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AZ 1, Yankees 7 - The Big Cr-Apple

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Record: 37-30. Change on last season: +2. Pace: 89-73.

Quote of the day: "We didn't play well enough to win today. We didn't pitch well enough, we didn't swing the bats well enough. It ended up being a bad game for us." -- Bob Melvin

Well, that sucked. Indeed, the entire series did. Few things are as bad as getting swept by the Yankees: I think if we were swept by the Giants, that would perhaps be even worse, since they're our divisional rivals. Otherwise, this is likely the low point of the season and, after a brisk start, we've lost six of seven games - if we don't turn things around quickly, June is looking likely to be our Waterloo once again. And not in a glorious, Eurovision, Swedish pop sensation, kinda way. [Readers under 35 will need to ask their parents to explain that one.]

I'm tempted to just re-run yesterday's report, changing a couple of the names, and seeing if anyone notices. Blah, blah, sucky starting pitching, blah, limp and unproductive offense, blah, RISP, blah, blah, woeful. Distill down to five hits and one walk, with Hudson the only player to reach base twice. Toss in some particularly obnoxious plays, with errors by Hairston, Drew and Young. Sprinkle with a garnish of wasted bullpen members - can anyone tell me why Melvin decided to yank Slaten after getting one out, in the seventh inning of a 6-1 game? Then toss the whole lot into the East river, because it's clearly no use to anyone.

Remember when we kicked Pettitte's butt in Game Six of the 2001 World Series? Six earned runs in two innings, before Torre was forced to come out and pull his starter? Whatever pitch-tipping was allegedly going on then is clearly now a thing of the past, as much as that World Series. Pettitte is now almost six years older, but today he cruised through eight innings, hardly bothering to break sweat against a Diamondbacks lineup apparently intent on delivering nothing more harmful than soft groundouts and weak pop-flies.

Amused to read that a discarded D-backs scouting report was found on the dugout in Yankee Stadium after Thursday's game. It contains such gems as "Bobby Abreu: HOT right now." Really? Well, that's worth bringing to our pitchers' attention, in case his three-run homer in the top of the first inning of the opening game didn't get their attention. ;-) It clearly didn't help Doug Davis, who suffered his second straight crap start, walking five and allowing six hits and four runs in only five innings. Not that the bullpen helped: Cruz was fine in the sixth, but got touched for two in the seventh, while Slaten, Peña and Lyon were all used too.

Wimb, unnamedDBacksfan, seton hall snake pit, Ridster, DiamondbacksWIn, Just Me, AZDarkKnight, Ben, Goose, and kylerkenney were present. Look on the bright side folks: at least we're not the Devil Rays - both because... well, they're the Devil Rays, and also because they have to face the Bronx Bastards nineteen times a year. And so we leave New York, licking a set of deep laceration, hoping for better things to come in Baltimore.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Mark Reynolds, +1.9%
God-emperor of suck: Doug Davis, -19.6%

Nick Piecoro looks at our rotation. The prognosis is good for Webb and Johnson, but bad for Hernandez v2.0 ("If he continues to put so many runners on, his ERA will likely will wind up closer to the 4.50-5.00 range than the 3.50 it has been close to most of the season") and Davis ("His walk rate has risen for the third straight season, and his strikeout rate is down and opponents' batting averages are up for the second straight season"). As for Owings, it's somewhat murky, as you'd expect for someone with less then ten starts: "Once he goes around the division and league a couple of times, we'll get a better idea what to expect from him long term."

Certainly, looking at the peripherals does seem to indicate a backslide is overdue for Hernandez and Davis. If or when that happens (and the past week seems to indicate it could have already started), our offense picking up the slack will become ever more crucial. We are getting awful (sub-70 OPS+) production from three spots: catcher, shortstop and right-field, and time is ticking. How long do we give the residents there before deciding that they are just not, at the moment, the answer? Would someone like Quentin be better off back in Tucson?

For how bad a year is Carlos having? Historically bad. His current OPS+ is 69, and he's on pace for 121 games. As the link above shows, since 1887, there have been 267 cases where right-fielders under 25 played 120+ games. Only one had a lower OPS+ figure: Paul Householder, who hit .211/.265/.326, for an OPS+ of 64 with the 1982 Reds. Even if we broaden it to all young outfielders, only two have had worse seasons in the past twenty years - both playing center where production is generally lower. Brian Anderson for the White Sox last season, and Juan Pierre for the 2002 Rockies, both posted OPS+ of 65 - of course, Pierre stole 47 bases, mitigating his offensive futility.

There was some movement on the roster, with Callaspo being sent down. He's basically been useless since his arrest, so this move is long overdue. Coming up instead is veteran Augie Ojeda, who was batting .323 in 32 games for Tucson (albeit with no homers and a slugging percentage a whole nine points above his OBP). Not sure how much playing time he'll get: Orlando Hudson tweaked his ankle during yesterday's game, so might need time off. Ojeda may get to start if Mark Reynolds is used to DH during the Baltimore series. The sooner that set of games starts, the sooner we can wash the grimy taste of New York from our mouth...