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AZ 1, Dodgers 9 - Memorable, for all the wrong reasons.

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Record: 44-33. Change on last season: +7. Pace: 93-69

Quote of the Day: "There's a lot of year left. But with the Dodgers, they've always seemed to be our rivals in the west, them and San Diego, and we need to come out and show we can play with them so when September comes, we're comfortable in our situation...because I know we play them a bunch and we play San Diego a bunch come September, and I think that's what it's going to come down to." -- Conor Jackson

What was a really good evening fell off the rails entirely around about 8pm. Mrs. SnakePit called me through to the living-room because WWE, instead of the Vince McMahon "memorial show" [he'd been "killed" in an explosion the week before], the owner was on, in an empty arena, saying former heavyweight champion Chris Benoit, his wife and son were all dead. At first I thought this was some sick storyline angle, but no: sicker still, it currently looks like a murder-suicide. Life is more bizarre than we can imagine.

I sought to escape from that in the game, but Micah Owings hit what's becoming an apparently insurmountable wall in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, I called this one, pointing out after he posted his fifth shutout, that he'd had previous issue both in the sixth, and going round the order for the third time. Both came horribly true, as they Dodgers scored four times off him: that's now fourteen in the sixth, compared to only eighteen in all other innings combined. Opponents are also batting .447 in the sixth, compared to .234 elsewhere in the game.

This was about as bad as it possibly could have been. It started with a double to the opposing pitcher, then Furcal squibbed one that Owings fielded, but had no play - he should have left it for Tracy, who was moving towards first-base. Worse yet, he got Pierre to hit a tailor-made double-play ball to Drew, who muffed it. Game tied. Gonzo then got his only hit of the game to put the Dodgers ahead, and Martin tripled in two more runs.

Only one of those runs were earned so, even though he took the loss, Owings' ERA dropped down below four again, to 3.84. He allowed six hits and one walk in six innings. However, after Cruz pitched a scoreless seventh, the bullpen struggled: Slaten gave up a homer and Peguero three more runs, on two hits and two walks. After starting his career with three scoreless appearances, his ERA since is 11.57, with seven walks in 4.2 innings. Are you Medders in disguise?

Meanwhile, Brad Penny continued the domination of his former club, pitching eight innings of four-hit ball. In fourteen starts against us, he has a 1.81 ERA. Conor Jackson was the only man to have real success against him, going 3-for-4. He also scored our only run, coming home on a double by Young in the fourth. Yes, we actually led this game, for almost thirty pitches. That was something of a surprise, but it proved a painfully-false dawn.

Very entertaining Gameday Thread, however, even if enthusiasm was, inevitably, sapped somewhat by the apparently infinite suckiness of the fourth inning. Lt Col Patrick and leemellon traded bobble-head stories early on, with hotclaws (sorry about the "he" thing!), Muu, unnamedDBacksfan, VIII, oklahomasooners and DbacksSkins also in attendance. Fortunately, the Giants pulled out an extra-inning win - never thought I'd be so pleased to see Barroids trot across home-plate - so we remain top of the division, albeit with the margin now just half a game over LA.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Young, +9.3%
God-emperor of suck: Micah Ownings, -20.0

Looking at the matchups, that was probably the one I had least expectations of winning. Penny will likely be a Cy Young candidate at the end of the year, so it was something of a pleasant surprise to see Micah outpitch him through the first five innings. If only we'd stopped there... However, I still figure we can take two of the next three - especially if Johnson does pitch Thursday, as seems likely - and retain the divisional lead.

Two contrasting pieces in the Republic today. Paolo Boivin gets it, with a good, insightful piece, including this section on Carlos Quentin:

The frustration on his face makes him almost painful to watch. After nearly 350 major league at-bats, one would think the gifted right fielder would have found his footing. But he beats up on himself so hard for his struggles that his past is stiff-arming his future. The Diamondbacks still believe he's one solid hitting streak from turning the corner, and for the sake of the club's offensive needs, fans should hope they're right.

Conversely, a bitter Joseph Reaves complains, "Where were the rest of you people? Come on. This is a big series. Gonzo's back. The roof's open. And the hometown lads are playing well. (OK, maybe not against winning teams, but they're still entertaining). The sodas and beer are cold, and the hot dogs are hot. Let's have some fun." Emphasis added. Look, you're either on the bandwagon or you're off it: we don't need or want this snarky 'support'. Reaves should just go back to Chicago and cheer for his beloved Cubs, where their $100m team - about twice the AZ payroll - are stuck below .500.