Quote of the day: "As far as I’m concerned, all the stat geeks really don’t come into play in this situation... The last I checked, wins and losses determine who goes to the playoffs. I’m on a team that is in first place." -- Eric Byrnes
Though actually, I think the best quote to sum up...well, pretty much the entire 2007 season, comes from Charles Dickens, in his opening paragraph for A Tale of Two Cities:
Anybody, anytime, #154: Chris Young, HR #31. Collect the set!
Five days ago, Pestileñce had handed us a loss in the opener of the Giants series, and tombstones were being carved for the season. The Diamondbacks had lost three of four and seen their lead over the Padres shrink from 3.5 games to one. But what happens? We win three straight, outscoring the opposition by a margin of 23-7, and our playoff odds are almost the best they've been all year.
It didn't look like it early on, and the Diamondbacks had to come from behind, not once, but twice, as through three, Livan allowed seven hits and a walk, hit a batter and gave up runs in each inning. However, Tony Clark got a second chance after the Dodgers infield muffed a pop-foul (we were all over Nomar after that one), and took full advantage, depositing his 16th homer of the year into the bleachers. This is another area we're going to have to make a decision on if we reach the Promised Land - here are Clark's and Jackson's numbers since the All-Star Break:
Clark: .292/.349/.594, 106 AB, 8 HR, 26 RBI
Jackson: .298/.362/.536, 168 AB, 9 HR, 28 RBI
"And try not to pop-up this time, eh, Eric?"
Hernandez 2.0 finally posted a zero in the fourth, albeit after another two hits. But after pitch-counts of 23, 18, 21 and 22, making 84 through four, we were not surprised to see Juan Cruz warming up in the bullpen. But the dynamic of the entire game rapidly changed in just ten pitches, with two outs in the bottom half of the frame. Wasn't expecting anything with our #8 hitter up, followed by the pitcher, but Augie 'The Littlest Ballplayer' Ojeda tripled, and Livan 'Definitely not the Littlest Ballplayer' Hernandez singled him home. Chris Young swatted his 31st homers, and there we were, 6-3 up.
Livan suddenly remember how to pitch, retiring the Dodgers in order the next two innings, and Arizona tacked on four more runs in the sixth. We sent ten men to the plate, with Robbie Hammock making both the first and last out of the inning, bookending six hits by the D-backs. The last vestiges of the Dodgers' playoff hopes made for the exits, like most of their fans. They weren't around to see Mark Reynolds his his 16th homer of the year in the eighth innings, after Eric Byrnes had become the third hit batter of the game [there was a fourth, by Bill Murphy, in the ninth, and one wonders whether this could escalate, though the final one, at least, was a skippy, ankle-biter plunking rather than obvious retribution.]
Eat LA...Eat LA...
All told, a fine performance. Clark had three hits and drove in four, Reynolds two hits and three RBI, while Salazar and Ojeda both got two hits. The total of thirteen meant we've reached double-digits for three games in a row, tying a season high. In that time, we've hit .360, with an OPS of 1.045, so be interesting to see how that affects the Seitzer split, which I'll get updated tomorrow. Certainly, this team is flat-out scoring more runs: before the break, we were at 4.12/game, but since it, we are up to 4.88. The D-backs have now only been outscored by twelve runs, so with eight to go, might be able to sneak back into positive territory by season's end.
Going by this article, looks like Gonzo will be cheering us on in the postseason. And, let's face it, that's the closest he's going to go to the playoffs. He says, "The disappointment for us is that, on paper, we probably have the best team in the league. When I left, I wanted to win, come back here and get my revenge. It didn't happen. And for me, it's been a tough year. But you have to move on. Those guys over there have played well. I tip my cap to them." Sounds like Gonzo is moving through the Five Stages of Grief, having passed Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression, and is into Acceptance. Reading between the lines though, it seems that Gonzalez misses the Diamondbacks, more than they miss him. What kind of market will there be in the off-season for a 40-year old left-fielder with a noodle arm, whose OPS has dropped four years in a row?
