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Diamondbacks 1, Giants 2 - Justin Competent

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Record: 82-64. Change on last season: +13. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 87.0%. Playoff Magic Number: 12

Quote of the day: "I tried to cut it off, and the ball skipped. It skipped like the ground was wet." -- Justin Upton

I feel sure that, over the course of a long, successful career with Arizona, Justin Upton will have many memorable apppearances. There shall be clutch hits, game-saving plays in the outfield, walk-off homers and...is that a ring I see? Okay, that's getting ahead of myself. However: he's going to have a lot of good games.

Tuesday night, however, was definitely not one of them.

Per Fangraphs.com, in four at-bats, he managed to reduce our chances of winning by an amazing 37.1%. That's the worst I've seen by a D-backs hitter this season [pitchers are different; they involved in more at-bats, getting debit or credit for every hitter they face.] In fact, the only worse performance that comes to mind is Torrealba for the Rockies against us on August 31. He came up three times with the bases loaded, twice with the game tied, once with AZ one up, and made three outs, including a double-play. That was only slightly worse than Upton, at 43.5%.

He started brightly enough, singling in the second and getting his first stolen base. However, it was all downhill from there, in a Grand Canyon-esque kinda way. He struck out in the fourth, and then came three real killers. Bases-loaded, one out in the sixth, tied game: Upton grounds into a double-play. Bottom eighth, still tied: Upton badly misplays a leadoff hit by Ortmeier, and instead of a single, the hitter's on third and scores on a sac.fly. Top ninth: Upton grounds into another double-play. This one ends the game. Giants win. Giants win.

So, today's question would be, who do we want as our everyday right-fielder down the stretch and (touch wood) beyond? Jeff Salazar, Justin Upton or Carlos Quentin? I'm really not convinced Upton is ready for it yet: he has shown questionably defensive skills, and he's only hitting .240, so is hardly making up for it with his bat. He only just turned twenty, and skipped polishing in Triple-A, so rookie mistakes are inevitable. I'm just not sure they should be getting made in October. Discuss.

Still, despite the loss, there were a number of good things to be taken from the game. Even though the Padres won, It didn't actually affect our post-season chances much, only by about 2%. That's because the top wild-card teams lost, so our odds there increased almost as much as our division odds decreased. On a more macroscopic level, however, Edgar Gonzalez passed his audition as #5 starter with flying colors, allowing one run in six innings, and so gets another start on Sunday. That start would have gone to Micah Owings, but he's been pushed back to the Giants series.

Eric Byrnes got three hits, and Chris Young his his 30th HR of the season, putting him in some elite company. Here are the players who smacked 30 round-trippers aged 23 or younger over the past decade: Nomar, Vlad, A-Rod, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Troy Glaus, Eric Chavez, Pujols, Aramis Ramirez, Hank Blalock, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Restrict the list to center-fielders and results become even more impressive. Young is only the ninth CF in baseball history to hit 30 homers aged 23 or younger:

  • Andruw Jones (36 HR at age 23, 2000 + 31/21, 1998)
  • Ken Griffey (45/23, 1993)
  • Juan Gonzalez (43/22, 1992)
  • Willie Montanez (30/23, 1971)
  • Mickie Mantle (37/23, 1955)
  • Willie Mays (41/23, 1954)
  • Duke Snider (31/23, 1950)
  • Joe DiMaggio (32/23, 1938 + 46/22, 1937)

Griffey. Mantle. Mays. DiMaggio. You've joined quite some class there, Chris. Oh, and of them, only Jones, in 1998, stole as many bases as Young has done this year. Sure, the game is somewhat different now than it was in the 1950's - when Snider hit his 30, he was one of only eleven players in the majors to do so, compared to last year, where thirty-four reached that mark. But it's still a remarkable feat.

Solid Gameday Thread, despite the absence of a couple of regular players. We promoted some commentators from Double-A, and they seemed to fit in quite well. :-) Thanks to Red Army (welcome!), 4CornersFan, VIII, DbacksSkins, carahan, Adam (welcome!), hotclaws, suitsmetoATnT, unnamedDBacksfan, singaporedbacksfan, soco, seton hall snake pit, TwinnerA, peeklay, Grant and snakecharmer. And with that, to work...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: J. Competent, -37.9%
God-emperor of suck: Edgar Gonzalez, +23.3%
Honorary "Well done!": Eric Byrnes, +12.7%