Record: 44-32. Change on last season: +7. Pace: 94-68
Quote of the Day: "It's great to get that win and get out on top a little bit before LA comes to town, but, you know, it's still a long season. We're still not even halfway through. We're not really thinking about it too much." -- Chris Young
I'm not quite sure how this happened. We have half our starting line-up batting less than .210 in June [Drew, Quentin, Snyder and Young]. Two starting pitchers have ERAs for the month above 6.30 [Davis and Hernandez], and a third is on the DL. Yet, somehow, we still wake up this morning not just on top of the NL West, but with the best record in the entire senior circuit. Does anyone honestly feel like this is the best team in the National League? Thought not. If we were any good, we'd be dangerous. :-)
Yesterday was nice, though. Our pitching staff, in the shape of Doug Davis, delivered our first quality start since the previous Sunday. And even though the Orioles once again out-hit us (14-13), we cruised to a fairly easy victory. Stephen Drew gave us the lead with a first-inning homer, and we never trailed from there. Arizona was helped by three sacrifice flies, the most by the team since a franchise-record four on May 18, 2003 against Pittsburgh.
Doug Davis pitched fairly well, a relief after a couple of wobbly starts. He didn't have any 1-2-3 innings, but still took a shutout until an RBI single with two outs in the sixth. He had to be relieved in the seventh, though Doug Slaten had another ineffective and outless appearance. Peña tidied up the seventh: Peguero pitched the eighth, but retired only one of three hitters too, forcing Melvin to turn to Lyon. He loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but got Mora and Payton. Not a great day for the bullpen: four hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of work.
Still, it proved enough, as we scored eight runs, a figure only surpassed once this month. Tracy also homered, and Byrnes, Drew, Tracy and Young all had two-hit games, with Tracy reaching safely four times, thanks to two walks. The fourth proved the big breakthrough inning. First, Doug "Hitting Machine" Davis helped his own cause with an RBI single; Byrnes followed with the same, and Hudson added a sacrifice fly.
A solid victory, which made for a nice, relaxed Gameday Thread. Wimb, DbacksSkins, Ridster, ASUJon, hotclaws, seton hall snake pit, MFAN and Goose were to be found in it. Dodgers, Padres and Rockies all lost [looks like a false dawn for Colorado, as they got swept by Toronto], which left us - somewhat to our surprise, I suspect - leading the division by a game.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Doug Davis, +22.3%
God-emperor of suck: Mark Reynolds, -6.6%
Nice to have a bit of room (even a single game) ahead of what promises to be a crucial and tough series against the Dodgers. They may have arranged their rotation so we have to face Penny - but we may be arranging ours so they get to face the Big Unit. Johnson says he feels fine, but Melvin is waiting until he sees Randy pitch before making a final decision. That would push Hernandez 2.0 back, out of the series entirely: the way he's been pitching recently, that's probably no bad thing.
It's the first time we've been ahead by more than half a game since April 10, when we briefly enjoyed a 1.5 game lead. Before, that, June 4-5 last year, we had a 2.5 game advantage: the first of those days, we were also 12 games above .500, matching our current total. If we win tonight, that'll be the furthest Arizona has been up since the end of the 2002 season...