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Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 6 - Kim-plosion...but with a happy ending

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Record: 64-51. Change on last season: +6. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 39.7%. Magic number: 46

Quote of the day: "Better than in New York" -- Byung-Hyun Kim, on his reception.

Kim. Bless his heart. Who else could be booed by a bunch of know-nothings in the home crowd before his first start (hey, way to boost your starter's morale!), and still come back with a sardonic comment? Okay, it was certainly not the outing we hoped for - frankly, as the third inning unfolded, I slumped lower and lower in my seat, trying to hide the 'KIM' name on the back. But the end result is what matters, and that's another Diamondbacks victory, pushing us two games ahead of the Padres.

Not that his will stop the vilification of our starter, not least in the hatchet job by Joseph Reaves: "Kim had two blown saves, one two-out, game-tying home run and two, two-out, game-winning homers - all in two nightmare nights." Here's the boxscore for Game 6. Where was the game-winning homer? Does he mean the single by Soriano? Off Lopez? Three innings after Kim left the game? But, apart from showcasing Reaves' incompetence as a writer, it does exemplify the rush to blame Kim for everything bad that ever happened to the franchise. Richie Sexson's shoulder! Jason Grimsley dealing steroids! Russ Ortiz...well, just Russ Ortiz! They're all Kim's fault!

Obviously, I'm not exonerating Kim completely, but he wasn't helped by a first-inning error, and Dana DeMuth's strike zone. While consistent (which is crucial), this was roughly the size of a postage-stamp. In 8 1/2 innings, the teams combined for fourteen walks. That left pitchers with no option but to throw the ball right down the middle. Kim's opposite number, Maholm, allowed seven hits and four walks in five innings, hardly stellar numbers. This was the longest nine-inning game we've played since June 28th, which also lasted 3:29. And who was at home plate that night? Dana DeMuth! Only 11 walks that night though...

Moving on from Kim, it was good to see the team come back, not once but twice. They scored four times in the first inning, and after the Pirates had gone ahead again, 5-4, tied the game up on a bases-loaded walk by Snyder. That was the turning point: Reynolds had struck out with the bases loaded and one out immediately before. I note the Pirates intentionally walked Justin Upton to get to Reynolds. Here's a stat for you I dug up: he's the first teenager to be intentionally-walked since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. Fear the Upton!

Snyder had a great day: two hits, four RBI, his 10th homer, and threw out a base-stealer as well. Our aggressive base-running was also apparent, with a pair of double-steals: those four were the most in a game by the team in over two years. [The franchise record is seven, on May 19th, 2000] Meanwhile, the Pirates went 0-for-2 in that department: one was the only out Kim got in the third, while the other was crucial, as it came with Pittzburgh up by one, and men on the corners with only one out in the fifth.

Mark Reynolds had two hits, though also two K's, and have to say, his approach at the plate wasn't pretty. O-Dawg got three hits too - indeed, the worst line was actually Justin Upton's 0-for-4 with two K's. After coming within a single of the cycle the previous day, that was kinda disappointing. Time to send him back to the minors, I think. :-) But he did fly out to center-field a couple of times, getting good wood both times. Stephen Drew went 0-for-0 with two walks, coming in as part of a double-switch in the fifth.

6.2 innings of one-run ball from the bullpen, though it was a line only it's mother could love: the three hits were fine, but six walks? Ick. Things got bad enough, with the tying run at the plate in the eighth, for Papa Grande to be summoned from from the bullpen for a rare one-plus inning save. He retired all the (four) hitters he faced, which is more than can be said for anyone else last night.

Game Notes

  • We ended up paying $27 in total, for two $21 tickets, sitting right on top of the Pirates 'pen. It was fun, if kinda nerve-wracking to negotiate with all the scalpers [curiously, almost entirely from the African-American community...], but we had the whip hand. Weekday game? Pirates? Five minutes to first pitch? And you want...face value? See ya!

  • Mind you, our first attempt didn't go so well. We got the tickets, and were joking about them being forged. But we get the gate, scan them, and a light goes off: "See Attendant". We've been scamme... Oops - those tickets are for Thursday's game: neither us, nor the "ticket broker" had noticed. Luckily, he was still there, but didn't have any replacements for today, so we got a refund!

  • The roof was open in August, for the first time in franchise history - we were certainly surprised, albeit pleasantly. It was a bold move, but it didn't feel too bad, at least where we were, down at field-level. Can't vouch for what it might have been like in the upper-decks, however.

  • I do like sitting so close to the bullpen. It's the closest I've been to the pitcher, and it was very impressive hearing the snap of the ball popping into the catcher's mitt as they warmed up. Mrs. SnakePit pointed out that it really brought home the skills needed by hitters. We will also be a lot more sympathetic the next HBP, having seen what 90 mph looks like, close-up.

  • What is this: the nineteenth century? You'd think a venue named after a bank would be plastic-friendly, but I had quite a trek to find a concession stand where I could pay by credit-card. Mrs. SnakePit wanted ice-cream, but Coldstone was cash only, and even McD's only took debit-cards. Finally found some generic confectionery, though have to say, it's kinda off-putting when the vendor's count of teeth stops at three. Not really an incentive to buy sugary goodies.

  • We're trying to get people to go "Drooooooooooooooooo" when Stephen comes to the plate, in the same way other teams' fans do with their similar-sounding players. We were plouging a lonely furrow there last night, with people giving us some strange looks. Still, Rome wasn't built in a day.

  • I'm pleased to report that the Univision Wave promotion, as loathed intensely last time, appears to have died an unlamented death. Some jackass by the pool section did try to start one on his own, but got nowhere at all with that. Sometimes, fan apathy is a blessing in disguise!

  • Looks like I'm going to be a grand-dad, as the SnakePitette is expecting. We believe it's a boy - the ultrasound was a bit blurry - so I'm thinking of names. Brandon? Justin? Byung-Hung? Ok, scratch the last. :-) However, we did visit the team shop and bought the child to be named later his first Diamondbacks attire. We fully intend for the child to be brought up the right way...

Despite my absence (and DbackSkins largely missing, probably icing his carpal tunnel), we still reached three figures in the Gameday Thread. Turumbar (welcome!) got it started, with andrewinnewyork, hotclaws, DiamondbacksWIn, singaporedbacksfan, VIII, oklahomasooners, seton hall snake pit, DbacksSkins, icecoldmo, 4CornersFan, Muu, soco, Ben and AZDarkKnight were in attendance. Thanks to all for their contributions.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Orlando Hudson, +28.5%
God-emperor of suck: Byung-Hung Kim, -41.0%
Honorary quite-goodness: Chris Snyder, +27.8%

Update [2007-8-9 17:31:29 by Jim McLennan]: One final point I forgot to mention. They're already selling Justin Upton jerseys in the team-shop, even though his number of major-league games is still in single-digits... That's something I don't think even Mark Reynolds got!