Thanks to to our kind donor for the seats, which were basically the best we've ever had - one row behind the dugout. It's kinda cool to know that whatever you say is being heard by the players, though they are pretty stoic about not showing it. Fortunately, the team's performance meant very little but praise needed to be lavished on the players, though Mrs. Snakepit was making quiet "Tucson bus" sounds early on, during Livan's struggles...
About the only downside was this being a favored stomping ground for D.Baxter. However, I'm wondering if they're getting rid of him: they had a "Baxter's Memories" video sequence on the Jumbotron, which had the feel of a farewell tribute. Much as I hate the cat, I have to say, some of the stuff there was actually funny. Baxter in amusing skit shock. Film at 11.
Close the pod bay doors, HAL...
I think that is probably the first time I've seen them close the roof during a game. It was initially open, but spots of rain fell during the third inning, and the wind was severely kicking up too, sweeping loose papers and debris across the infield. Kinda reminiscent of Game 7 in 2001: an omen, perhaps?
The "Anybody, Anytime" shirts are probably the coolest giveaway we've ever had. There were a whole bunch of different styles with the back each honoring one particular player and game: ours were for Chis Young and Micah Owings. sorry, snakecharmer: we're keeping them! And will be wearing them on Sunday, too.
The power of Styrofoam
Much credit to Sun Valley Supplies, who packed the left-field bleachers with employees in tie-dye Eric Byrnes shirts, holding up styrofoam letters, #22's and other accessories. At first, I thought they were spelling out "Got Distance?" in the pic above, but it turns out to be "Go the Distance."
Speaking of left-fielders, there was a ripple of applause when Gonzo singled in the seventh - though, being honest, that should probably have gone as an error on Clark. It was his 2,500th hit, though there was no announcement or acknowledgement of the fact on the Jumbotron. His reception last night was significantly mixed, with as many boos as cheers.
Definitely engaged in a lot of scoreboard watching. The Phillies put away the Nationals relatively early, but the Padres teased another comeback before going down against the Rockies in 14. There were sporadic shouts of "Let's go, Rockies" to be heard after they went 1-0 up, as well as one poor, lost "Let's go, Boston", which I think was just after Toronto took the lead against the Evil Empire.
Indeed, seemed to be almost as many comments in the Gameday Thread on the Rockies game, as there were about our one! cj060896 got things going, with a wildly inaccurate prediction of the outcome, and was followed by johngordonma, snakecharmer, leemellon, azdb7, Devin, Wimb, hotclaws, batster, VIII, seton hall snake pit, Stile4aly, DodgerBlueBalls (appreciate the pic!) and TwinnerA. Another day, another step closer to the Promised Land, though with the Phillies winning, the magic number there only dropped by one. Still, with Webb taking the mound tonight, I'm optimistic we can take care of things on our end: after the first three innings, the Dodgers looked a very poor outfit, and I want to see their implosion continue.
Almost all hit last night - our pitchers were all very close to zero, with the best Wickman's +0.6%, and the worst Hernandez's -0.2%. Livan does, however, get +8.6% for his times at the plate, which included driving in the go-ahead run.
I'm sure snakecharmer will cover this in her weekend update, but not sure if that's going to be today, so should mention that Chad Tracy had his knee operation. The good news is, it went well - the bad, he might not be ready for Opening Day next year. That's because it involved microfracture surgery, in which they drill holes in the knee bone, deliberately creating blood clots to help heal the damaged cartilage. Amare Stoudemire had that and came back, though it took him a while: at least Tracy doesn't have to dunk. Bob Melvin said it could be up to eight months before he can return - Josh Byrnes was more optimistic because of the surgery's location, estimating around five.
Okay, having spent half the night wrestling with aspects of my Project Cloverfield secret mission, I think I'm taking the afternoon off. Mrs. snakePit is hosting a show at the Paper Heart tonight, so we'll likely be at that, but the laptop will be accompanying us, so I imagine I should be good to go as far as commenting is concerned. Don't forget: SnakePitFest '07 is tomorrow, and we'll be at Jackson's before the game if you want to swing by, even if you haven't got tickets with us.
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