Record: 47-39. Change on last season: +6. Pace: 89-73
Quote of the Day: "It's definitely something you notice. Guys see that. Nobody really likes that." -- Cardinal Brendan Ryan, on Livan's post-HR showboating.
It's ironic - but probably inevitable - that the day I praise Brandon Lyon as being the third-best reliever in the majors this year, he goes out and has probably his worst outing of the season. Three hits in the eighth inning, with a little help from Eric Byrnes flopping at a ball, turned a lead into a deficit, and there just wasn't any time left for us to come back. Plenty of Heroes and Villains to go around though. Aside of the two previously mentioned, we also slap around Augie Ojeda for failing to get a bunt down after Drew's leadoff double in the ninth gave us a chance, and perhaps we should also added Hernandez 2.0 for showboating his way around the bases: way to fire up the opposition, Livan.
Though Livan also deserves to be on the Heroes side: another quality start, with no walks in seven innings, and he also smacked a two-run homer. He's the tenth D-backs pitcher in franchise history to hit a four-bagger:
- Andy Benes, 4/10/98 @ San Diego
- Gregg Olson, 4/20/98 vs. Florida
- Andy Benes, 7/22/99 @ Houston
- Brian Anderson, 8/4/99 vs. San Francisco
- Todd Stottlemyre, 4/26/00 @ Philadelphia
- Omar Daal, 6/27/00 vs. Houston
- Miguel Batista, 6/2/02 @ Los Angeles
- Randy Johnson, 9/19/03 @ Milwaukee
- Javier Vazquez, 5/28/05 vs Los Angeles
- Livan Hernandez, 7/4/07 @ St. Louis
Miguel Montero provided the rest of the offense, with a two-run homer in the second, and then made a couple of excellent plays in the bottom of the third to preserve the lead. He snagged Kennedy's failed bunt to nail the lead runner, then got Kennedy when he tried to steal. Scott Hairston also had a diving grab of a sinking liner in the fifth to keep us ahead. Though he deserves some villainy points for not making a better attempt on Ryan's homer - a tough, but achievable, play. I also wonder if Hairston's full-length catch inspired Byrnes to try, and fail, at the same kind of thing later on.
Again, at the risk of sounding like a scratched record of Joseph Reaves' Greatest Columns [a very short-playing record that], more failures with runners in scoring position probably cost us this one. 1-for-11, though I suppose getting runners into scoring position is an improvement over the first two games of this month, when we had a grand total of three at-bats with RISP. That's the same as we had in the ninth inning alone yesterday.
Byrnes, Drew and Montero had two hits apiece. Miggy is quietly beginning to hit better: since his average hit a low of .194 on May 25, he's batting .283 (17-for-60) with an .845 OPS, and has been rewarded with starts in four of the last six games. Drew is improving too, but very, very slowly. His current .245 average is the highest its been for a month, but it's been in the .233-.245 range the entire time. I guess that's consistent? He hasn't gone more than back-to-back games hitless since May 11.
Thanks to hotclaws and DbacksSkins for the great majority of the comments. unnamedDBacksfan poked his head around the door, to confirm the existence of Livan's homer, but otherwise, that was it. I guess the rest of us were too busy stuffing our faces and watching fireworks. Though I have to say, the Tempe Town Lake display was very disappointing, especially compared to the Boston and New York shows.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Stephen Drew, +26.3%
God-emperor of suck: Brandon Lyon, -51.7%
[In case you're wondering: Livan = +15.7% pitching, +10.0% hitting]
Finally, I update our WL chart to show our record compared to those of the past two seasons. The chart can be found here. This year ie blue, last year is burgundy, and 2005 is yellow. So far, we've avoided the "June swoon", - but I'm a lot more concerned about the July swoon at the moment...