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Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 7 - BoMel Blows One

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Record: 83-65. Change on last season: +12. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 87.4%. Playoff Magic Number: 11

Quote of the day: "Get him out of there. I've seen this before. He won't get out of the jam this time. He's lost it. When he misses up that badly, he gone." -- Shoewizard, as DD loaded the bases in the fifth.

After a long period where managerial cock-ups were notable by their absense, there can be no question that Melvin cost us this one. Mark Reynolds had just given us a 4-2 lead with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth, but Doug Davis, for the third time in the game, blew the lead. Put simply, he should never have been left out there. He dodge(re)d one bullet, getting a bases-loaded double-play which let a run score, but a) we still had the lead, b) there were now two outs, and c) the bases were empty. He should have been thanked for his services and sent to the shower; as Shoe's quote above shows, this is not post-facto second-guessing.

Instead, Melvin did his frequent trick, leaving his starter out there to try and last five innings, and get him the decision. Well, I guess Melvin did get Davis the decision: a big, fat "L". But, really: this is about the team, not padding individual win total. If not after the double-play, then after the Nomar homer which tied the game. Or after Martin reached on Drew's error. Or after Kemp's triple gave the Dodgers the lead. But instead, Melvin waited even longer, until Ethier had singled Kemp home, and the 4-2 lead had become a 6-4 deficit, before finally pulling Davis. After the double-play, the Dodgers had only a 36.0% win probability: by the time Melvin went to the mount, it was all the way up to 79.2%. Guess who I'm hanging that on?

Can't blame Melvin entirely, however. Davis can thank Conor Jackson for escaping another bases-loaded, no outs jam in the fourth: CoJack saved a couple of runs with his grab of an Ethier lineout. Davis then fanned Brad Penny - albeit not without running the count full on the opposing pitcher - and got Furcal to ground out on the first pitch. That escape was worth 16.6% on the Fangraphs scale. However, that was mere repayment for the first inning, where we had a chance to kick the door in, after our first three hitters reached safely, on a pure speed double from Bonifacio, a single, and a HBP.

According to Baseball Prospectus, in that situation, teams this year have scored 2.37 runs, on average. The Diamondbacks managed only one - and that, on a based-loaded walk to Reynolds. Around that, Jackson popped up weakly; Young looked at a fastball for strike three down the middle [because, after all, Brad Penny is such a master of the breaking ball...], and Drew went down swinging. Par for the course, really: we bat .236 with the bases loaded, and have a .635 OPS, with one home-run in 106 at-bats. The Dodgers came back immediately in the bottom of the first...as they did in the bottom of the fourth after we took the lead again on a Drew sac.fly...and the bottom of the fifth, as already noted. Davis wanted no part of a lead last night.

Other minor stuff. Bonifacio got two hits, though was somewhat lucky to do so - he was credited with a hit when Snyder was struck by a batter ball, going between second and third. That's bizarre, but the official rules say it explicitly, in Section 10.05: "The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when...a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder touches a runner or an umpire, unless a runner is called out for having been touched by an Infield Fly, in which case the official scorer shall not score a hit." Curiously, later in the same rule, I saw that you don't get a hit if a runner ahead of you fails to touch a base and is called out on appeal, which seems harsh on the hitter. The rules giveth, and the rules taketh away...

Elsewhere in the box-score, we see Mark Reynolds with three RBI, and a decent performance from the back-end of our bullpen. They allowed one run on two hits - those all coming during Nippert's inning of work. The rarely-seen Bill 'The Cat' Murphy did get his first major-league strikeout, however: and it was Luis Gonzalez, who was pinch-hitting. These days, Gonzo is hardly the full-time left fielder, with only ten starts in the past twenty games for the Dodgers. So much for thinking you can still play everyday, eh, Luis? This season, you're going to end up with fewer games than any year since 1995, bar the injury-curtailed 2004.

Fun Gameday Thread. snakecharmer, hotclaws, cj060896, DbacksSkins, Diamondhacks, dahlian, webby17, unnamedDBacksfan, TwinnerA, seton hall snake pit, TheMainMan, Stile4aly (welcome!), oklahomasooners, shoewizard (I must cripple the DBBP database more often...), soco, DodgerBlueBalls, singaporedbacksfan, frienetic, Muu and VIII. Thanks in particular to DBB for being generally well-behaved - not least in contrast to the last 'honored ambassador' to make an appearance at the SnakePit. I checked out Blue Notes Blog as recommended: can only concur with the description that "Nothing about the evening was pretty, from the performance of Brad Penny to the glacial pace of play (3:32) to the disappointingly flavorless frosting on Tommy Lasorda's celebratory birthday cake, the remnants of which ended up in the press box." Hey, at least you got cake...

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Mark Reynolds, +28.1%
God-emperor of suck: Bob Melvin, -43.2%
Honorary suckage: Dog Davis, -50.8% [the missing "u" was originally a typo, but on the basis of last night's performance, I'm leaving it out]

Not a good day for our chances. The Padres game back from 4-2 down in the ninth to beat the Giants, and the Phillies edged the Mets. The Rockies lost though, and as they're now 6.5 back of us, with only fifteen game to play, I don't regard them as a threat any longer. Three out of these five teams will make the playoffs: Mets, Phillies, D-backs, Padres and Dodgers. The Mets are all but certain. We have a 4.5 game lead over the Dodgers and Phillies, which are who matter most. If we play .500 the rest of the way, that's 90 wins, and they'd need to play 12-3 to reach that. However...we still have five games left against LA. If we, say, drop four of those, and go 4-5 in the remaining nine, it's 88 wins - LA would only have to 6-4 in their remaining contests to tie that. We're still in the catbird seat, but it is definitely not over yet.

Time for a new poll: the age one proved very popular, and it looks like the median (half above, half below) age of readers is around 25 or 26, with the majority (55%) between nineteen and thirty. Which makes me feel I should join my father in getting a bionic hip [the good news is, he can now reach 60 mph: the bad news is, this being the National Health Service, he got just the one, so can only run in a very tight circle]. I've been thinking about this one for a while, and it seems an appropriate point to bring it up, after last night's performance. What impact does Melvin have on the team? He's in the front-running for Manager of the Year, but do you really think the over-achieving performance is about him? Or is that taking credit away that belongs to the players? Discuss...

Don't forget, afternoon game today - first pitch in less than 90 minutes. Gameday Thread, and hopefully, some deck-clearing, to follow between now and then.