Record: 16-16. Change on last season: -2. Pace: 81-81.
Quote of the day: "The walks were definitely a huge factor. I was out of sync with my mechanics. I was trying to throw the ball to the middle and work it away, but it didn't happen." -- Brandon Webb
Who better to pitch us to a win on Saturday than Brandon Webb? After all, it was Sinker de Mayo... However, the Mets didn't read the script and - helped by a monumental gaffe in left-field by Scott Hairston, the Mets rolled to their eight-millionth straight victory over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Okay, it's just their thirteenth. It only seems like eight million. :-(
It was another former D-back who burned us this time: Shawn Green had three RBI including a two-run homer in the second, which put the Mets ahead of us for good. While I do concur our philosophy should involve going with youth, the growing pains this year have been - and will continue to be - significant. I'm already documenting the Gonzo vs. our LF in the sidebar, but we should certainly also note Green vs. Quentin (OPS+ 154 vs. 62), and perhaps Estrada vs. Snyder (OPS+ 104 vs. 88) too. At least Craig Counsell isn't quite out-hitting Stephen Drew. At the moment.
It's an issue addressed in the Republic today, and the timing is appropriate, since our batting average overall has now fallen to just .242, 13th in the National League. Most people - myself included - expected the offense to be a powerhouse and carry us through the rough patches. That simply hasn't happened: what's kept us at at a .500 record has been the (generally) sterling work of our pitching staff, and they can't do much when the hitters are, basically, giving them nothing to play with. In the five-game losing streak, we've scored just eleven runs in total. Manager Bob Melvin is staying calm:
You can't blame us fans for feeling a little nervous about this. However, the article also says that we don't have that many options, such as promoting players from Triple-A. Says Nick Piecoro, "The Diamondbacks are committed to the players they have here now, and that probably is not going to change, no matter how the numbers shake out." I'm not so sure: taking a look at the stats for the Sidewinders, there do seem to be a couple of players forcing their way into the picture at the moment. First-baseman (I use the term loosely) Chris Carter is batting .382, and 3B Jamie D'Antona is at .363. As we've seen though, Tucson success does not necessarily translate into hitting at the major-league level, but Callaspo should pay attention.
Webb was definitely not at his best, particularly in his control, giving up four walks in his six innings, while striking out only three. Six hits and six runs, though one of those was unearned, after Hairston allowed a single from Lo Duca to get clean past him in LF. Ouch. Not the impression you want to make when your manager gives you a rare start: Hairston should be checking out the apartment situation in Tucson, since Jeff DaVanon could be starting a rehab assignment next week.
Though Arizona did plug two back in the seventh, on a pinch-hit double by Miguel Montero that led to the departure of Sosa, once again we were limited to five hits. Chris Young was the only player to reach twice, on a hit and a walk, and once again, K's outnumbered walks, this time by a 6-2 margin. Tony Clark was unable to continue his mastery of Sosa, and went 0-for-4, though did see more pitches (21) than anyone else in the lineup. Nippert and Medders mopped up after Webb left - and Valverde then got some work in during the ninth. Probably wise to bring him in during a low-pressure situation: he hit the first batter he saw, but the next three flew out on a total of six pitches.
The loss gave Arizona its fourth streak of five or more games already this season - two winning runs, two losing ones - as we reach the 20% mark. We only had seven such streaks all of last season (three wins, four losses). johngordonma, flyingdutchman, singaporedbacksfan, unnamedDBacksfan, azdb7 and IndyDBack were present in the GameDay thread, and their perseverance is appreciated - it's probably more than this performance deserved. We say "Hello!" to .500 once again; we did dip one game below that after the opening series in Colorado and following the final loss in the last streak. I'm thinking we need something heroic, like the Drew walk-off homer, to get us rolling in the right direction.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Young, +7.2%
God-emperor of suck: Brandon Webb, -17.4%