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AZ 10, Devil Rays 8 - (No) Sympathy for the Devil (Rays)

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Record: 41-31. Change on last season: +5. Pace: 92-70

Quote of the Day: "I guess now we know why I didn't take the two-hour bus ride to New York." -- Randy Johnson

I give up. I don't think I will ever be able to understand, explain or predict this team. About all we can do is hold on and "enjoy" the ride - quotes used advisedly - whereever it may take us. Because when I said in yesterday's preview, "This team has shown that when it's hot, we can beat almost anyone...but we're equally capable of losing miserably to almost anyone," I didn't mean in the same game.

Think it's safe to say that we saw the worst of the Diamondbacks and the best of the Diamondbacks last night. The former, in another woeful start by Doug Davis: he only walked one hitter, but allowed nine hits and seven earned runs in four innings. And the offense fared hardly any better, leading to the Rays rolling to a six-run lead as late as the bottom of the sixth inning. It certainly looked like they were going to roll to their eighth straight victory over the D-backs, and maintain their franchise history perfect record.

But then... Two runs in the sixth, with Quentin homering and Hudson driving in Byrnes. Two more in the seventh, on RBI singles by Quentin and Byrnes. And then, in the bottom of the ninth, there was one out and on one, with the Rays closer on the mound - the appropriately-named Reyes, and he'd been very good, with an ERA of 2.17 entering the game. But enter Tony Clark to swat a pinch-hit homer, tying the game. And Chris Young got another walk-off homer in the tenth to complete a most improbable victory.

Much credit, however, is due to the bullpen. Peguero, Cruz, Peña and Lyon combined to pitch six innings of one-hit ball, with only blemish a sacrifice fly given up by Peguero, a result in part of the two walks he allowed. But after that, they shut the Rays down, including retiring the last ten in a row. That's especially admirable, since they could have been forgiven for phoning it in and leaving Doug Davis to hang in the wind with a 4-9 record.

The 16 hits and ten runs were both easily June highs - the previous bests were only ten and eight respectively. Byrnes, Drew, Hudson, Young and Quentin all reached safely three times, with Byrnes and Young having three hit nights. I was also impressed by the team showing patience in their at-bats: they drew a season-high eight walks, and the Rays pitchers threw 210 pitches in 9.1 innings of work. Drew led the way, seeing 29 in six plate appearances. On the other hand, we left thirteen men on base, including a bases-loaded, one out chance in the first, where Young and Snyder both K'd.

The tone of the night was reflected in the Gameday Thread. Firstly, thanks for all the kind wishes: it was somewhat creepy to drive down the 51 again today [in our daughter's car!], looking to see if we could spot any blue paint streaks on the median... But if that's what it takes to get the D-backs a win against Tampa! :-) oklahomasooners, unnamedDBacksfan, Wimb, AZDarkKnight, DbacksSkins, TheMainMan, MFAN, Goose and qudjy1 were there: I was there in spirit, but we had to leave The Sets just before Clark's heroics. Such are the perils of having to rely on other people for transport.

Quick sidenote: as DbacksSkins subsequently discovered, yes, we actually do have a grand-slam this year. Tony Clark hit it on May 19th vs. Pittsburgh off Marty McLeary, tying the game at seven. Funnily enough, that game we also came down from a six-run deficit to win, having been behind 7-1. Looks like that's just where we want the opposition. :-) One other stat of note: we've hit 69 homers this year. Only 13 have come with runners in scoring position.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Tony Clark, +47.2%
God-emperor of suck: Doug Davis, -39.1%

Our chances of victory reached a low of 2.8%, at the top of the sixth inning, and were still as trivial as 4.8% before Quentin's one-out walk in the ninth. I think I should offer large-scale versions of the above graph, suitable for framing.

Bad news for starting pitchers all over the division. For the Dodgers, Jason Schmidt is having exploratory surgery, but what we care about is the news that Randy Johnson has suffered a re-occurrence of the herniated disk in his back. It's thought likely he'll be able to play in due course, with Johnson saying "You're at the mercy, going out there, of your nerve. You can go out and pitch and your body's going to tell you how much and when you can." We'll need to see how this pans out, but with Hernandez and Davis both struggling recently, it's not good news for the Diamondbacks.

Note that it's an afternoon game today - the D'backs playing hooky. We had tickets, but aren't able to make it, so gave them to workmates of Mrs. SnakePit. Will be back at lunchtime with the GameDay thread, to see how many of you will slipping away too!