Record: 36-24. Change on last season: +2. Pace: 97-65
Quote of the day: will follow shortly. :-)
- Beating the Giants = good
- Beating the Giants for the fifth consecutive time = better
- Beating the Giants for the fifth consecutive time, all of them by one run, and sending them to the cellar of the NL West as a result = priceless
Another day, another sterling performance from our starting pitchers. This time, Brandon Webb combined with Brandon Lyon and Jose Valverde on our second shutout of the season, and Chris Young supplied all the offense we'd need - or, frankly, get - with his second go-ahead homer in consecutive games. Hark, what's that I hear? It's the sound of a season gurgling down the plughole into McCovey Cove.
Again, this is perhaps a game we didn't really deserve to win. The offense mustered only seven hits, with Mark Reynolds the only player to reach more than once, on a hit and a walk. We were 0-for-9 in scoring position: in the past six games, we are hitting a pathetic .118 (6-for-51) in that category - yet somehow, have managed to win five of those contests. That'll be because a) thirteen of the nineteen runs we've scored have come on homers, and b) we've conceded only fifteen runs, and seven of those came in the loss.
Brandon Webb was dominating early on, but needed to get out of a huge sixth inning jam, after the first two Giants hitters reached. The next one tried to bunt, but Webb pounced on the ball and threw out the lead-runner at third. That was huge, and magnified when the following batter singled to Byrnes in left. That would have scored at least one, possibly two runs, if the bunt had worked, but instead, Byrnes uncorked one of his patented flip-throws - and for once, it worked. Durham was tagged out at home, his leg hovering over home-plate rather than touching it.
The seventh proved equally vital. A leadoff double was followed by a successful bunt this time, to put the go-ahead run on third with one out. The infield came in, and fortunately, Winn grounded straight to Hudson, who froze the runner, then made the out. Lewis repeated the performance four pitches later, and Webb was done, having pitched seven heroic innings: six hits, and four walks, but it's the "zero" under runs that mattered. Chris Young then homered just over the line in right-center, leading off the seventh, to give Arizona a tiny, weak, mewling 1-0 lead.
It was the bullpen's turn, and inevitably, the drama followed. Both Lyon and Valverde put the leadoff man on, but bounced back with a pair of strikeouts to ensure the win. Lyon threw in a wild-pitch for good measure, to get the tying run into scoring position, but Feliz then hit a liner to Byrnes. Valverde's first hitter was Bonds, who was pitched carefully, but without fear, and eventually walked on a full count. Fortunately, the Giants' have only 22 stolen bases all year, so even though they put in a pinch-runner, first was where he stayed until Valverde picked up his 21st save of the year.
[Quick aside on this. The broadcast last night had a graphic last night which showed Valverde as tied, before this one, with Kim for second on the franchise list at 71. That isn't right: ESPN, mlb.com and and Baseball-Reference.com all have Kim at 70 saves, so Valverde had already passed him.]
Is this the best-played streak in Diamondbacks' history? We've won 11 of 12, which is pretty rare (I'll have to look into that when I have a chance) - I know we did win 12 in a row once, but the quality of the opposition in that streak was significantly lower than the current run. In the GameDay thread were singaporedbacksfan, Muu, Goose, icecoldmo, johngordonma, DiamondbacksWIn, AZDarkKnight, Ben, Frank and unnamedDBacksfan, so thanks to them for the input. And congratulations to the University of Arizona softball team, who also shutout the opposition, in winning the College World Series.
johngordonma wonders whether the one-run brilliance of the D-backs is cause for concern. Currently, we're 17-6 - if one-run games are truly a 50/50 proposition, the odds of such an extreme record (in either direction) are only 3.46%, so it does suggest more than dumb luck is in effect. However, the good thing is, dumb luck has no memory. While the odds certainly reckon that, in the next 23 such games, we won't go 17-6 again, our current streak does not mean we'll go 6-17. Something like 12-11 remains much more likely. We've been given an edge, but where things go from here is up to us...
Draft day today, though excitement definitely seems a little more muted than the past couple of years, where we had the best pick or, at least, a shot at the best player. We get to choose ninth, which should still give us a decent pick, and hopefully one that won't cost us more than a couple of million to sign. At least the new draft rules mean we won't see twelve-month holdouts like we did this year, and failure to sign will also be much less penalized than currently. That would seem to shift the balance of power towards the teams, and away from Scott Boras. Dancing in the streets is scheduled for 11 am.
Watched the second episode of The Show last night, which was mostly about Brian Barden. Some surprisingly honest criticism from then-scouting VP, Mike Rizzo, who described Barden as a "tweener" and a AAAA player. Also some interesting thoughts from the players on the importance of the mental aspects. If you haven't already done so, please check out the 'Ask Bill Murphy' contest going on in the diary section. Your chance to ask a baseball player that question you've always wanted to know the answer to.