Record: 48-43. Change on last season: +3. Pace: 85-77
Quote of the day: "A lot of times, you go back there and the ball is 30 rows deep and it's just kind of a courtesy runback. I went back there and you could tell that maybe I had a shot at it. I've tried hundreds of times in my career and came up empty a lot and knocked them over a couple of times. That one hit the mitt and stuck. I had to check to make sure it was in there." -- Jeff Salazar
Okay, one game is probably slightly too small of a sample size to tell, but at the moment, dumping Seitzer and replacing him with Rick Schu looks like a work of genius. We got both timely hitting and clutch hitting - seven runs scored with two out, and we were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Arizona pounded out fifteen hits and scored eight runs: the last time we had more than either of those, in a game that didn't go to extra innings, was all the way back on May 29. Every starter bar Doug Davis has a hit, with Jeff Salazar and Eric Byrnes getting three each: looks like EB is not going gently into his usual second-half slump.
Davis reduced both his ERA and his WHIP, allowing five hits and three walks over six innings, with only two earned runs. After cruising through the front three, he did hit trouble in the fourth, loading the bases with one out and a run already in. But he got Michael Barrett to hit into a 6-4-3 double-play, to limit the damage. There were some hard-hit balls after that too, though only a Kouzmanoff homer hurt Davis, and another double-play in the sixth meant we hang "Quality Start" around his neck. I'll take that, even if I'd be happier if he wasn't walking more people than he struck out. Meanwhile, Greg Maddux sunk to a lifetime record of 1-10 against the Diamondbacks, and is still winless in Arizona after ten attempts. Remarkable given his Hall of Fame credentials.
The turning point in this game, however, probably didn't come from the mound, or at the plate. I don't normally 'borrow' photos, but I trust Jerome T. Nakagawa and the Republic will forgive it this time. Because Jeff Salazar's grab, above and beyond the right-field fence, was the most amazing play I've seen this year, and certainly among the finest in franchise history. I can't link directly to the video; there's a link on this page, and it's worth going out and getting high-speed Internet purely to see this. Davis was half-way to the home-plate umpire to get another ball: if Salazar hadn't made it, we were in a one-run game, and Capt. Momentum was pulling on a jersey with an morbidly obese monk on the sleeve.
Instead, we held on, and even pulled away, scoring four runs against the much-vaunted Padres bullpen. Okay, it was the back-end, admittedly; but Cla Meredith is probably their "mop-up" guy, and even he has an ERA+ of 114. We showed good patience against them, seeing 82 pitches over the last four innings, and Chris Snyder's two-run single in the bottom of the seventh gave us some welcome breathing room - Clark followed up with an RBI single, his first hit of any kind since June 20. That allowed us to skip Valverde for the ninth, with Slaten mopping up instead.
Fun GameDay Thread, with the main debate centering on working out Who's Who in our Four Relievers of the Apocalypse. After discussion, we've come up with the following list:
- Famine: Juan Cruz
- Pestileñce: Tony Peña
- War: Brandon Lyon
- Death: Jose Valverde
Now, if we can only talk the Diamondbacks into letting Valverde ride from the bullpen to the mound on a pale horse, carrying a scythe, we'll be right there. Discussing this, and other things, were Ridster, DiamondbacksWIn, hotclaws, DbacksSkins, singaporedbacksfan, AZDarkKnight and oklahomasooners. Good way to start the second half of the season, pulling us to 2.5 games back of the Padres. Losing streak? Nah, must have been a bad dream I had.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Doug Davis, +15.7% [pitching]
God-emperor of suck: Doug Davis, -5.3% [hitting]
Special bonus award for all-round awesomeness: Jeff Salazar
We've caught a huge break for Sunday's game. Jake Peavy will not be starting for the Padres, because of a sore biceps. His start is being pushed back a couple of days, so Brandon Webb will instead be facing Justin Germano. Not that he's bad: still, would you rather we faced a pitcher with an ERA+ of 104, like Germano - or one all the way up at 184, such as Peavy? I think we've all made more difficult decisions than that. Means I won't get to see the Padres ace, of course. Ask me if I really care. I'll settle for a blowout victory, any day.
Quick update on Carlos Quentin, who is now down in Tucson. He opened with a three hit, three RBI in his debut Thursday, and then played a double-header yesterday. Overall, he's 4-for-10: it seems that simply getting him out of the immediate vicinity of Kevin Seitzer was enough to restore us back to Quentin v.2006. Seitzer was, I think, some kind of psychic hitting vampire, draining the offensive lifeforce from his victims. No wonder we didn't see him at day games. :-) We'll probably find a coffin filled with earth, tucked away in a basement at Chase Field.
Seitzer, meanwhile, is whining. "I don't feel like it was my fault that we were hitting .248 as a team, even though I assumed the responsibility and felt like I was working my butt off and doing a good job, to be honest... I thought when they hired me they were going to give me a chance, and I felt like I got half a chance... It wasn't all the players that were the ones complaining about me. Maybe one or two, but there wasn't the majority." No, I'm sure the players were working their butts off too: it's us poor fans, forced to watch Quentin waving wildly at anything in the Chase Field zip-code, who have a right to complain. He says it's natural for young hitters to struggle. Let me correct that for you, Kevin: "It's natural for young hitters I work with to struggle." Because Drew, Quentin, etc. did not struggle during their minor-league careers, nor last year, when you weren't around. I'm sure the Little Leaguers in Kansas City, Mo. will be glad to have you back though.
Ok, while that's a little harsh, Seitzer has no track record in this area, never having been the hitting coach on a major-league team. What are the Diamondbacks supposed to do? Sit around with their thumbs up their dugouts, and see if he comes around? What happens if we reach the end of the season, and it really was Seitzer's responsibility? We'd have lost a year of development, possibly more, for a team that's going to be almost entirely reliant on young hitters. It's definitely better to jump the gun on this, than wait too long. We'll see what Schu does, and how the players respond, but a change is as good as a rest; going by last night's results, getting both is better still.