Record: 71-53. Change on last season: +9. Pace: 93-69
Playoff odds: 77.1%. Playoff Magic Number: 35
Quote of the day: "It's up there with the best ever. To be back home and have the game I had tonight, I'm just unbelievably blessed." -- Micah Owings
Blessed. That's one way to put it. It's probably best just to start of with a litany of the records set or broken by Micah Owings during the game tonight. Not so much with his pitching, as the final line (seven innings pitched, three earned runs) was respectable, rather than spectacular, but the hitting. He's been talking a mean at-bat, and while the reality has been good (.205 and 5 RBI), it's not quite been as claimed. All that changed this evening: we came up with some of these during the Gameday Thread, but they're worth a recount, in increasing order of awesomeness.
Four hits. Franchise record for a pitcher - previous best, three, by three players, most recently EnGon (July 17, 2006). Bobby Livingston had four hits just a few weeks ago (July 16th) for the Reds against Atlanta, but the last pitcher before him was back in 2001, on August 11th, when it was done by...Livan Hernandez. 26 pitchers since 1957 have managed it.
Two homers. Franchise record for a pitcher - previous best, one, by eleven players, most recently Micah himself on July 26th. It's the first time in the majors since Dontrelle Willis did it on September 20th last year, but it's kinda rare: only five occasions since 1990, and eight since 1978. Rick Wise and Dick Donovan managed it twice in one season (1971 and 1962), while Tony Cloninger did it twice in one month (6/16 + 7/3, 1966). Wise also threw a no-hitter in one of his games!
Six RBI. Franchise record for a pitcher - previous best, three, by Brandon Webb (5/20/06) and Andy Benes (9/22/99). Only one pitcher has reached that level since 1969; Robert Person had seven RBI for the Phillies against Montreal on June 2nd, 2002: he had a grand-slam in the first and a three-run homer in the fifth.
Eleven total bases That destroys the franchise record for a pitcher - the previous best was only four, by (duh!) all the pitchers who hit a home run, and Brian Anderson, who tripled and singled back in 2001. Only seventeen position players in the entire majors this year have managed eleven bases in a game: it's the most by a pitcher, at least since 1957, which is as far as BaseballReference.com records go back for game performances. We're waiting for a formal judgement, but this could conceivably be the best hitting performance by a pitcher in baseball history...
Not technically a record, but still extremely worthy of mention. Owings' line at the plate is now .273/.283/.568, for an OPS of .851. That OPS is ahead of everyone else on the team bar Eric Byrnes, who's at .857, and would rank him 47th among qualifying major-league hitters this year. Players with a lower OPS this season include: Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Derek Jeter, Frank Thomas, Ichiro, Adrian Beltre and (hahaha!) Luis Gonzalez.
Outside of the offensive juggernaut which was Micah Owings, what else is there to talk about? A vaguely interesting feat, in that he gave up only three hits, but all three were home-runs. Cliff Lee did that too, for Cleveland on June 8th, but they fall well short of the best in this category: Charlie Hough of Texas pitched 7.2 innings against Cleveland on June 24th, 1989, and gave up five hits, all of which left the park. But Owings is the first pitcher to do it and pick up the win, since Ramon Ortiz pitched a complete-game four hitter, with four solo shots, on June 14th, 2002. Good for Micah to get the victory monkey off his back, earning his first W in ten starts.
The rest of the offense hopped aboard the M-Train as well, with Orlando Hudson pacing Owings, getting four hits and two RBI. Stephen Drew and Jeff Salazar also got two apiece. Young and Reynolds were the only starters not to get a hit, though Tony Clark probably had the worst day, going 1-for-5 with a double-play and eight men left on base. Chipper Jones homered to give Atlanta the lead in the first, but Arizona reeled off twelve straight runs, around a rain delay, to put this one away, helped somewhat by three Braves errors.
Owings then allowed back-to-back long balls to Francoeur and Andruw Jones, but got to walk off the mound under his own steam at the end of the seventh. Nippert did get some work, posting a scoreless eighth, before Jailen Peguero probably punched his own ticket back to Tucson tomorrow, with a lifeless inning. He allowed three runs, all earned, on four hits, as the Braves restored a bit of respectability to proceedings, having managed only five base-runners (three hits, one walk, one HBP) and one run in the first fifteen innings of this series. Still, it wasn't enough, by a very long way, and the Diamondbacks are now assured of their ninth consecutive series victory.
The "What will Micah do next?" Gameday Thread was thoroughly entertaining, though personally, my enthusiasm for the game waned after Micah's mortality was cruelly exposed, the Braves finally getting him out at the fifth attempt. Joining me in praise of Micah were Ben, LucaMaz3, hotclaws, DBACKS KICK ARSE, DbacksSkins, VIII, Peachy, DbacksSkins, TwinnerA, snakecharmer, Englishdback, oklahomasooners, batster, npineda, johngordonma, icecoldmo and muu.
[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Micah 'The Hitman' Owings, +27.6%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Clark, -8.3%
Honorary "Well done!": Micah 'The Pitcher' Owings, +13.9%
We've seen cases where the starter has been both at the top and bottom of the win expectancy chart: but I think this is the first ever time he has been #1 and #2 in the same game!