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AZ 6, Baltimore 4 - A Farewell to Yards

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Record: 40-30. Change on last season: +4. Pace: 93-69.

Quote of the day: "I had to battle, especially the first three innings. I had no clue where the fastball was going. After the third inning I was able to find my breaking ball and changeup." -- Brandon Webb

If the baseball gods had asked me before this trip if I'd be happy with a 3-3 split, I'd probably have taken that. Might have tried to negotiate for 4-2, but if they'd looked ominous and started tossing lightning-bolts around, I'd have signed on the dotted-line, in a heartbeat. So, here we are, with that split, and heading home to Chase Field to face the Devil Rays and those Orioles again. Could have been much worse, really: and it certainly looked like it after the Yankees smacked us around like red-headed step-children. That seems like a bad dream now.

Speaking of which, I fell asleep watching the game this morning and had a weird, Gameday Thread-related dream. In it, Chad Tracy hit a single and as the camera panned down the line to follow him, the entire section behind him was wearing Sedona Red shirts, even though we were still in Baltimore. I posted a comment here about how it must be a school on tour, but then noticed another post here from Ken Kendrick who was complimenting some woman on her Diamondbacks website and offering to set up one for her as part of the official site. I found this very annoying for some reason. Okay, didn't say it actually made any sense. But I want you folks to know, even when I'm unconscious, my brain is still here. Anyone else ever have any D-backs related dreams?

Back in the real world. Arizona finished off the Orioles, once again getting to the Baltimore bullpen - we scored eleven runs during the eighth and ninth innings this series. [How bad is their relief corps? In this nine-game homestand, they were 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA] At first, it looked this wouldn't be necessary: Eric Byrnes led off the game with a home-run, becoming the first Diamondback to reach double-figures this year, and Chris Snyder matches his career high with his sixth in the second. An RBI by Jackson made it 3-0, and we looked set fair for an untroubled victory.

However, Baltimore tied it up by the bottom of the third, and our offense went AWOL, as Burres retired fifteen straight Arizona hitters. Fortunately, the Orioles helped us out in the eighth, where we scored three runs, despite only getting two singles: a walk, wild-pitch, error and sacrifice fly all helped do the damage. Lyon allowed a run in the eighth, and an error by Tracy, playing first, made things interesting, as Baltimore got the tying run to second with only one out. But Castillo and Roberts both struck-out, giving Valverde his 22nd save of the season. It's the 73rd in his career, one behind franchise leader Matt Mantei.

Brandon Webb got the win for seven innings of work, giving the bullpen a much-needed rest. One of the three runs was unearned, thanks to Reynolds air-mailing a throw, so, his ERA dropped a couple of points, to 3.14. He gave up seven hits, and fanned four while striking out none. Baltimore outhit us 9-7, and no Diamondback had more than one hit - Hudson, Hairston and Ojeda all reached twice, with a hit and a walk. Reynolds and Quentin went 0-for-4.

Speaking of Q, there is a growing feeling that we can't wait for DaVanon to come back, and that Quentin needs to work out his issues down in Tucson. Quentin has been struggling, hitting .149 (7-for-47) since the start of the Phillies/Mets road-trip on May 28, with no walks and 15 K's. Since the start of May, Quentin has as many HBPs as he does bases on balls (six). Jeff Salazar and Alex Romero are the two most likely replacements at the moment: Romero has the higher average (.338/.310), but Salazar has the edge in OPS (.892/.852). Both are almost exactly at 1:1 for K:BB ratio, and they're both left-handers, so no edge there.

On the other hand, perhaps we just need to be more patient. Hardball Times has an interesting stat, of PrOPS, which gives a predicted figure for OPS based on the batted-ball types he has actually produced so far. The figures for Arizona show Quentin's OPS should be 76 points higher, so maybe he's been unlucky - though even the adjusted figure would be only .732. Snyder and Montero also deserve better, while Tracy and Reynolds are the players who have been most overperforming.

Wasn't around in the Gameday Thread myself while it was on, so thanks to AZDarkKnight (a sterling long-relief outing), soco, hotclaws, seton hall snake pit, Wimb, MFAN, dahlian, DbacksSkins, and oklahomasooners, who were here in my absence. Dodgers lost, but the Padres won, so we move up to second, still a game behind San Diego. Giants now ten games back: did I mention there's only one team in the National League with fewer wins this season? And if the playoffs started today, we'd still be facing the Mets, even though they've no longer got the best-record. The three best records in the NL are now in the NL West...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Brandon Webb, +15.4%
God-emperor of suck: Carlos Quentin, -8.1%

Good interview over at Baseball Prospectus with Diamondbacks' scouting director, Tom Allison. Interesting comment on how Boras clients affect things - not very much, according to Allison, who says: "When you go into the draft, the one thing that's most important is that you maintain your focus on the players and line them up correctly. If there are obstacles, like health questions or signability, you need to be aware of them, but skill and talent level are more important. That's how we line up our board--we do our homework, and will always take the best player for the Diamondbacks organization." He also discusses global scouting, projecting pitchers, and draft philosophy.