Record: 42-31. Change on last season: +6. Pace: 93-69
Quote of the Day: "I'd much rather be here helping the team than sitting at home with ice packs on my back." -- Randy Johnson
Whatever curse the Devil Rays had over us, seems to have been lifted. After waiting almost a decade for the Diamondbacks to get their first win over their expansion brothers, the second one took slightly less than 24 hours. A solid performance from the offense, with 15 hits, albeit with no walks - that means the team is batting .378 (31-for-82) over the past two games - helped Micah Owings get his fifth win of the season.
That was despite his now-traditional sixth inning meltdown. In that frame, opposing hitters are batting .436 off Owings, compared to a high of only .265 through the first five. It could be stamina, or it could just be familiarity: first time through the order, they bat .219 vs. Owings, but the second time that increases to .282, and by the third go around or later, they're up to .338, with an OPS over 1.000. Yesterday, he came in with a 6-1 lead, but allowed a homer, two triples and a single to bring the tying run the the plate. Peña came in to save the day, get the third out with a K.
He also pitched a perfect seventh, with two more K's, while Lyon and Valverde added scoreless innings. That's his 74th career save, tying Matt Mantei for the franchise record. We got to see ex-D'back Casey Fossum pitch 2.2 scoreless innings for the Rays: he arrived from Boston in the Schilling trade, but went 4-15 in the nightmare which was 2004, and was shipped off to Tampa for Jose Cruz Jr. (which must be embarrassing) and cash after that season. Though he's hardly been missed, with a record since of 18-24 and an ERA north of five.
Meanwhile, Eric Byrnes continued his volcanic pace, with four hits and a three-run homer. He's batting .355 in June, which is the fifth-best in the NL (min. 75 PAs). Miguel Montero had his first three-hit game of the year, good enough to raise his batting average more than twenty points. Tony Clark had two hits, and Chad Tracy started things off with another three-run homer in the third. That was especially commendable coming against the man generally regard as the Devil Rays' ace. Though given the franchise has only ever had two qualifying pitchers post sub-4.00 ERA's, that's perhaps not saying much.
Attendance of 31,805, which is remarkable for a weekday afternoon game, and more than twelve thousand up on the other two games this series. A lot of people must have taken heed of the team's advice to slide off from work. Or, probably more likely from what I heard, there were a lot of kids at the game. This is certainly something the team should look to build on and encourage: their enthusiasm is infection - and it seems to me, this would do much more to "build atmosphere" at Chase than closing off sections. This year, the average crowd is 26,219, about 2% up on last season.
Many thanks to AZDarkKnight for starting the GameDay thread, because I thought it was a 1:40 start, when it was actualy 1:05. My bad! Wimb, DbacksSkins, hotclaws, npineda, DiamondbacksWIn and Just Me also skipped work, benefited from the time difference or otherwise made it in for a spot of post-lunch fun. With the Dodgers and Padres both losing, we stand one-half game back of San Diego, and can tie them if the Padres lose today. We're up to #6 in the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes: +28.0%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew: -11.6%
Off-day today, before we take on Baltimore again over the weekend. Not sure what my plans are: might try and take in a movie (Day Watch and Dead or Alive are likely the top possibilities), or might just stay home and slump. Enjoy the break, whatever you decide to do: it'll be the last one we get until the All-Star game, as we've got 17 games in 17 days beginning tomorrow...