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AZ 7, Baltimore 3 - You're the Man Now, (O-)Dawg

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Record: 38-30. Change on last season: +3. Pace: 91-71.

Quote of the day: "Talking about the AL East. The guys didn't want to hear it, so they went to the other end of the dugout and I was sitting there by myself. So I was talking about the AL East to myself." -- Orlando Hudson, on how he occupied himself before his pinch-hitting heroics.

Having ruthlessly criticized Bob Melvin for managerial incompetence which has cost us numerous games already, fairness compels me to admit that he probably did win us this one. True, the tying run was in scoring position, but with two outs, would Scott Hairston have been able to drive it in? The Magic 8-Ball is doubtful on this issue, with Hairston batting .230 on the season. No doubt Hudson was the best option on the bench, and had been hitting .347 since May 29. But I think it's safe to say that this surpassed all expectations, especially since prior to this, he had exactly zero homers over 114 at-bats in Camden Yards. Guess the Melvin line-up dice finally got a double-six.

Seeing Orlando Hudson hobble off the bench as a pinch-hitter, with his team down by one run, to smack a go-ahead homer - well, Kirk Gibson can be forgiven for having flashbacks. I don't think O-Dawg has had a more dramatic homer in his career: four have caused his team to go from behind to ahead, but only one was as late as the eighth inning, and his team still eventually lost that game. TOR vs TB, August 8 2005, should you be interested. I'm glad we got to see it: truth be told, I had given up hope and was just casually checking the score before we watched United 93 (much better than expected, I have to say). We only kept it on because I was entranced by the uber-submariner delivery of Orioles' reliever Bradford. Happy we did...

Certainly, until that eighth inning, there was nothing to suggest Arizona was about to end its losing streak. Sure, Micah Owings had been great, matching Eric Bedard zero for zero into the bottom of the sixth inning - indeed, the two were seven outs away from a combined perfect game, retiring the first twenty hitters in the game before Jackson doubled with two outs in the fourth. Reynolds then singled - our first hit with a runner in scoring position for what seemed like an eternity - but Jackson couldn't get past third. The Orioles then scored three runs off Owings in the bottom of the sixth, and the score stayed 3-0 until the eighth.

Just as defeat loomed, Snyder homered - his fifth of the year, one short of his 2006 total - to lead off, and then Augie Ojeda singled, his first major-league hit since September 2004. That was the end of Bedard, but the Baltimore bullpen, which has been problematic all year then coughed the game up in spectacular fashion. Hey, we may complain about our relievers, but to put it into context, they have a 3.82 ERA - Baltimore's are at 5.11. And so, Byrnes singled too, after battling hard in an at-bat against Bradford, before a pair of groundouts and a walk to Reynolds set up Hudson's glory. Ojeda then added padding in the ninth, smacking only the sixth homer of a career that began more than seven years ago. When defeat looked all but inevitable, somehow, victory had risen from the dead.

Slaten took the win for his scoreless seventh inning, running his record to 3-0. Peña posted a zero too, but the tying run was on second-base before he was done. And though it wasn't a save situation, after Ojeda's two-run shot, Valverde still pitched the ninth, retiring the Orioles in order, albeit getting some help from the leadoff hitter, who chased an obvious ball four. Ojeda was the only man to get more than one hit, and also played solid defense: based on that performance, it doesn't seem as if we'll miss Callaspo much at all.

Thanks to everyone from the Gameday Thread, though it was kinda weird, in that it seemed there was never more than two people in there at an one time! After a spell where I flew solo, seton hall snake pit joined for a bit, then Muu and AZDarkKnight covered while I made my way home. Soco helped take us the rest of the way, with npineda, Goose and DbacksSkins (welcome!) chipping in post-game. This was definitely, a much-needed victory, and the Padres losing helped too. Hopefully, we can take today's game - though I'm doubtful about that, for reasons we'll discuss below - and then turn the ball over to Webb for the sweep on Sunday.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Could it be...Hudson? +58.3%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -8.9%

There was bad news for the rotation, however, as Randy Johnson has been placed on the disabled list with...er, a sore ass. Er, I mean "glute tightness". Said Melvin, "We are going to err on the side of caution. I said that from Day 1. That's how we're going to handle it. We're not going to run him out there in a situation where it could get worse." Replacing Johnson on the roster is Enrique Gonzalez, though oddly, it seems that it won't be him who starts today. They're apparently going with Edgar, even though he had a lengthy relief during the New York series. Don't be surprised if EnGon is in there very early on.

Time for a new poll, since Brandon Webb has a comfortable lead as our choice for the AZ All-Star game, leading Eric Byrnes by a healthy 46-28% margin. Time for some grudge tallying, I think: who do you hate most? I've picked a few of the teams against whom we've seen people venting their spleens here, and am interested to see what the overall result is. Note the wording, "Who do you hate losing most to?" rather than "Who do you hate most?", because we all know the answer to the latter is the mother-freaking Yankees. :-) But as they're not in our league, or even our division, and we only play them a few times a decade, that negates a great deal of the significance in these games.