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Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 6 - The Gonzo Strikes Back

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Record: 83-66. Change on last season: +12. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 79.5%. Playoff Magic Number: 11

Quote of the day: "You know what? It's nice doing it against them, but it'll mean a lot more to me to get into the postseason.Once the first time we played those guys, the newness kind of wore off a little bit. I'm still friends with those guys, but now it's a matter of going out there and trying to beat them." -- Luis Gonzalez

This game was, to all intents and purposes, over by the time the first Dodger hitter was retired. When Russell Martin made that first out, Los Angeles already had an 87.4% chance of victory: the preceding five batters had already reached, and four of them had come round to score. You just can not spot a team like the Dodgers a four-run lead, and expect to get away with it. Making the result even more painful, was the fact that a former AZ favorite, Luis Gonzalez, homered to drive in three of the runs - when his usual weak grounder to the infield would have let Hernandez 2.0 escape with only one run scored. It was just his 6th homer of the year with anyone aboard.

As a result, Gonzo gets to gloat about how he's not gloating, and how it's all about the Dodgers making the post-season. I'm conflicted on this. God knows, I don't want the Padres to reach the playoffs; but do I really want Luis Gonzalez there instead? I think I may be forced to cheer for the Phillies, simply because they are the least irritating team left in the wild-card race. No whiny fans; no annoyingly petulant former D-backs; don't really know very much about them, but that means I haven't got anything against them. However, more important than who else gets into the playoffs, is that Arizona does.

And, despite the recent losses, we still remain overwhelming favorites to do so, as the stats above suggest. We are less than 48 hours removed from a streak where won seven games of eight so, folks, at the moment, we simply need to hold firm. We don't need to play how we have this season or after the All-Star break. We probably don't even need to play how we have in September - an 8-5 record. we only need to play as well as we did in our worst month of this season (July, when we were exactly at .500), and we should be fine. This is not the time to panic. This is the time to stay resolute.

Mind you, if we lose again today, and the Padres and Pirates both win, it will certainly begin to get a bit interesting. Still, even in the worst-case scenario, we would have a one-game lead in the NL West (and don't forget, we own the tiebreaker over the Padres) and a 2.5 game lead over the Phillies and Padres. Best-case, we're three ahead of San Diego, 4.5 up in the wild-card, and we move on, wondering what all the fuss was about. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it, however: I'll discuss that in the Gameday Thread, which will be up imminently [Though here is a good time to mention that DbacksSkins has now joined snakecharmer as those authorized to start GameDay Threads in my absence. I will attempt to let at least one of know if that's going to be the case though!]

Back yesterday, Livan Hernandez pitched very well...once he'd got that tricky first out. From that point on, here is his line:
Hernandez: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 R, 1 ER
Just a shame he also gets tagged with the four-spot he served to begin with. And there was I, thinking pitchers were supposed to warm up in the bullpen, not on the mound after the umpire says, "Play ball!" Matters weren't helped by Rafael Furcal running amok on the basepaths, becoming the first player to steal four bases in a game against us, since Reggie Sanders did it for the Padres, back on April 25, 1999.

Things were also not helped by Arizona struggling fiercely against Derek Lowe, who restricted us to four hits and a walk during seven innings of work. We didn't get our first runner into scoring position until there were two outs in the fifth inning, when Montero doubled, and the only other one we got off Lowe was Clark's home-run. Six hits and a walk was the final total, with the top third of the order going 1-for-11 with no walks. Eric Byrnes went 0-for-4, but received good marks for artistic impression in his post-out petulance, slamming his helmet to the ground and hurling batting gloves away. Showing emotion is one thing: acting like a five-year old denied candy, quite another.

Nor were they helped by some defensive gaffes. Bob Wickman managed to field his position exactly like his nickname, the Wicker Man, and the resulting error led to an unearned run. However, Chris Young also forgot to close his glove on a ball, and looked very surprised when it dropped out - the concept we call "gravity" apparently not having been explained to him sufficiently. Somehow, he did not get charged with an error there: I presume the official scorer decided the laughing and pointing of the home fans was sufficient punishment.

Understandably, that early Dodgers' surge took care of much of the enthusiasm for the Gameday Thread, so kudos to those who contributed, in the face of adversity. DbacksSkins, DodgerBlueBalls, unnamedDBacksfan, TwinnerA, azdb7, hotclaws, 4CornersFan, snakecharmer and soco. All told, a pretty miserable game, which was badly pitched, badly batted (we saw just 108 pitches in nine innings, and only 66 strikes) and badly fielded. Hey, as I always say, it's best to get all your incompetence out at once, rather than stretching it out over a series. Let's hope that proves true.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Alberto Callaspo, +7.4%
God-emperor of suck: Livan Hernandez, -23.8%
Honorary suckage: Eric 'Tantrum' Byrnes, -10.4%

As noted by snakecharmer, the D-backs now have an official song. I haven't heard it yet, but if you have 99 cents to spare, you can buy it for download at the Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers' official site, azpeacemakers.com. Since Mrs. SnakePit is calling me for breakfast buns, I'll finish here, and end with a snippet of the lyrics:

Summer!
And the gang's all here
We've got green grass, red hots and ice-cold beer
We're baseballs' faithful Diamondback Fans
Backin' our home team
Back in the stands

Let's go ...
Three up, three down
Get the D-backs' swingin' and take it downtown
where it's ...

Going, going, going, gone!
It's outta here, boys, now bring it on home
It's a fact, Jack,
I back, you back, we back the D-backs!