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AZ 3, Rockies 1 - More of the Usual

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Record: 22-20. Change on last season: -2. Pace: 85-77.

Quote of the day: "As you watch him pitch, you realize how much pitching is like real estate — location, location, location." -- Tony Clark on Livan Hernandez

It's beginning to get to the stage where I no longer believe we can score more than four runs in a game. I'm convinced that this - or scoring more than two runs in an inning - is a myth, a fairy story invented by parents to fool gullible children. "Yes, Virginia: there was a game when the Diamondbacks actually posted solid offensive numbers. The Easter Bunny smacked a two-run homer, Santa Claus cleared the bases with a pinch-hit double and Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction were paraded around the outfield during the seventh-inning stretch. Hey! Where are you going?!? Put that Nintendo Wii down, you little brat, and listen to me!"

The Diamondbacks streak of offensive futility reached 15 games. That ties the franchise record (July 19-August 3, 2003), and it's beginning to reach historic proportions. Since the franchise began in 1998, only six teams have had longer runs:

  • 18 games
    Montreal: Sept 27, 2003-April 22, 2004
    San Diego: Sept 13, 1998-April 9, 1999
  • 17 games
    Detroit: August 28-Sept 15, 2002
    Tampa Bay: Sept 3-Sept 22, 2000
  • 16 games
    Washington: July 17-August 3, 2005
    Milwaukee: May 20-June 8, 2004

It's not great company for the 2007 Diamondbacks. Of the four teams who didn't do it across seasons, none managed a winning record, and the average was only 68 wins. If we get through the Pirates series with the run intact - and who'd bet against that? - we'll be entering seriously epic territory: just two teams since 1972 have gone past 18 games, the '86 Mariners (19 games) and the '92 Orioles (21). Here's the full list since 1957. But at least we're consistent: that's now 13 games in a row scoring between two and four runs, the longest streak in the majors over that time.

Anyway, glad to see us post a win on this one, not least because it should get Livan Hernandez back in the lead of our bet with Purple Row, 7.5 to 6.2. After the last, horrific outing, I was concerned about him, but he was back to his usual, scintillating best, as we stormed to a blowout victory. There isn't enough sarcasm in the world for the second half of that sentence. But maybe Coors isn't what it used to be: the entire series totalled only fifteen runs by both sides, which is the same number as the last game we played here, back on April 4th. Mind you, that was when both us and the Rockies had an offense.

I'm largely relying on published reports for this one, since I didn't actually realise the game was on until about the seventh-inning stretch. That would be when I looked at the site, and saw 22 comments on my last post. For a second, I thought AzPhan had returned. ;-S Nine hits for Arizona, which is actually almost a high for April (we reached ten a couple of times), and we had more walks than strikeouts (5-4) for only the second time this month. Signs of hope? Jackson and Hudson had two walks each, Young, Byrnes and Hernandez v2.0 all had a pair of hits, and we had a key pinch-hit RBI by Clark.

Livan delivered seven innings of one-run pitching, doing his usual job of pitching around base-runners, particularly in the fourth when he walked Atkins and Hawpe to get to Torrealba. Heart-attacks in the dugout, no doubt, but if you are sure you can get a certain hitter out, roll the dice and go for it. Lyon and Valverde both brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth, but kept the lead.

Thanks to Ben for kicking off the impromptu GameDay Thread in my absence. Also to unnamedDBacksfan, webby17, johngordonma, DiamondbacksWIn, Englishdback, AZDarkKnight and Wimb, for tracking it down in the end of yesterday's GameDay report - before I relocated it to a proper post! East-coast series this weekend, so that means more early games: 4.05pm start this afternoon, for example. Fans should note that this game's coverage will be split across two channels because of the Suns game. See here for details - though those like myself who have Cox, seem to be out of luck...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Livan Hernandez, +37.8%
God-emperor of suck: Carlos Quentin, -11.4%

Looks like we may be seeing more of Miguel Montero, as Melvin likes what he's seeing. "The way he's swinging the bat and the way we've had trouble scoring runs, he's been giving us some pretty quality at-bats. I wouldn't argue against trying to get him some more consistent time, maybe try to play him two or three days in a row." Certainly doesn't hurt that Chris Snyder is batting .189, which ranks him 137th of 142 NL players (75+ plate-appearances). He'll still get to catch Webb, however.

Minor bits and pieces. Scott Hairston's wrist revealed no fracture in an X-ray, but they'll probably give him a couple of days of to see how things progress. Jason Smith made his first start for AZ, giving Drew a day off at short-stop: as expected, Donnie Sadler was designated for assignment. If that's the end of Sadler, he'll be the first player to get just one at-bat in a season for the Diamondbacks since Ken Huckaby, Rob Ryan and Juan Sosa all did in 2001. And Justin Upton continues his hot start in Mobile: he was kept homerless last night for the first time, but is still 6-for-13 with 4 HR and 10 RBI now. Baseball America drools over our phenom.

A quick lesson on Value Over Replacement Score, by request of AZDarkKnight. The formal definition is "The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute" over the same number of innings. In the case of pitchers, that would mean "prevent" over innings pitched, of course. The estimate is that an all-replacement-level team would hit about .235/.300/.356, allow 5.85 runs per game and over 162 games would go 44-118.

For hitters, it's important to note that position is taken into consideration: the "replacement level" of production is higher for first-basemen, say, than catchers. It's also adjusted for park factors too. A zero level VORP player would be one who could, basically, be replaced by a Triple-A one. You can get negative VORP, where you'd be better off with a Triple-A player: see Russ Ortiz 2005 (-18.3) and 2006 (.5.1). Those who want more detail can find it here. Those who want much more detail can find it here.

Nice article on the D-backs packing for road trips. Different players, different approaches, but the most telling comment is from Stephen Drew, who says: "My wife packs for me. Thanks, honey." This tells us three things. Stephen Drew is married. Stephen Drew is happily married. Stephen Drew knows to publicly acknowledge this and keep the missus happy. Mrs. SnakePit was very impressed. Meanwhile, Jose Valverde actually brings his wife, and new-born child, along on road trips. I wonder if Alberto Callaspo also made it a family thing?