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AZ 3, Rockies 7 - The Running of the Bullpen

Record: 75-61. Change on last season: +11. Pace: 89-73
Playoff odds: 47.3%. Playoff Magic Number: 28

Quote of the day: "I thought I had a bead on it. It was sinking as I was running in. It's not an easy play, but I feel like I should get there. I've gotten there other times this year. I just didn't make the play." -- Chris Young

The surprise here is not that we lost the game, rather more that we managed not to do so well before the tenth inning. At the end of nine, the game was tied at three, but the Rockies had five times as many hits as Arizona, 15-3: Yorvit Torrealba finished the day having left nine men on base. Livan Hernandez pitched utterly heroically on short rest, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing nine hits but no earned runs - only the third starter this year to do that. He escaped a based-loaded one-out jam in the second, and a bases-loded no-out jam in the sixth. We took the lead on a three-run homer by Miguel Montero in the bottom of the seventh, and Livan looked on course for a well-deserved win.

That was before our relief corps got into the action. Not quite sure I agree with Jose Valverde, who says, "That's baseball. On television they say the bullpen is struggling. Check the bullpens of other teams. They're struggling, too. What are you going to do?" Well, as Oscar Wilde famously said (or would have, had he worked for ESPN), "To allow seven runs in the last three innings of a game may be regarded as a misfortune. To allow seven runs in the last three innings of two consecutive games looks like carelessness."

War took care of most of the lead in the eighth, allowing three hits and a walk, while led to two earned runs. And Death proved little better in the ninth, also allowing three hits and a walk; the tying run scored, and he escaped with the bases loaded, getting Torrealba out for the third time in that situation. However, he was helped significantly by Young's gaffe in center: I can understand him not catching the ball, perhaps, but he failed to stop it from getting past him, and the runner came all the way from first to home. Bad, bad, bad.

Things, however, went from bad to very much worse in the tenth, as Pestilence and Sinister combined to allow four runs. Somehow, none of them ended up earned, which is a traveshamockery because they both sucked farts out of dead dogs, and it was Pena's throwing error that led to the four runs being unearned. I didn't even bother watching the last three outs after that, because even if we had, somehow, miraculously scored five runs, this was a hideous, shoddy performance. The last three innings were certainly the worst I've seen this season, and probably among the worst-played in franchise history.

August ends, exactly with the 16-12 record predicted, and so the new poll on the right, is to decide the player of the month. The early returns are a little less one-sided than I thought they might be. Interesting to look at the overall stats for hitting and pitching. There are some good candidates for anti-Player of the Month, too. Tony Clark with his .556 OPS, forty-four points lower than Hernandez 2.0? Stephen Drew, owning a .202 average? Tony Pena's 7.30 ERA, with opponents batting .320? Yusmeiro Petit's three starts and 11.25 ERA? Though, overall, it wasn't a bad month at all - and even with the bullpen concerns, they only got tagged with three of the twelve losses this month. It is a disturbing trend, going forward, however.

I'll keep this short, since we have some serious slothing scheduled for this afternoon, followed by vegetating, and then slumping from 6-9pm. I have absolutely no interest in watching the game tonight: we originally had tickets for the game, but since we're not here, I gave them to a team lead at work. Bribery is good. And, hey, guess who didn't get scheduled to work on Labor Day. :-) But I'm going to take this evening off from fandom: six or eight Pilsener Urquells should prove sufficient to get rid of last night's taste from my mouth...

Good Gameday Thread though. LucaMaz3, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, icecoldmo, hotclaws, Muu, Rockies Phan, Peachy, batster, TwinnerA, unnamedDBacksfan, 4CornersFan, VIII, soco, azdb7 and johngordonma. Someone was asking about Livan's most imperfect shutout. This is pretty close, tied with a game on May 22, 1998 where he also allowed nine hits and no earned runs. However, that was over nine innings rather than the seven from last night, where he also tossed in a base on balls, so is probably more impressive.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Livan Hernandez, +45.3%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Pena, -42.4%
Honorary "Well done!": Miguel Montero, +25.4%