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Diamondbacks 4, Brewers 7 - Gross and icky

Record: 71-56. Change on last season: +9. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 57.3%. Playoff Magic Number: 34

Quote of the day: "Maybe his mechanics are getting a little ahead of his arm to where he's not painting like we've seen him. This hasn't been his best stretch, but we'll try to clean him up and get him through it. He's a very important guy for us." -- Bob Melvin, on Tony Peña.

I think it's somewhat enlightening that, in today's Republic, Nick P uses the word "slumping" to describe the Arizona Diaomondbacks. I mention this, not as a criticism of Mr. Piecoro, but because of the light it sheds on our form since the All-Star break. The Diamondbacks have been so good that dropping three games in a row counts as a slump.

Admittedly, a Martian arriving to witness Monday's contest would be forgiven for doing a double-take with both heads, upon learning that the team, beaten like one of Michael Vick's less successful puppies, were actually the best in the NL West. And during said slump, we've scored six runs in three games, and batted only .206, with thirty strikeouts. What concerns me most, however, is that it runs our season record to 1-5 against Milwaukee, having been out-scored 15-35. And they're a team we could very likely face in the first round of the playoffs.

Unlike Monday, however, our realistic interest did last longer than the middle of the secon inning. We got as far as the top of the seventh, when the Brewers blew it open on a grand-slam by Gross off Pestileñce. I'm growin increasing concerned about Peña, who has an ERA of 8.68 this month, with opponents batting .306 off him. It's a worrying trend, as they batted .237 in July and a miniscule .135 in June. It might be wise to leave him out of high-leverage situations until we are confident of his arm once again. Put it this way: any runners inherited from Webb tonight, should not be passed to him!

Livan Hernandez pitched a decent game through the first six innings. He retired the Brewers in order four times, and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk. However, after the team had scratched their way back into the game, clawing out two runs to tie tie game in the bottom of the sixth, he allowed two doubles and a single to lead off the next frame, and Peña then took over. On the plus side, he kept the Brewers in the part, though with 14 of the 18 outs on fly-balls, perhaps more by luck than good judgement.

Mark Reynolds tied, but did not break, the major-league record, extending his streak of consecutive K's to nine. It ended, less by his skill than good fortune: getting hit by the first pitch he saw in the sixth. He then walked in the eighth, meaning he's gone eleven straight plate-appearances without putting the ball in play.

The walk did load the bases for Arizona with one out and the game tied, but Justin Upton took strike three, and Montero flied out, ending probably our best chance at winning the game. Jupton has been looking pretty over-matched of late: his average is down to .230, and his last extra-base hit was back on August 11. Since then, he's 5-for-31, with one walk and twelve K's.

Eric Byrnes did get three hits, pushing his average back over .300, and Conor Jackson also got three hits. Chris Young hit his NL rookie-leading 25th homer - a solo shot, his 21st of the year - to open the sixth. Despite going into the ninth five runs down, we did make things somewhat interesting, getting the tying run to the on-deck circle, and forcing the Nationals to wheel out Cordero, their closer. He carved up Drew on four pitches, however, to end the game and give us our first series defeat since the last time we played the Brewers.

A brisk Gameday Thread, heading past 250 comments by the time of writing. I'm very curious to see what we'll get tonight, as Webb seeks to extend his streak. Especially if he goes deep into the game, we could be looking to push towards 300? LucaMaz3, Ben, DbacksSkins, hotclaws, VIII, andrewinnewyork, Peachy, RJZ1977, DBACKS KICK ARSE, soco, singaporedbacksfan, 4CornersFan, Muu, cavscout, TwinnerA and batster were in attendance.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Stephen Drew, +13.6%
God-emperor of suck: Livan Hernandez, -25.7%
Honorary "Well done!": Chris Young, +11.5%

And on towards tonight!