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AZ 3, Mets 1 - Finally!

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Record: 17-16. Change on last season: -1. Pace: 83-79

Quote of the day: "Pressure? No, man, pressure was when I lived in Cuba. That was the last pressure I got in my life. I don't feel pressure." -- Livan Hernandez

After four days short of three years, we finally managed to beat the Mets at Chase Field. Probably inevitably, it wasn't the offense who carried us, but a sterling pitching performance from Livan Hernandez. Seven innings, one earned run - and, in a major improvement, only three walks to go alongside the six hits. That's his sixth quality start in seven games: a number surpassed only by Tim Hudson (7), while Brad Penny and Jamie Moyer are the only pitchers to be 6-for-6. He still leads the league with 28 walks, but he has consistently kept us in games, and that's what he was hired to do. He did flirt somewhat with danger, but only two runners got past second - which counts as a relaxed Sunday stroll by Livan's standards.

Meanwhile, the hitters scratched out only seven hits: Byrnes and Callaspo had two each, and two of the three runs came home on sacrifice flies, by Montero and Drew. The latter had a good day: as well as the SF, he grounded out to the right side in both the fourth and sixth, advancing a runner from second to third, who later scored. A very productive 0-for-3 overall. Bob Melvin spoke to the team before the game, but despite the win, most of the hitters apparently remained stuck in low gear. Once again, he re-iterated that he'll be sticking with them:

A lot of these guys haven't had a ton of success here so they're going to be doubting themselves. But what they need to realize is for the most part, (they aren't) going anywhere. This is our team. I'm sure sometimes a lot of them are pressing because they feel like they're fighting for their jobs. But really this is what we're bringing to the table. These are the guys we're going to run out there and we're doing it for a reason - because they have the talent.

It's good to have such loyalty publicly expressed, but I am somewhat concerned. There are obvious issues that need to be addressed, with so many regular players struggling to hit their weight. I hope the comment above is not a complacent, "Things will work themselves out" kind of statement, because it's only with hard work from players, coaches and managers that the necessary improvements will occur. I trust this is going on, regardless of what pronouncements are being made to the media.

Anyway, nice to silence the Mets fans, and despite the Suns' playoff game next door, there was a crowd of over 35,000 in attendance. That's the biggest of the season since the home opener, no doubt encouraged in part by the rather cool camouflage D-backs hats being given away at the game. We got an early jump, taking the lead in the first on Drew's sac-fly; the Mets tied it up in the fourth, but an RBI double from Quentin gave us the lead once again.

A Montero sac.fly added an insurance run in the sixth, and after Hernandez left, we turned to Lyon and Valverde to close it out. As on Thursday, Brandon retired the heart of the Mets order in order, and we all said a little prayer as Papa Grande took the mound for his first save situation since that infamous meltdown. He got Castro swinging, after falling behind 3-0, but then walked Newhan on the eighth pitch to bring the tying run to the plate.

Gotay lined-out straight to Hudson, bringing Carlos Beltran - 6th in the NL for OPS - up as a pinch-hitter. I think everyone in Arizona was holding their breath, but after dropping a splitter in there for a strike, Valverde doubled-up and Beltran popped the ball, almost straight up into foul territory. Montero called off Callaspo, made the catch, and the streaks, both Mets winning and Diamondbacks losing, were over. Nice to see one professional sports team in Arizona won yesterday. :-)

Thanks to those who opted for the D-backs over the Suns yesterday afternoon: flyingdutchman, Muu, Wimb, singaporedbacksfan, suitsmetoATnT and johngordonma. Now, we have to see if we can build another winning streak: the Phillies come to town tonight, but not sure who the starting pitcher will be. Expected starter Freddy Garcia hurt his leg crashing into an equipment cart in San Francisco. Hey, after that losing streak, we'll take all the advantages we can get!

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Livan Hernandez, +32.6%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Young, -10.1%

Fantasy baseball review to go up later today, unless npineda gets to it first...