will definitely improve his chances of escaping the bullpen. Meanwhile, if Durbin gets picked off by another team or traded (okay, like that's gonna happen!), we will have a brand new entry, #1 with a bullet, on the 10 Least Significant D-backs list.
It did at least deflect some attention from another major first-inning wobble by our starting pitcher: see also Webb and Hernandez 2.0. This time, Doug Davis allowed three runs in the first, but somehow managed to escape without damage to his ERA, thanks to a pair of errors by Conor Jackson. There can't be many cases where a pitcher allows thirteen men to reach base (eight hits and five walks) over five innings, and yet doesn't allow any earned runs... Even Davis admitted the walks were "inexcusable."
To his credit, just like Hernandez last night, Davis settled down somewhat after the troublesome first. Still, there was only one inning where the Rockies did not get men into scoring position. That's hardly a long-term strategy for success, and certainly, this one could have been dead and buried as a contest, a great deal earlier than Durbin's meltdown, given some more timely hitting by Colorado. Overall, they left 14 men on base, which is quite impressive in just eight innings.
In some aspects, our hitters didn't do badly: taking off the pitcher, all told they were 10-for-34, which is a .294 clip. However, there was not one single walk, and that allowed Rodrigo Lopez to gallop through seven innings and 27 hitters on only 76 pitches - the average plate-appearance lasted just 2.8 pitches. [In contrast, Davis took 105 pitches (at 3.9 per batter) to get through a mere five frames. As a result, our bullpen was once again pressed into unexpectedly early action: overall, our starters averaged 5.2 innings per game in this series, which is not what we expected.] Byrnes and Montero had two hits each: that's EB's third multi-hit game of the series, and he's batting .500 for the season so far, at 7-for-14.
Curious bit of lineup construction by Melvin, putting Callaspo - whom as far as I know has basically no experience at the position, in his entire professional career - into right-field, with Byrnes moving back to his more regular location at center. Seems slightly reminiscent of the 2005 experiment, which involved Tracy starting 47 games there. That Chad didn't suck totally there was all to his credit, but it says something about the lack of outfield depth at the moment, that we need to resort to such a move. I know we'd like to get Callaspo's bat in the lineup: not quite sure this is the best way to do it.
Jackson had a nightmare at first base - and that was just the opening inning. Though in his defense, he did seem to get screwed by umpire Tim McClelland, who didn't see Jackson tag Carroll on a pickoff play. However, no such excuse for his second error of the frame, when he airmailed a throw to third over Tracy's head. He also failed to dig out a throw from Drew later on, but as that was on the second part of an attempted line-out double-play, everyone escaped without any errors being handed out.
But if the D-backs performance here was somewhat unsatisfactory, with a combination of "rookie mistakes" (a kind phrase for unacceptable ineptness - isn't that why we have minor-league teams, so they learn not to make rookie mistakes?) and flat-out suckitude blowing the froth off this season, the same can not be said about the GameDay threads. Rolling past 200 for the third straight occasion, on a weekday afternoon? Priceless. Thanks to VIII, unnamedDBacksfan, DiamondbacksWIn, johngordonma, IndyDBack, cavscout, newcomer Muu (welcome!), Ben, suitsmetoATnT, npineda, DBACKS KICK ARSE, AZDarkKnight and soco: you all deserved better.
About the kindest thing you can say, is probably that there were no base-running blunders today. That's hardly any help when just about every other aspect of the Diamondbacks game was entirely unacceptable. And the series, which started so promisingly on Opening Day, ends with a whimper, licking of wounds and a 1-2 record. We need to take three of four against the Nationals to come back with a winning record. Not impossible, but a sight harder than it should have been.
The Nationals will be on a high, too, having picked up their first win of the season courtesy of...Jorge Julio! Yep, he came out for Florida in the ninth, with a two-run lead and three outs away from sweeping Washington. He promptly coughed that up on five hits while retiring one batter: doesn't exactly make my fantasy league acquisition of him seem like a work of genius, but it's a long season, so plenty of time for, ah, him to turn things around. Or, alternatively, blow a few more saves. There's nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction from seeing a player you've got rid of, sucking for another team.
Speaking of which, Gonzalez is batting .200 for the Dodgers so far, having gone 2-for-10 in the opening series. Compare and contrast our left-fielder Scott Hairston, 4-for-13. I think when I kick the Diamondbacks' Watch section of this site off after the weekend, that'll be one of the components: last year's LF vs. the combined stats for this year's model. The Lopez/Hernandez bet will be another: suggestions are welcome for what additional comparisons I should do over the season. Did like the suggestion of making the 'D-backs season' poll a monthly one, and following the results. At least until that gets too depressing...
One thing I forgot to mention about the hockey last night: on going into the arena, we had to pass through metal detectors. I'm not sure if this is standard for the venue, or if hockey fans are a particularly tough crowd, but it's something I certainly hope never needs to be implemented at Chase Field. At least they didn't confiscate my shampoo or hair gel. ;-)