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Diamondbacks 1, Reds 8 - One-hit Wonders

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Record: 47-41. Change on last season: +4. Pace: 87-75

Quote of the day: "I'm not going to sit here and say I want to go to the outfield. But you've got four guys at the corners right now... It's not easy not playing every day, especially if you're a young guy." -- Conor Jackson on a possible change of position.

Let's just review, shall we? Since the start of the Dodgers series, we have nine losses in twelve games - including a 2-6 record against three of the worst teams in the National League. The Diamondbacks are scoring less than three runs per game. And our offense is hitting .222 over that period. Oh, plus it would have been worse (.217), save for that ninth-inning batting "explosion" last night, where we got three hits in a row, albeit meaningless ones, for what feels like the first time since dinosaurs roamed the Chase Field outfield. And I don't mean Gonzo and Steve Finley.

Sending Carlos Quentin to Triple-A was a start, but anyone expecting it to be an instant cure for all our ills got a very rude awakening yesterday. I was being somewhat facetious with my pre-game comment that we are "bringing solace to bad pitchers everywhere," but that proved horribly prescient. Kyle Lohse, who came in with a career ERA of 4.86, career best of 4.18, and a 4-10 record this year threw a one-hitter against Arizona for the first eight innings. All our scoring came on a bases-loaded double-play ball in the ninth. It seems this team has a supernatural ability to play down to the level of their opponents.

Here's a harsh reality-check, in the shape of our hitters' stats for the past 30 days. Minimum of 50 plate-appearances to qualify, so that's Tony Clark [batting a solid .147 since the start of June, with 2 BB and 15 K] breathing a sigh of relief. It's sorted by OPS:

              BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  BB  SO
Hudson      .316 .419 .449 .868  17  18
Byrnes      .308 .344 .444 .788   7  21
Montero     .260 .315 .460 .775   4   8
Drew        .253 .320 .440 .760   9  19
Tracy       .203 .277 .432 .709   8  14
Jackson     .247 .337 .364 .701  11   9
Snyder      .200 .275 .400 .675   4  15
Hairston    .235 .291 .373 .664   4   8
Reynolds    .194 .243 .403 .646   5  23
Young       .178 .239 .336 .575   7  25
Quentin     .179 .262 .268 .530   4  13

Looking at this chart, it seems we should perhaps have saved some money and chartered a bus for Tucson, since I think anywhere from Tracy down are not performing up to scratch. Reynolds and Young, in particular, are showing relentlessly-poor plate discipline, and over the past month have, in fact, both been getting on base less often than the Sidewinders' latest acquisition was managing. This also shows why Montero needs to be the regular catcher, with an oPS a hundred points better than Snyder lately.

The problem is, we don't really have very many options at the moment, and Salazar going hitless last night is an early indication that we shouldn't expect the same results as last year. Then, it seemed we could pluck random players from the Tucson roster, and have them hit like major-leaguers right away. Reynolds might find himself replaced by Callaspo soon though, if the team feels like taking another PR hit. Callaspo has been tearing it up for the Sidewinders since being sent down in mid-June: he's batting at a .405 clip, having gone 30-for-74. Mere coincidence this resurrection has come since he escaped the evil clutches of Kevin Seitzer? We'll keep an eye on what Quentin does.

Another cause for concern is Micah Owings, whose name will officially be changed to Micah Pwned if he keeps this up. He failed for the second consecutive time to reach the fifth inning - and, like clockwork, that third time through the order proved his downfall. The Reds went Double, out, Homer, HBP, Single, Walk before Owings was pulled. This raised opponents' batting average after the second time through against him to exactly .400, with an OPS of a monstrous 1.212. The cutoff appears to be at, or very close to, the 75-pitch mark and needs to be addressed - or he should be moved to the bullpen, at least until he develops that third pitch all starters require to be effective.

Thanks, merci, danke, obrigado to those who took part in the multi-lingual Gameday Thread - especially Muu, who taught us all some interesting phrases to use should we ever go to Brazil. And want to get beaten up in a local bar. :-) That's what I call 'color commentary'... But few could argue they were entirely appropriate for the Diamondbacks inept performance last night. Also around were hotclaws, DbacksSkins, unnamedDBacksfan, suitsmetoATnT, jrose643 [looking for a ticket stub from the May 24th Astros game; drop me a line if you've got one spare], AZSEAfan, kylerkenney, icecoldmo, DiamondbacksWIn and AZDarkKnight, the last-named of whom was lucky enough to miss the entire game.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Orlando Hudson, +4.4%
God-emperor of suck: Micah Owings, -22.9%

Thanks to the Dodgers and Padres losing, we're still 2.5 games back, but the way we're playing at the moment, any contention is an illusion, brought on by the 115-degree temperatures and inadequate hydration. Though things could be worse: we could be White Sox fans, who watched their pitching staff surrender thirty-two runs yesterday, in the course of a double-header against the Twins. That's the most in a day since the Red Sox took the Athletics for 35, more than sixty-eight years ago [July 4, 1939]. The significance of this to Arizona is, they'll probably listen to offers for Jermaine Dye. But we just got rid of a sub-.215 hitting right-fielder. Do we really want another?

New poll up: what do we need at the trade deadline? Little need for further explanation there, I think. Somewhat surprising result in the latest poll, with a majority of readers wanting to sign Eric Byrnes to a contract extension. Given that he's been about the only reliable cog in the offense for almost the entire season, I can understand this, but he's going to demand too much, for too long. He probably deserves it - just not in Arizona. We'll also see if he can avoid the second-half slump that has plagued him almost every year in his career.

Skimming through the New Times today, I noticed this text in the corner of an advert for Sinn "showclub" [that's a stripclub to you and me, as if the name of the place didn't give that away...]: "Baseball Fans! Why spend 4 hours at the game when you can spend two hours at Sinn? 1/2 price beers and better visuals." Two thoughts come to mind. Firstly, it says something about the extortionate concession prices at Chase, that a strip-club can charge half as much. And, secondly, even for a hardcore Diamondbacks fan such as myself, I think I'd rather endure three hours of crap rap in the company of "the very lovely" Tiffany, Bambi and Chrystal, than watch another D-backs game. So if I don't get a Gameday Thread posted today, you know why. I'll see you and your dollar bills in the front-row seats.

Congratulation to Brandon Webb, who is going to the All-Star Game after all, despite a dismal showing in the Final Man vote. He's replacing Brian Fuentes who sucks farts out of dead dogs has a sore shoulder. And, finally, as our sponsorship of Dustin Nippert had expired, thought we should probably snag another player. Flying the flag, y'know...