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Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 9 - He's back! But is his back?

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Record: 45-35. Change on last season: +7. Pace: 91-71

Quote of the Day: "I'm not going to get all worked up about it. I pitched poorly, and I'll get my work in between now and my next start. I haven't pitched in a while, and I'm reaching for something, so there you go." -- Randy Johnson

Well, at least Randy won yesterday. The bad news is, it wasn't our Randy. Indeed, as our one limped off the mound after a highly-ineffective outing, you might have been forgiven for wondering if we'd have been better off sticking to the original plan and going with Livan today. Four runs on six hits and two walks, in only three innings is not the grand return of our other Cy Young winning pitcher.

The good news is, Randy refused to blame his back for the poor results, saying he simply failed to execute. I'm not convinced, given his stoic silence on the matter when he was in New York - he refused to blame his back for his struggles there either. It's definitely a warning sign: though I take comfort from the fact that, by this point last season, Johnson already had six games with a lower Game Score than the 33 he posted last night, his worst of the season for Arizona.

He was not helped by a woeful performance in the field, with four errors committed, leading to four unearned runs - which just happens to be the margin of victory for the Dodgers. Young was responsible for two, giving him five for the year in total - that's trailing only Bill Hall of Milwaukee among all major-league center-fielders. Now, that's not the most reliable of measures, but these weren't hard plays. Things are little better in other fielding metrics either: Young is second-last in Range Factor and sixth from bottom in Zone Rating.

The bullpen were particularly hurt, with the majority of the five runs they allowed being unearned. But Nippert gave up three hits and a walk in one inning, and Slaten struggled again, retiring only four of the nine hitters he faced. There was some good news, however: I just saved some money on my car insu... I'm sorry: I mean, Randy Choate was designated for assignment. His stellar performances here (three hitters faced, three hits) mean, even in a market always happy to throw money at any left-handed pitcher, Choate will likely make it through unscathed and end up back in Tucson.

We were forced into emergency measures thanks to Johnson's early departure. Tony Peña, fresh from thigh surgery, was pressed into action for 1.2 innings, and we even ended up having to use starter Micah Owings for an inning. He should still be okay for his scheduled Sunday start, however, since it was his day to throw in the bullpen anyway. Brandon Lyon mopped up in a 9-3 blowout. With no rest to the All-Star break, don't be surprised to see some fresh arms being rotated in from Tucson between now and then.

Plenty of patience at the plate, with walks only just out-numbered by hits, 9-7. Byrnes, batting leadoff, reached safely four times, with two hits and two walks, while Hudson and Snyder each had a hit and a walk. Byrnes and Hudson drove in two runs apiece, meaning Eric just keep his lead over Orlando at the top of the AZ RBI chart, 46-45.

Just time to touch on the GameDay Thread, and thank oklahomasooners, tabe1978, hotclaws, Wimb, drodd1039, Diamondhacks, singaporedbacksfan and Ben for their contributions. It was a disappointing day for AZ, dropping us back to third in the division - albeit only half-a-game back.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes, +8.7%
God-emperor of suck: Randy Johnson, -22.8%

And finally, here's a challenge for Joseph Reaves. Try and write an entire article on the Diamondbacks without mentioning their record against winning teams. He seems entirely incapable of doing so, going by the reports in this series:

  • "The truth is the Diamondbacks are 9-18 when the team they are facing has a winning record." -- June 28th
  • "At least the Diamondbacks know now they occasionally can beat a winning team when their backs are against the wall." -- June 27th
  • "The hometown lads are playing well. (OK, maybe not against winning teams...)" -- June 25th

Ok, Joe, we get it. But here's a memo: you don't get double points for beating a team with a winning record. Defeating the Mets is worth exactly the same as beating losers such as your beloved Cubbies. It. Doesn't. Matter. Now, move on. Thank you for your attention in this matter. At least it might be a while before he gets to trot it out again, as our next three series are against teams who're eleven, seven and nineteen games below .500.