Record: 20-18. Change on last season: -1. Pace: 85-77.
Quote of the day: "One blooper. A broken bat. It happens." -- Livan Hernandez
The shortest outing by a Diamondbacks pitcher this year, but y'know what? Maybe it's just me, but it didn't actually feel that bad. Hernandez was about two x six inches away from keeping us in the game. With two outs in the fourth, Tracy couldn't come up with a bouncer hit to his left, and Scott then slammed a pitch for a three-run homer; earlier, Quentin had come up just short on a bloop two-run knock by Pence. That was perhaps the key hit, as Livan had almost escaped a bases-loaded, no out quagmire by striking out Lee and Scott, before the bleeder died into shallow right-center to turn a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit.
But really, this was a game where Hernandez was just not very effective, and couldn't pull off his usual Houdini trick. Eleven hits in four innings is just too much for anyone to give up, and not get lit-up. [Only one pitcher in the past 50 years has done that and allowed three runs or less: Ken Holtzman of Oakland on June 13, 1973] Still, there were a couple of other positives to take from the pitching. Juan Cruz came back and looked very good, throwing two perfect innings. And Brandon Medders allowed two home runs in his frame. A positive? Yes: I'm positive he should have been sent to Tucson rather than Nippert. That's now 8 homers in 16.2 innings; only two pitchers in the NL have allowed more. Put another way, eight of the 18 hits off him have left the building.
And it started so well, too. We scored two runs with one out in the first, on an RBI double by Tony Clark, and still had men on second and third. However, Drew struck out, and Carlos Quentin's struggles continued with a groundout - he went 0-for-3, and is now back to batting sub-Uecker, after his recent 4-for-29 streak. On the plus side, Stephen Drew did get a pair of hits, and Chris Young continued his hot streak with two more and an RBI. But we struck out a disturbing 13 times, one off a season-high in a nine-inning game. [The franchise record is eighteen, July 4, 2001. As a team, we've struck out 16 or more twenty times - but it's only happened once since 2002.]
I did get to see most of the game up at my sister-in-laws - between very tasty barbecue ribs, in which I over-indulged horribly. 8-O But it wasn't a great game after Houston put up that five spot. "Missed opportunities hurt D-backs," says the headline in today's Republic, adding "Sketchy fielding, lack of clutch hits aids Astros' victory." While, as noted, Livan was a bit unlucky, I think that's being very, very kind by omission to our pitching staff: I mean, the Astros had as many homers as we had runs. Won't win many games that way, needless to say.
A combination of our poor performance and the Suns game did indeed knock down GameDay Thread attendance, especially after the five-run inning. Thanks to Muu, VIII, unnamedDBacksfan, DBACKS KICK ARSE, Wimb, singaporedbacksfan, biggerunit1, AZDarkKnight, soco and DiamondbacksWIn for their comments. I still don't actually know how the Suns did: they were winning, I think, but it'll have to wait until we see the Sunday paper to get the full story on that. And since I'm going back to bed in about ten minutes, that might be a while. ;-)
Ah, yes, biggerunit1. Is he AzPhan? Signs point to yes, says my Magic 8-ball. As soco noted, his last post prior to this game was April 24; the AzPhan account was created April 24. Biggerunit1's account was created from a Cox IP address; AzPhan's account was created from a Cox email address. Conclusive? Not quite - hey, we have Cox too. But enough to get my suspicions very high - and as a result, biggerunit1 is hereby forbidden from creating diaries until further notice. He may comment in existing ones; however, on a very short leash. The first mention of 3.6+2 and I'm reaching for the button. :-)
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Young, +14.2%
God-emperor of suck: Livan Hernandez, -54.2%
Oh-oh. No sooner is Tracy back, than he might be gone again: "Melvin said Tracy probably was not going to start today's game, anyway - Robby Hammock will start at third against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez - but Melvin could not say for sure whether Tracy will miss additional time." Melvin added, "We're in a tough spot, because we're pretty limited with the infielders that we have now. When it sounded like he was a little bit sore after that last at-bat, we couldn't chance it." I think Tracy should probably have gone on the DL when he originally suffered the injury, and healed properly.
Maybe we can get Justin Upton to play 3B instead? He's being promoted from high-A to AA baseball today: he was hitting .352 for Visalia with an OPS of .999. After a disappointing first season, it's good to see him producing at the expected levels. Double-A will be a somewhat different challenge, however. Still, bear in mind that the kid is still only a teenager: he won't turn twenty until August 25th of this year. If he performs well at this level, he could be up in Tucson by the end of the season and, quite possibly, challenging for a position next year in Spring Training - we will likely be looking to replace Eric Byrnes. Upton, Young and Quentin on Opening Day 2008? Could be. Don't forget about Carlos Gonzalez too, though he is struggling at Mobile, batting only .211 in 123 AB's.