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AZ something, Nationals not quite as many - Grinding Out a Win

Record: 5-2. Change on last season: +2

Quote of the day:
"If anyone comes to the door, I want you to shoot them."
"What if it's Dad?"
"Especially if it's your Dad."

    -- Grindhouse

I have to say, wonder if anyone under the age of 35 will actually understand what Grindhouse is spoofing: I'm sure cinema managers have been flooded with complaints about the crappy picture quality, from customers not realising that's deliberate, and what these two films are imitating. Nowadays, with almost any film available on pristine-quality, remastered DVD, the days of scratched prints and missing footage are gone. And they did happen: I remember seeing Mars Needs Women as part of a double-bill (with Queen of Outer Space) and the theater skipped an entire reel. That may just have been to save the audience from further punishment though.

Anyway, can't knock the value for money here, with two full-length features and a bunch of crazy trailers: I so want to see Werewolf Women of the S.S.! For my money, Rodriguez's Planet Terror was the better half, amazingly gory and played beautifully straight-faced. Death Proof was your typical Tarantino flick to begin with, very talky and self-indulgent - which got, frankly, a bit dull. However, there is one amazing car-chase in which stuntwoman Zoe Bell does stuff that defies belief on the hood of a car. It's all a bit contrived, but I can't argue it's utterly thrilling. Definitely not one for your maiden aunt, but my mother-in-law enjoyed it.

Oh, hang on: baseball? Well, at time of writing, all I've seen is the comments on the GameDay thread. So I know from those that a) we won, b) it got a bit dicey at the end, and c) Hernandez 2.0 had another decent outing. I can't say that any of those really come as a great deal of a surprise. Looking a little further, I'm taking a peek at the box-score and play-by-play...which reveals the following: a) we won, b) I think Brandon Lyon dodged an entire magazine of two-out bullets in the eighth, and c) Livan was really good.

To take the last of these first: how good was he? Only carrying a no-hitter up until there were two outs in the sixth good. Only seven shutout innings good. Only three hits, three walks and a lowering his season ERA to 1.29 good. Any questions? I hope Purple Row were watching, as that gives their man, Rodrigo Lopez, something to chase in his next outing in our little wager. Okay, the Rockies and Nationals are both full of young players, exactly the kind of hitters he should run rings round. Still, so far, Hernandez has been exactly as hoped: two outings, two quality starts.

The nearest he came to a real jam was putting two men on to lead off the seventh inning. But two fly outs and a ground-ball left the hapless Nationals scoreless again: they were 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position this series, until getting a knock off Brandon Lyon in the eighth. That was probably Washington's best chance of getting back into the game: they had Brandon Lyon reeling, getting as many two-out hits as Hernandez allowed all day. After Lyon retired the first two, the Nats had the tying run as far as second. However, he coaxed Fick to fly out to left, and Valverde struck out two in the ninth, to get his third save and secure the sweep with a 3-1 win.

Not a lot of offense: just enough. Congrats to Brian Barden, who got his first hit in the majors. Looks like he'll have about a week more before being replaced on the roster by Quentin. Eight hits and four walks, with a pair of the former each for Hudson and Hairston, while Stephen Drew continued his impressive on-base streak in the leadoff spot, reaching safely three times on a hit and a pair of free passes. That raised his on-base percentage to a healthy .423, with six hits and five walks in 26 plate appearances at the top of the order. Given his lack of experience there, this is doubly impressive, and he seems to be taking to his new role very nicely: even stole his first base of the year. Byrnes, meanwhile, swiped his fourth, which ties him for the NL lead with Ryan Freel - whom we'll see with the Reds in the next series.

Light Gameday thread traffic, though having bailed on it myself, in favor of three and a quarter hours of wholesome family entertainment [well, for three generations of our family...], I can't criticize anyone else for not showing up. Thanks to johngordonma, Englishdback, npineda, VIII, William K, Muu, AZDarkKnight, DiamondbacksWIn, unnamedDBacksfan, Devin and biggerunit1 for their thoughts. A 5-2 road trip is very, very acceptable: we never trailed during the 36 innings played in Washington, and indeed, the only time the Nationals tied us were for the first three frames on Friday.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]

A couple of injury issues to concern us. Cruz's rib is still playing him up: the problem started in Friday's game, and rendered him unavailable for today. Chris Young also came out of the game today having tweaked his groin, apparently while running to first. Hopefully neither of those will prove to be serious problems: if Young was to go down, I'm not sure who we'd end up using in the outfield. Byrnes in CF and Callaspo (or maybe Tracy?) in RF? Not a prospect I want to think about, unless that scenario becomes necessary.

New poll up: how do you reckon we should treat Luis Gonzalez on his return to Chase Field next Monday? Do we recognise his achievements in a Diamondbacks uniform, even though the parting was on slightly less than mutually agreeable terms? Or is he now to be treated as a turncoat, who sold himself to a divisional rival, and comes back to Phoenix bearing a grudge? We'll be at the game, and it'll be kinda weird, like attending a party where you know your ex-girlfriend is going to be there. Should you acknowledge her presence? How will she react? And when is she going to give you your damn CDs back? Ok, scratch the last one, perhaps. ;-)

And so we return to Phoenix, riding high at the top of the NL West. Not a bad view: in fact, only the Braves have a better record than us in all baseball right now. Sure, it's the first week of the season, it's a marathon, not a sprint, etc. etc. But I'm sure we'd rather be in this position, than parked at the bottom of the division, with a record of 1-5. Hey, if the playoffs began today, we'd be playing host to Cincinnati!