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Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 4 - Valverde Saves the Day

Record: 69-53. Change on last season: +8. Pace: 92-70
Playoff odds: 57.5%. Playoff Magic Number: 38

Quote of the day: "I said, `Oh man, we've got the MVP versus the best closer in the game.' Fortunately my man Valverde did his thing, like always." -- Orlando Hudson

After the teams combined for eight hits, two walks, two errors and seven runs in the first inning and a half, we were all expecting one of these wild, offense-driven games that this series has, unexpectedly produced. However, the remaining 45 outs produced only two more runs, though describing this game as "well-pitched" would be a claim probably only Mrs. Hernandez could make. Livan will certainly have had prettier wins, relying far too much on the fortuitous double-play, and adding two more homers to his tally, once again leaving him tied for the major-league lead (27 now). On the other hand, he walked only one, and the result is what matters: that would be a big W by his name.

Chris Young had his 22nd homer, tying the franchise record for a rookie [Travis Lee, 1998] when he sent one out to lead off the first inning - the sixth time he's done that this year. However, as has become the norm, it was another solo shot: despite all his own trotting round the base-paths, he only has a total of 43 RBI this year. Put another way, he has driven himself in more times than he has driven in all his team-mates combined. Only two players with that many homers have done that over a whole season in baseball history: one was Bonds, in his 73 HR, 137 RBI year; the other, Chris Duncan who matched Young with 22 HR/43 RBI last year. Young's slugging percentage is 176 points higher when there aren't men on base.

All told, though, this was one of his best days, with three hits, and a crucial bit of base-running to score the go-ahead run in the second. Eric Byrnes struck out, but Hudson stole second on the play, and as the Marlins catcher tried to throw, he bobbled the ball and it got just far enough away for Young to slide home. He also made a great catch over his shoulder, right in the deepest part of the ballpark, though also made an ill-advised attempt to go to second on a single in the seventh, and was thrown out by about...well, 90 feet. [Livan had tried the same thing in the fourth, on his second hit of the day, and the results were similarly unattractive]

I have to say, I feared our commentators were tempting the baseball gods, by displaying a chart before Papa Grande pitched, that showed if he got this save, he would become the single-season franchise record-holder and take over the major-league lead. Having carefully not mentioned that to Mrs. SnakePit earlier, I groaned as they did so, reckoning that was it. And two walks later, with the only out a failed bunt attempt, popped up to Snyder, it looked bad. However, Valverde bore down, struck out Wood, and got the ever-dangerous Hanley Ramirez to pop weakly out to Clark. Disaster averted, without even having to genuflect before my copy of Bandidas. And no, "genuflect" does not mean what you think it does, you feelthy animals! :-)

Not quite so many hits in the final game, with only the gentlemen mentioned above getting more than one hit, though Hudson and Byrnes each got a hit and a walk. All told, however, we hit .319 for the series, with a healthy OPS of .851. That's the best average we've posted since the Tampa set, on June 18-20, where we batted .327. And that was in the friendly confines of Chase, not the cavernous (and largely empty!) wastes of Pro Player.

These three-figure GameDay Threads are becoming rather the norm these days: four in a row now. Which will probably mean nobody shows up for today's one against the Braves. :-) LucaMaz3, johngordonma, Peachy (welcome!), seton hall snake pit, Muu, andrewinnewyork, oklahomasooners, hotclaws, singaporedbacksfan, DbacksSkins, DiamondbacksWIn (who deserves to be earning $10m/year!), soco, and icecoldmo were on the roster. Mrs. SnakePit reckons Hernandez 2.0's entrance music needs to be I am the Walrus these days...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Jose Valverde, +20.9%
God-emperor of suck: Jeff Salazar, -8.8%
Honorary "Well done!": those three double-plays:

The win gives Arizona it's eighth consecutive series victory, although we only out-scored the opposition in four of those series - and one of those, the set against Pittsburgh, was by a single run. We're now 19-6 during that run, but have only scored ten more runs than we've conceded, 126-116. During this streak alone, we've outperformed Pythagorean expectations by 5.5 games.