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Diamondbacks 8, Padres 7 - Penelope the Unicorn Killer

Record: 75-60. Change on last season: +11. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 58.1%. Playoff Magic Number: 26

Quote of the day: "I never say no to nothing about pitching" -- Livan Hernandez

Today's reading comes from the Book of BoMel, Chapter 135:

  1. And St. Penelope of the Cross did slay the unicorn of many colors
  2. [Though it got a bit dodgy at the end there, for a minute, and she really needs to have a word with her disciple, John of the Cross]
  3. But Joe of the Green Valley did not fail us, and stood firm in the face of the unbelievers from the sea
  4. And there was much rejoicing in the land of the never-ending sun
  5. Albeit with the consumption of large quantities of soothing digestive products

My, that was fun. In the same way walking away from the Minnesota bridge collapse without a scratch would have been "fun", i.e. mostly because you look back and think how much worse it could have been. I have to say, I was impressed with the rallying power of the rainbow unicorn they wield over at Gaslamp Ball. While, of course, not able to defeat St. Penelope, eventually going down in a flailing, squealing heap of tangled, brightly-colored limbs, it was a bloody good fight.

At first, it looked like all that would be left of the unicorn would be the components for a novelty hat-stand, as Arizona's dormant offense awoke, moving out to an 8-0 lead. MarKKK Reynolds turned into Mark RBIeynolds: he opened the scoring by crushing a pitch from Evil Chris Young into the bleachers, a two-run shot among the longest homers ever hit at Petco [though a couple of feet shorter than the one he hit at Turner Field recently]. After we loaded the bases in the fifth, and chased Evil Chris Young, Stephen Drew walked to make it 3-0. And RBIeynolds went 0-2, then fouled off five pitches and took a ball before going to the wall on the ninth pitch for a three-RBI double.

When Clark, Drew and Snyder hit back-to-back-to-back doubles to open the seventh, it seems like piling on - little did we realise those would turn out to be crucial insurance. Davis got the first two in the seventh...and then things utterly fell apart. Getting the seven remaining outs required: nine hits, a walk, a plunking, three wild pitches, seven-eights of the lead evaporating, the tying run at second base, and Hudson and Upton colliding in the outfield. Oh, and Valverde striking out the Padres round a home-run to make it a one-run game.

Losing would have been an utter disaster, but coming through it with a W is, somehow...strengthening. If our bullpen must meltdown and get tagged for seven hits in 2.1 innings, coming into the game with a seven-run lead is a good time to do it. Certainly, I do not have any confidence in either Famine or Pestilence at the moment: they both have decent velocity but lack the movement or control to make them effective. Still, rosters expand tomorrow, and so we'll get some fresh arms in the bullpen.

That overshadowed a performance by Doug Davis which was, for the first six innings, as dominant a start as we've seen for him. He allowed only two hits and a walk as he took a shutout into the seventh, and left with an 8-1 lead, though his overall line was not helped by the bullpen allowing both inherited runners to score after he was in the dugout. Still, he got his 12th win, tying a career high: his record for the past four seasons has been remarkably consistent (12-11, 11-11, 11-11, 12-12), but with probably five or six more starts to go, he should do better. In the first half, opponents batted .300 off him, but since then, it's .217, and his walks/9 IP are also down to 3.65 from 5.03 before the break. His ERA is only .47 lower, but that is no longer utterly at odds with his other stats.

A phenomenal Gameday Thread, shattering all records and cruising past 400 into "automatically collapse posts into threads" mode for the first time. Wow. It was a lot of fun, covering everything from gay superheroes to the origins of the word "chav", though again, the happy ending probably made a lot of difference! Thanks to LucaMaz3, unnamedDBacksfan, soco, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, batster, hotclaws, Peachy, VIII, seton hall snake pit, andrewinnewyork, bjn, 4CornersFan, TwinnerA, singaporedbacksfan and icecoldmo for a board-busting performance. Definitely much more to talk about when your team is a bloop single from blowing an eight-run lead!

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Mark Reynolds, +27.0%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Snyder, -10.5%
Honorary "Well done!": Doug Daivs, +25.5%

It's an interesting graph, mostly because, even in the depths of the meltdown, the Padres' chances of victory never got past 20.6% - after Slaten's wild pitch put the tying run on second in the bottom of the eighth. I don't know about you, but it felt an awful lot worse than that at the time. Of course, it's all relative: after Davis got the first two outs in the seventh, San Diego only had a 0.2% chance of victory. So, I guess, increasing that a hundred-fold probably explains why it was such a nerve-wracking experience.