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Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1 - Sing When You're Winning...

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Record: 73-57. Change on last season: +10. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 67.7%. Playoff Magic Number: 28

Quote of the day: "He's got more home runs than me lately; that's for sure." -- Conor Jackson, on Micah Owings

Oh, yes. Thank you to the baseball gods for that one: I spent most of the later innings offering them all my minor internal organs, just as long as we held on for the win. [Surgery is scheduled for September 6th. It's an off-day.] And so it proved, as a heroic outing by our pitchers turned away the Cubs, even as our hitters still struggled - six games in a row now, scoring four runs or less. That was an absolutely essential victory: early on, we knew the Padres had won, and so a loss would have reduced our lead in the division to one game.

It was particularly nerve-wracking early. Each starter was perfect through the first two innings, but the Cubs had the first chance, with a leadoff double in the third, who advanced to third on a groundout. Fortunately, the pitcher was up, and after a suicide squeeze attempt that I'm sure took five years off my life, Davis fanned his opposite number, and got a groundout to end the threat. JUpton laid down a beautiful bunt in our half, but Drew took care of that with a double-play ball, and the zeroes continued.

One of the keys to the game I talked with soco about beforehand was scoring first, and taking the Cubs fans out of things. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened: Byrnes singled with two outs in the fourth, and Jackson reached double-figures in homers for the season with a shot to left-field on a 2-2 pitch. The Cubs fans deflated like an inflatable doll with a leak, and that was basically the end of them for the game. There were a few weak "Let's go Cubbies" chants thereafter, but they were limited in duration and volume compared to Friday, and the obnoxious taunting was entirely absent, I'm pleased to report. I kinda wish this had been a football game, as the home fans would have been able to break out this chant:

Can you hear the Cubbies sing? No-o, no-o!
Can you hear the Cubbies sing? No-o, no-o!
Can you hear the Cubbies sing?
We can't hear a f______ thing!
No, we can't hear you at all!

That'd have been nice. :-) That provided a bit of breathing room, but the Cubs took care of half of it in the sixth, on Ramirez's RBi single, but Davis stranded the tying run at second on a flyball to Young. And he repeated the medicine in the seventh, getting pinch-hitter Floyd to pop to Cirillo at third with a runner on second. Brandon Lyon, was clearly taking notes, and the Cubs got a man into scoring position in the eighth too; it looked like an "unintentional intentional walk' to Ramirez, to get at Monroe. But Lyon roared, fanning Monroe, with the crowd on its feet. High-fives were exchanged with soco as a result. Valverde avoided any drama by keeping the tying run from the plate, with a 1-2-3 nith. Thank you, Jose. I don't think my heart could have stood the pressure!

The Diamondbacks had added a very, very welcome insurance run by that point; Justin Upton celebrated his birthday driving Snyder in with a double into the gap. That was his second hit of the game, and Byrnes (with a hit and a walk) was the only other Diamondback to reach safely more than once. Another case where strikeouts heavily outnumbered walks: 10:1 today, bringing the total for the homestand to 37:10. With a moribund OPS of only .616, I'm looking for the offense to step it up today, because our two wins have very definitely come courtesy of the pitching staff.

All hail Doug Davis yesterday, who bounced back from his previous poor outing with seven innings of one-run ball. He struck out eight and walked only one, levelling his record at 11-11. The lack of walks is again key; in seven starts where he has pitched more than four innings and given out two or less free passes, he is 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Outside that one start, he's had an excellent August, and it'll be crucial if he can keep it up down the stretch.

Game Notes

  • Is there more pleasant company than losing Cubs fans away from home? The difference in atmosphere yesterday was like night and day, compared to Friday. There was an intensity in the air that surpassed anything short of a playoff game, but it was a good intensity that made for a wonderful baseball experience. I think the score kept the more unpleasant elements of Cubdom in check. Also worth noting that I saw hardly anyone, of either fandom, leave before the final out.

  • Very, very crowded, however. I arrived almost an hour and a half before first pitch, and all the free parking for blocks around had already gone. Sliders' and Jackson on Third were utterly rammed an hour ahead of the game, again creating a great atmosphere, and even as we walked to Chase Field, there were a lot of poor, misguided souls still trying to park. The couple next to us (and their baby) didn't get to their seats until after three innings.

  • Thank heavens for the roof. It wasn't that hot out, but it was horribly humid. Even standing around at Jackson's before the game, not actually moving at all, I was dripping like... [Insert obligatory Paris Hilton reference here] Luckily, the air-conditioning inside dried me out nicely. But Arizona in August? Not nice. Wonder what it's like in Chicago?

  • Best. KissCam. Ever. After the usual rounds of smooching couples, they went way up to the top deck and found a lonesome Cubs fan all on his own, who clearly couldn't see the Jumbotron, going by his lack of reaction. To make things even more amusing, he was the spitting image of Steve Bartman, right down to the headphones. But it ended well, as two girls charged out of nowhere over to give him a big hug. We love happy endings.

  • Perhaps the loudest cheers of the game were in the ninth, for Valverde against Murton. "Cheer for a Thirstbuster" flashed the Jumbotron, as we were one K short of our free coupon. I think that might have united the Cubs and D-backs fans for a moment: hey, the Cubs needed to take something from the game except for a Mark Grace bobble-head!

  • I am, however, totally drained. My voice is gone, and having spent three hours utterly tensed-up, my neck and shoulders feel as if they've been hit with a bag of ballpen hammers. But, boy, was it worth it!

Thanks to the Gameday Threaders were: icecoldmo, hotclaws, DbacksSkins, johngordonma, Peachy, LucaMaz3, andrewinnewyork, VIII, TwinnerA, soco and DBACKS KICK ARSE. Thanks in particular to soco for taking my spare ticket off my hands: sorry about getting stuck in the parking garage! I didn't have any such hassles, but I'll certainly be sure to give that location a wide berth for any future firework-related endeavors! A big win for Arizona, keeps our lead at two games, and guarantees we will welcome the Padres to town as division leader. That's going to be an absolutely crucial series, I think.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Doug Davis, 34.1%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -9.3%
Honorary "Well done!": Conor Jackson, +16.8%