Record 16-14. Change on last season: -1. Pace: 86-76
Quote of the day: "I don't second guess the pitch. I'm sure (Valverde) doesn't feel great about the outcome." -- Bob Melvin
Damion Easley. Damion frickin' Easley! The man who, last year, managed just three home runs and an anaemic .303 OBP in 45 games at Chase Field, when playing for Arizona. Seeing him actually in a major-league uniform again came as a surprise. Having him hit the three-run homer off Jose Valverde in the ninth inning, which turned a 4-3 lead into a 6-4 deficit, left me wanting to slash my wrists. Or Papa Grande's wrists. Or Bob Melvin's wrists. Or Tony Clark's wrists. Yes, it's a veritable party of self-mutilation in Phoenix tonight. I'll bring the Joy Division CDs.
Oh, my mistake. The Melvin quote above isn't actually from this game. It dates back to last May, the 28th - but it's perhaps an understandable error, because it was the day he blew his second save of that season, picking up the loss while retiring just the one batter, just like he did last night. The scary thing is, his next successful save opportunity wasn't for three months - because Valverde melted down thereafter, and ended up with the Sidewinders. There's no quote available from Valverde today: ho left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters. As Nick Piecoro pointedly noted in the Republic, Tony Clark sat by his locker and made no effort to dodge questions.
How will Jose cope with this disaster? That's the big question. It's not his first blown save - but "blown" doesn't begin to describe this, dear me, no. The save was cut, chopped, stomped on, passed through a wood-chipper, stomped on some more, then blown, and finally had its head cut off and a holy wafer stuffed into its mouth. This save has ceased to be. Six batters faced; one retired; all the other five came around to score. Valverde's ERA almost tripled, exploding from 1.64 to 4.76. Well done. You must get up very early.
His next outing - especially if comes during this series - promises to be a huge mental hurdle. Will he deal with failure better than last year, when one blown save bred another, creating a death spiral that ended up in Tucson? Only time will tell. But I imagine that Tony Peña and Brandon Lyon should be on standby. The former picked Jose Reyes off first to end the eighth [having a 96 mph pickoff move probably helps], while Lyon dealt competently and effectively with the Mets 2-3-4 hitters in the eighth, retiring them in order. Unfortunately, we got to see them all again in the ninth... :-(
Okay, it wasn't perhaps entirely Valverde's fault. The results were bloated by Nippert allowing both inherited runners to score. Tony Clark, brought in as an alleged "defensive replacement" by Bob Melvin for the ninth, made a Buckneresque play on the first ball he saw, allowing - of all people - Shawn Green to reach base. After going 0-2 on Paul Lo Duca, Valverde got squeezed by home-plate umpire Gary Darling on at least two pitches, and ended up walking him. Still, a good closer shrugs that off, and goes after the next guy. Serving up a homer to Damion Easley - who has only 38 since the end of 2001 - is unforgiveable.
That was merely the third of three leads blown by Arizona in the game. Drew singled home Byrnes in the second, for a 1-0 lead, but the Mets scored two in the fourth. Snyder hit a two-run homer in the fifth, but Beltran finally got pitched to by Owings in the sixth [after two walks on ten pitches] and blasted it 442 ft into the right-field picnic tables. Hudson's third homer of the year gave us the lead in the bottom half [he's 30-for-30 in getting on base, the fourth-best streak in franchise history], and zeroes then followed until the top of the ninth, when the wheels fell off.
Difficult to take many positives from this one, after what could be the most miserable 30 minutes of baseball I've ever endured [I mean: Damion frickin' Easley] Nice to see Micah Owings outduel future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. Stephen Drew had three hits - half the entire team's - and made some nice plays in the field. But why are we persisting in putting Chris Young - season OBP .255, easily the worst of any regular - at the top of the order? Better off with Quentin there: at least he takes walks.
Mostly the east-coast crew in the GameDay thread last night, for some reason: DBACKS KICK ARSE, VIII, flyingdutchman, johngordonma [please see here for an explanation of "Pwn", as in Micah Pwnings], andrewinnewyork, peeklay, suitsmetoATnT and nargel. Thanks to them for their comments in what can only be described as one of the most dispiriting losses I've experienced: coming on the heels of the stunning victory last time we were at Chase, it confirms what I suspected, that this is gonna be a roller-coaster season.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Snyder, +15.2%
God-emperor of suck: Three guesses, -76.5%
Arizona streaky? I think so. When we win, we tend to win in bunches; and when we lose...the same. We're thirty games in, and the Diamondbacks now have precisely two streaks of one game. That's also eleven losses in a row at Chase Field to the Mets now. The last time we won here, on May 11, 2004, Bob Brenly was the manager...and Jose Valverde struck out the Mets for a perfect ninth.
Maybe things would have been different if I had gone and got Mrs. SnakePit the chocolate ice-cream she wanted in the seventh. I made a "dutiful husband" offer, but being honest, it was one of those "hold me back" gestures. Maybe that angered the baseball gods; or perhaps it was the idiots trying to start the wave as the ninth began.
Crowd of less than 20,000: and that's on a night when the Suns aren't playing. Lot of loud, noxious opposition fans there, braying "Let's Go, Mets!" at every opportunity - which made the ninth inning almost unendurable.
We sat a couple of rows back from our "official" seats for the first couple of innings: our row was jammed, mostly with Mets fans, but two behind it was entirely empty. Mrs. SnakePit likes room. :-) Had to move to our regular seats in the third: would perhaps have slunk out after New York's second three-run homer in the ninth, but that would have meant squeezing past the Mets fans...
Brandon Lyon likes Rob Zombie. Which is cool. And Dustin Nippert is tall.
Bizarre stunt of the day. Baxter and Mr. Met, both riding giant chicken costumes having a race across the outfield, with Baxter lassoing Mr. Met and dragging him to the ground.
The kid contestants in the hot-dog race are now dressed up in hot-dog costumes, as they bounce up and down on top of the dugout. "Surreal" is something of an understatement, it looks like something Ken Russell would have dreamed up after too much pizza.
Finally, my favorite anonymous source writes, "Bonds will not have time to break the HR record (although they really better get moving as he is rolling). They have a lot of shit on him through the Mitchell investigation and this Met bat boy thing is going to blow the hinges off the door. Sounds like Selig-speak to me... Love to see it though. The front office love this team and think fans will get on board as they stay competitive as there is not a truly un-likeable player on the team (other than Randy and he has icon status)." Avoiding melt-downs like last night might help there though. :-(