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Diamondbacks 5, Giants 3 - Jeff the Giant Killer

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Record: 82-63. Change on last season: +14. Pace: 92-70
Playoff odds: 89.7%. Playoff Magic Number: 13

Quote of the day: " Eighty or ninety percent of me is not as good as 100 percent of Justin Upton or Carlos Quentin. I couldn't be selfish. But when I took batting practice, I felt fine hitting." -- Jeff Salazar

Kirk Gibson would be proud. Hobbling off the bench, Jeff Salazar smacked a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth, and limped his way around the bases. That extended Arizona's winning streak to six games - now four in a row, coming from behind - and guarantees us our first winning season since 2003. It was only Salazar's second ever four-bagger: curiously, the other one also came against the Giants, in September, and as a pinch-hitter, back when he was with the Rockies.

It was an improbable win, and an ironic mirror-image of the situation on the other side of town. In the NFL stadium, Arizona had the lead against San Franciso until almost the last possible moment, before coughing up a big, fat hairball. Basically, business as usual for both franchises: the D-backs find another way to win, the Cardinals snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once more. But who is that got the headline spot in the Republic this morning? A clue: not the team which is leading their division.

Justifiable bitterness aside, this is probably the best game I've never seen a single pitch of. I was working on...something I can't talk about (my 'Project Cloverfield', if you like!), and so was unable to see a pitch or even listen to the game. But for about 8 2/3 innings, it looked like the streak was going to end. Sure, we'd come back from three down, and were within one run, but I didn't bother going through to watch the game, even after the tying run, in the shape of Drew, reached second to lead off the ninth. I was content: hey, a five-game streak, that ain't bad.

That we needed to come back, was largely thanks to Benji Molina, who took revenge for the foul tips we whacked off his brother's helmet on Friday, by doing some whacking of his own. Two more homers off Hernandez 2.0, but as usual, they were solo shots. 31 home-runs this year, but only eleven came with men on base, and only three with more than one man aboard. Quality start for Livan: six innings, three runs, though as ever, with eight hits, three walks and the help of three double-plays. Business as usual there, too.

We didn't get on the board until the fifth, not helped by some gaffes on the base-paths. And by the time we did, the Giants had reached an 85.8% win probability, following Molina's second homer. Emilio Bonifacio, in his first career start, got his first career hit and his first career RBI, with a two-out single, which scored Upton from second. He repeated the medicine in the seventh, only with Montero on second, and also made a brilliant play to rob Roberts of a hit in the ninth. That was crucial, as any base-runner would have brought Bonds to the plate as the tying run in the ninth. Best avoid that, I think. Don't be surprised if Bonifacio gets more starts, probably in place of Callaspo. He just looks hungrier and happier to be there than certain back-up infielders I could mention.

Credit to the bullpen too, who did what they've been doing all streak long: keeping the team in games, and giving them the chance to fight back. Famine fanned the site in the seventh, Slaten and Peguero wobbled but posted a zero in the eighth, and Pestileñce brought the hammer in the ninth, retiring the side in order for his third career save. Whatever was ailing him in August has clearly been fixed, because here's his line in September:
Peña: 6.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 ER, .045 OBA
Yes, you read that right: twenty-two at-bats this month, one hit, a single.

Second-largest Gameday Thread ever, passing the 350 for the Padres on 8/27 and trailing only the 428 for the same opponents on August 30th. After Sunday's turnout, I'm relieved everyone hasn't abandoned me. We might have made 400 if carahan hadn't lost his way to the thread. :-) Welcome, none the less. Also present were: snakecharmer, suitsmetoATnT, mikeb (welcome!), LucaMaz3, DbacksSkins, hotclaws, seton hall snake pit, singaporedbacksfan, Diamondhacks, johngordonma, VIII, soco, DBACKS KICK ARSE, Peachy, peeklay, TwinnerA and FormerGiantFan. See? We got the win for you!

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Jeff the Giant Killer, +74.1%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Clark, -13.5%
Honorary "Well done!": Stephen Drew, +17.0%