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Diamondbacks 7, Cardinals 1 - Who Needs a Big Unit, When You Have a Petit One?

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Record: 47-38. Change on last season: +7. Pace: 90-72

Quote of the day: "There's no telling how it happened. Other than maybe putting a lot of torque on my spine, which you are supposed to do when you pitch. I was throwing 95-97. Maybe I put too much strain on it. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I just play one on TV." -- Randy Johnson

This team never ceases to surprise me. Sometimes, it's not in a good way [remember the weekend? I'm trying to forget it, myself...], but just when things looked at their darkest yesterday, the team suddenly decided to play to their potential. We smacked the Cards starter around to the tune of six runs in the first three innings, and Yusmeiro Petit - looking set for a significant stay in the rotation now - left the mound after 5.1 innings, with a zero still beside the Cardinals. To describe almost everything about the game as pleasantly unexpected was putting it mildly; the doom and gloom of 24 hours ago now seems like it happened to an entirely different team. Well, at least until today's game, anyway.

Where to start? I guess it has to be with the Petit Unit, who made his second emergency start, arriving in the Diamondbacks clubhouse only three hours before game-time, but was still even more effective than first time around. He allowed just three singles and a walk through the first five innings; he loaded the bases with one out before Melvin came and got him, and Peña limited the damage, allowing only a sacrifice fly. It did seem like a little bit of a quick hook, Petit having only thrown 70 pitches, but he was pitching on short rest, his last start having been Friday for Tucson. Better safe than sorry, probably.

Said Melvin after the game,"He keeps the ball down, throws strikes, gets ahead of guys. It's amazing what you can do when you can locate your fastball and keep it down." Though I think he might have been looking pointedly at Doug Davis when he said it. How good is that trade with the Marlins looking now? They got 9.1 innings at a 12.54 ERA from Julio, before dumping him on Colorado for Byung-Hung Kim. Petit has already given us more than that. Though just for amusement, here's a comparison between the major-league career numbers of Yusmeiro and the man he replaced, going into last night's game:

       Big Unit   Petit Unit
Age        43         22
Starts    556          2
Wins      284          1
K's     4,616         25
CY's        5          0

Johnson goes back on the DL for the third time - and we're not even at the All-Star break. MLB.com has a lengthy piece, and I tend to think Johnson is not coming back any time soon. Says the Big Unit, "It feels like there's a sharp knife going in my hamstring. That's just part of having a herniated disk. If we can get all that under control, hopefully I'll be able to get back to square one again, play catch, get on the mound and throw a simulated game and be able to pitch somewhere down the road." Somewhere down the road. That doesn't sound like he'll be back after the All-Star break, does it?

Nice to see the offense click again, taking advantage of early Cardinals mis-cues that gave Arizona five outs in the first inning, and then piling on with back-to-back homers by Tracy and Reynolds in the third. Every starter got a hit, with Hudson and Drew getting two each, and Chris Young adding a homer. Bit disturbing when Eric Byrnes gets the team's only walk. Excellent Gameday Thread; what a difference some runs make! hotclaws contributed the title to today's thread, so thanks for that. Also present: Wimb the gainfully-employed, singaporedbacksfan, DbacksSkins, AZDarkKnight, unnamedDBacksfan, peeklay, oklahomasooners (who'll be at today's game) and suitsmetoATnT.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chad Tracy, +13.9%
God-emperor of suck: Eric Byrnes, -3.2%

After that game where nobody managed a positive contribution, we weren't far off doing the complete opposite yesterday. The only others sub-zero were Scott Hairston (-3.1%) and Carlos Quentin (-0.4%). Though I figure Mark Reynolds deserves extra credit for his defense in the ninth inning, throwing out Scott Rolen from his knees, after a full-length grab. Definite nominee for AZ Play of the Year.

Seems like a good time to update the various D-backs Watches. Our Purple Row bet has gone swimmingly well over the past week, with Lopez tattooed to the tune of 14 runs in 8.2 innings, jacking his ERA up by 1.84 runs. The Gonzo/LF comparison is basically a wash, but it looks like Young and Owings chances of RotY honors are slipping away; the Pads' Germano may be the best rookie pitcher currently in the NL. And just to expand on something mentioned in the Gameday thread:
    Young Relievers 2007: under 27, at least 30 IP, by greatest ERA+
We've got three of the top 15; Lyon at #3, Peña at #4 and Valverde at #15. Admittedly, we're still talking small sample sizes, but it's encouraging for the future.

Ok, that's it: off to relax for the day, since I don't have to work. Will be back for this afternoon's game, though I'll probably have to take Mrs. SnakePit out for dinner, since she has to work today. Seems only fair!