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AZ 3, Astros 1 - The Young and the Scoreless

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Record: 20-17. Change on last season: 0. Pace: 88-74.

Quote of the day: "I hit one tonight for a lot of people. It was a great time to have a good game. My family would have been just as happy if I'd have gone 0 for 4." -- Chris Young

Curse you, Carlos Lee! By crossing home plate as the second out in the ninth was made and ending the shutout, you spoiled a perfectly-good headline for today's story. But I'll show you: I'm going to use it anyway! Hahahah! That'll teach you! [Well, that's the May quota of exclamation marks used up...] Can't complain too much, not after Brandon Webb delivered the first complete game by any Diamondbacks pitcher this year, scattering six hits, with just the one run against him. He walked one, and struck out ten, reaching double-digits for the eleventh time in his career. The resulting game score was 80 - here's how that fits into his top ten performances.

  1. Sept 9, 2006: one-hit CG vs. St. Louis [Game Score=90]
  2. May 20, 2006: four-hit CG with 8 K's vs. Atlanta [86]
  3. Sept 15, 2006: six hit CG, 10 K, 0 BB vs. Colorado [81]
  4. July 2, 2006: four hit CG, 7 K's @ Oakland [81]
  5. May 11, 2007: six hit CG, 10 K's @ Houston [80]
  6. July 17, 2003: two hits in 8 IP @ LA Dodgers [80]
  7. April 27, 2003: debut, seven SO innings, 10 K's in Shea [80]
  8. Sept 27, 2005: two hits and 7 K's in 7 IP @ LA Dodgers [79]
  9. May 26, 2006: complete game, seven hits @ Cincinnati [77]
  10. Sept 26, 2006: three hits and 6 K's in 8 IP @ San Francisco [76]

I was, frankly, surprised to see him go the whole way. He was already at 102 pitches by the end of the seventh, but the Astros helped significantly: the seven hitters he faced in the last two innings saw only 16 pitches total. Still, he ended up at 118, and he hasn't had a longer outing than that in almost three years, since posting his career high of 124 on July 26, 2004 - oddly, in the same park against the same team. [That time, he only lasted 7.1 innings]

The other half of the headline was making a return to home territory, Chris Young going 3-for-4 with two homers. He's 10-for-22 in the past week, and is getting his stats up into respectable territory, now hitting .250 with an OPS of .767, the second best figure for an NL rookie (min 50 PA's), albeit a long way behind Josh Hamilton's .930. I've added him and Pwnings to make the Rookie of the Year section for the D-backs watch in the sidebar. If he keeps hitting with power like he has been of late, he'll not be long for the leadoff spot.

Chad Tracy also had a good day, with three doubles, the last of which was the shortest ground-rule double I've ever seen. It was a bloop that landed just fair about 150 feet from home-plate, eluding three converging Astros, before spin/bouncing sideways into the stands. The rest of the offense though...two hits in their 24 at-bats combined. Admittedly, four of those did belong to Brandon Webb, but that's ten games in a row scoring four runs or less. The good news is, in six of those, our pitchers have restricted the opposition to three or less, including (obviously) all four games we've won.

A fine GameDay Thread, busy and entertaining. Wimb, johngordonma, DiamondbacksWIn, icecoldmo, soco, Muu, Frank, azdbacks51, TheMainMan, Otacon and VIII were all in attendance, debating the merits or otherwise of Chris Young. johngordonma said Young, "has flashes, but he's certainly made his share of knuckleheaded rookie mistakes this year," while Otacon reckons, "on pace to hit 29 (HR). He has the so-called tools to achieve that (his bat speed, just wow) and his minor league numbers suggested that kind of production... (In CF) Aside from two, albeit badly, misplayed balls he's been awesome." Discuss. :-)

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Brandon Webb, +52.8%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Snyder, -13.8%

More info out on the Callaspo arrest, etc. but I'm putting that over in the appropriate diary to keep it all together, for those interested. I do notice the strong show of support in the poll for him thus far, with almost half of those polled thinking no action should be taken until the case is dealt with. Only one person thus far has voted for his immediate release: I'd like to thank Mrs. Callaspo for stopping by. :-)

We pulled up Donnie Sadler to replace him in the meantime; turns out the restricted list doesn't count against the 40-man roster, so no problems there. He won't see much playing time as #25; we haven't seen #24 (Hammock) get any action for almost two weeks now, though he will probably get more games. Another roster move was also made, with Juan Cruz being activated off the DL. Dustin Nippert was sent down to Tucson, where'll likely go into the rotation. Brandon Medders, inexplicably, remains with the club.

Interesting, in the light of the furore surrounding Roger Clemens' "one day in five" contract with the Yankees, to read today that Randy Johnson is not accompanying the team on the trip to Houston. No injury, they just didn't want to put him through a pointless trip, and risk aggravating his back. Yeah, I guess even if you're flying first-class, when you're 6'10", those airline seats must be murder.

Time for a quick scurry around various stories of interest, a.k.a. a link dump:

  • D-Backs target Hispanic market - "One roadblock has been the difficulty of translating "Diamondbacks" into Spanish. The team studied the issue so it could create Spanish-language jerseys like those worn by the Giants (Gigantes) and Brewers (Cerveceros) but could come up with nothing better than "Diamantes" or Diamonds." Hey, what's wrong with Los D-backs?

  • Scherzer, D-backs unsure of next step - As we head towards the 2007 draft on June 7, let's check in with 2006 1st-round pick, Max Scherzer, still unsigned. He's playing indy-ball in Fort Worth, and reckons he's got better since last year. I'm sure that's what Scott Boras is telling him, anyway. The D-backs position: "We will continue to scout him and stay in contact with his representative," says Josh Byrnes.

  • Jackson struggling early - Having proven an easy winner in our "Most Disappointing Player" poll, with 48% of the vote, this article examines Jackson's early problems. Not much in the way of explanation though: "For three or four days (last week), I was hitting the ball hard. Even before that, when I was hitting the ball hard, I had nothing to show for it." Would have to check his batting average on balls in play to verify that, but I don't have a source on that for hitters.

  • Infield Defense -- Back to Basics - The Hardball Times looks at infield defense. Lots of stuff here for us stats geeks, but some nice pictures for those who didn't do Statistics 1.0.1, on where infield balls get hit and who fields them. The stats for AZ last year put our defense a a little above average, but this graph suggests Gold Glover Hudson was a weakness, particularly going to his right. [The blue line shows MLB average % of outs in each zone, the red line what we did.]

  • Baseball: A Glossary - "Average fielder: Candidate to get hit in the head with a fly ball. Below average fielder: Player who has been hit in the head with a fly ball."