Record: 55-48. Change on last season: +3. Pace: 87-75
Playoff odds: 15.4%. Magic number: 62
Quote of the day: "I'm going to have someone punch me in the arm before I start and go with that." -- Brandon Webb
Been a couple of months since we've had back-to-back victories of such a convincing scale: probably the May 24-25 games, where we beat Houston by a combined margin of 22-4. The Marlins came in as one of the best-scoring teams in the NL, but we've closed that down, restricting them to six runs in total, over the first three games. Last night, Webb, Famine and Sinister combined on a seven-hit shutout, and Arizona rolled to their fifth straight victory, our seventh streak, one way or the other, of five games or more.
Sinister? Oh, yeah: Doug Slaten's got a 2.39 ERA, so certainly deserves to be an associate member of the Four Horsemen, at least. And what better name for a southpaw pitcher, since 'sinister' was originally a Latin term for 'left', or 'to the left'. [Never say this site isn't educational. Useful...perhaps not. But educational, for sure.] Our bullpen over the season has a 3.58 ERA, third-best in the league. That's a) pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly parks, and b) includes four innings by EnGon, Eveland and Durbin, which resulted in thirteen earned runs. The current members of the pen have a combined ERA of 3.19.
You'd have got long odds against a shutout after the first inning, as Webb walked three and threw 27 pitches before getting Olivo to ground-out with the bases loaded. Chants of "Are you Davis in disguise?" resounded round Chase, but Webb settled down, with no walks the rest of the way, fanning eight over seven innings. Though the Marlins still left eleven on, the second-most in D-backs franchise history for a nine-inning shutout. [The most was 13, in the 2-0 shutout of the Dodgers, on June 27 - another seven-inning start for Webb, incidentally.]
Chris Young led off the bottom of the first with another homer, but it was the third inning Arizona where unloaded. In particular, with two outs in the third, where we unleashed six straight hits, including three doubles, in less time than it takes Scott Olsen to drink three doubles. For the second straight evening, we had a 7-0 lead after four innings: we might get used to this. Nice to have a couple of games without needing to reach for the Alka-Seltzer.
Twelve hits all told, with two each for Byrnes, Jackson, Reynolds, Drew and Hairston, while Snyder, again batting #6, reached three times on a hit and two walks. That takes our post-break batting average up to .257 - eighth in the NL, but trailing only the Dodgers (a startling .316) in the division. Our team ERA, meanwhile, is 3.19, second-best in the league, behind the Cubs; the Dodgers have posted a mediocre 4.69, so they have issues of their own, clearly.
Another upbeat Gameday Thread: five wins in a row will do that! singaporedbacksfan, LucaMaz3, fjm235, DiamondbacksWIn, DbacksSkins, Frank, Muu andf AZDarkKnight joined in the fun. The Dodgers and Padres both lost, so that tightened things up appreciably, and improved our playoff odds accordingly. I've added those to the header of each game report, so we'll monitor that until it reaches 100% or 0%!
Once again, the starting pitcher dominated both ends. Our worst hitter was Scott Hairston at -1.9%, but again, we came close to having no-one in negative territory. This one was over by the end of the third, as we sat at a 95% chance of victory. fjm235 points out that we are perfect - now 20-0 - when scoring seven runs or more this year. We've actually won 29 in a row, dating back to an 8-7 loss to Houston on August 4 last year.
A hearty "Get Well Soon" to Ron Pennington, the Golden Glover who chases foul balls down the left-field line. He fell over trying to make a play last night: we sniggered merrily at this, but turns out he broke a bone in his wrist. :-( I've already had my karmic retribution: spoke to my Dad in Scotland today, and learned he has to have a hip-replacement op, so I am suitably humbled. Hope to see you down the line again soon, Ron.
Also, a hearing today in Phoenix on whether to open the Grimsley affidavit. In particular, whether to reveal the names Grimsley coughed up. If the judge decides the affidavit should be revealed in all it's glorious, nausea-inducing totality...hang on to your hats, as the finger-pointing could begin in steroid-enhanced earnest.