Record: 16-15. Change on last season: -2. Pace: 84-78.
Quote of the day: "I can't fault him for trying to be aggressive and get something going for us. We've been a little bit stagnant offensively, especially with runners in scoring position." -- Bob Melvin
I just didn't have any enthusiasm for Friday night's game after Randy Johnson gave up a home-run to Julio Franco. [I almost wrote "Jess Franco" there, which might amuse the two people out there that know who Jess Franco is.] Franco is aged 48 years, seven months and eleven days, and is the oldest player to play in the major-leagues since Minnie Minoso's stunt appearances for the White Sox in 1976 and 1980 - and his career really ended in 1964. You have to go back to Hoyt Wilhelm in 1972 for an older, legitimate player, and Franco will pass him by season's end to become the all-time champion, gimmicky one-offs aside. I mean, Franco faced Gaylord Perry, f'heavens sake - three games in the 1983 season, fact fans.
He'll be getting his AARP card in the mail next year, so seeing him and Johnson, possessing a combined age of almost 93, slugging it out, was a bit like watching two geriatric uncles participate in a drunken staredown at a family wedding. And seeing your uncle get his ass handed to him by your wife's uncle...well, that'd just be depressing. Actually, wherever I went last night, it seemed that old people followed me. I turned the game off at that point, and switched over to Friday Night Smackdown to get some youthful aggression. Just in time to see The Undertaker. Who is 42. :-S
Only flicked back sporadically from then on: did catch Orlando Hudson's homer that wasn't, to give us a little bit of hope. Really surprised the Mets didn't protest it, but I think that probably says something about us, that they didn't feel the need. I also note silence from Bob Melvin on the topic, who has bleated in the about those calls "always" burning us. Drew walked to lead off the ninth, meaning we got the tying run to the plate, but Quentin was struckout on three pitches by Billy Wagner, and Hairston hit the second pitch he saw into a double-play, sending Arizona to their four straight loss.
The improvement in results shown by Randy in his past couple of starts came to an abrupt halt, as he allowed five runs in seven innings, on nine hits and a walk. On the plus side, he K'd seven, and allowed one walk, but was burned by the long-ball, Paul Lo Duca going deep in addition to Franco. Said Johnson, "Overall I feel like I'm getting there. Nobody wants to hear that, but I'm coming off back surgery, and the strides that I'm making are progressing to where I want to be. In the meantime I'm taking some lumps, but hopefully things get to the point where I'm fairly comfortable." Consistent quality starts. That'll be the point where I'm fairly comfortable.
The offense didn't help much, admittedly. Jackson and Hudson had a pair of hits each, while Drew reached safely three times, on a hit and two walks. However, those were the only two free passes we collected all night, in contrast to the nine K's we picked up: Byrnes and Quentin both went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. We hit into three double-plays, and Chris Young's aggression also hurt us - he overslid second-base and was tagged out, leading to the quote above. Yes, Bob: actually, you can fault him. In fact, it's your job and duty as manager to do so. There should be no place for such dumb blunders on your team, so let's see him sit today. Somehow, I doubt it'll happen.
Thanks to those who showed more...something than I did last night (stamina? stubborness? idiocy? loyalty? Could be any of the above) and gutted out the twelfth straight loss to the Mets in Phoenix. I appreciate the contributions of DBACKS KICK ARSE, singaporedbacksfan, flyingdutchman, VIII, unnamedDBacksfan, johngordonma, Goose, icecoldmo, Xeifrank and kylerkenner, as the Diamondbacks continued their latest run, be it of defeats or victories.
Just as a note on how streaky they've been. To try and measure this, I looked at last season, and how good their performance in the previous game was, as a predictor of the next result. For example, if you went WLLLWWWLLW, in five of those games, the result was the same as the day before. Last year, you could have predicted 82 of 161 games that way (you couldn't predict the opener), or 50.9%. Thus far, it would be 21 of 30, or 70.0%. Heck, with those kind of odds, it's worth taking the drive to Vegas. Be interesting to see what happens tonight, as Xeifrank is calling for a win, while the streak says we should lose. I'm hoping Xeifrank is right. :-)
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Stephen Drew, +11.8%
God-emperor of suck: Randy Johnson, -22.4%
No sign of Tracy yet. The Diamondbacks haven't put him onto the DL, but he he has been reduced to hitting off a tee, with throwing in particular still an issue. Hopefully, he'll be back soon, because it certainly doesn't help our weak offense that stand-in Alberto Callaspo has been sucking hard lately. He had a single last night, but even with that, is an awful 2-for-33 since April 18, with as many walks as K's, which is most un-Callaspolike. "For the first time in a while, he's having some struggles right now and he's pressing like some of our guys are," Melvin said.
Hence the new poll, Orlando Hudson having run away with Player of the Month honors for April (scoring 83% of the votes, no-one else even reaching double-figures). But thus far, there have been rather too many whose performances have been far short of what was hoped and/or expected. Most of these have been on the hitting side, with our young players the most obvious cases: Stephen Drew is about the only one thus far to have hit acceptably. As a result, the overall team OPS is below .700, almost fifty points worse than our opponents (.697 vs. .746) - and the call to "Free Scott Hairston" has taken on another, somewhat darker meaning...
Interesting, if somewhat ominous, headline to the above Republic article: "Peña pitching well enough to close if needed." It doesn't really contain much in the way of meat, as far as suggesting Valverde is about to be replaced, but points out the hefty number of base-runners Jose has allowed, and the implication is, he's lucky this was only his second blown save. It's nice to have options, and it's true that Peña would likely be the next in line for the job, if Valverde did (touch wood he doesn't) have another May meltdown.
Finally, rather more information on the death of Cardinals' pitcher Josh Hancock: turns out he was at twice the legal alcohol limit, speeding, while talking on his cellphone - and they found marijuana in the car as well. Great choices: pretty much the grand slam of idiocy right there. While I still feel sympathy for his family and Cardinals fans, I have little or no tolerance for such behavior behind the wheel of a car - may seem harsh, but it's just fortunate that the only life he took was his own.