Quote of the day: "That was great. I haven't felt anything like that since back in the days of '01 and '02. That really had quite the feel. Yesterday, pretty close, then today, all of a sudden, I kind of had that feeling like, 'Wow, I've been here before. I've felt this before.'" -- Bob Melvin
Another win, another step closer to the finish line. We took the lead on the first pitch of the game, a fastball which Chris Young mercilessly dispatched 468 feet into the upper-deck, and never really looked back from there. Chris Snyder drove in a second run later that inning, Brandon Webb had an RBI single in the second, and Mark Reynolds added his 17th homer in the third. A Jackson sacrifice fly and Salazar groundout completed the production for the offense, which is heating up, and reached double digits for the fourth consecutive game. If we manage it today, we'll be getting into rarefied territory - the last time we managed five in a row was back in 2003.
Byrnes had two hits, stole two bases (in the same at-bat!) and scored twice, giving him 102 runs for the year. That's the most since Junior Spivey - remember him? - reached 103 back in 2002, and is currently good enough for seventh on the franchise all-time list. He'll probably be about #5 by the end of the season. Mark Reynolds reached base safely four times, on two hits and two walks, extending his hot streak: he's batting .333 since the start of August - and his K:BB ratio in September is 18:8, a significant improvement on last month's 33:6. Even Stephen Drew had two hits and a walk, though since his September average is barely above the Uecker Line, we'll be hoping this is the start of better things.
Meanwhile, Brandon Webb reached his career high of 17 wins, taking a shutout into the seventh inning. He eventually allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks over 6.1 innings, striking out six. He is scheduled to start one more - possibly Thursday in Pittsburgh, since I imagine Melvin will want to keep him out of Colorado and away from the Rockies. However, that has yet to be decided. Doug Davis will start Tuesday, but it's possible Micah Owings will get into the mix as well, to keep his arm fresh. He'll likely be on standby in the bullpen today, in case EdGon needs help - though that's not been necessary the last couple of starts.
More quality work from the bullpen, who are currently working on a scoreless streak of 11.1 innings, dating back to Pestileñce's meltdown in the first game of the Giants series. In that time, they've allowed only five hits and one walk, while striking out six. If we reach the Promised Land, it's going to be an interesting decision on who makes the playoff roster among the relief corps. There'll be room for an extra arm, since we'd only need four starters: however, it's likely the fifth one will drop into the pen for emergency use. I expect Melvin would have a quick hook, especially in the five-game NLDS. We'd probably revert to the Four Horsemen plus Nippert, Slaten and...one other. Petit? Medders? Murphy?
Good defense, in the main, from the boys too. Particularly impressive were Byrnes snare of a smash by Lieberthal, and Ojeda putting enough mustard on the ball as he leaped and turned in the air, to get Wells. Okay, throwing out David Wells is in the same category as throwing out the Statue of Liberty. We're not talking Jose Reyes, let's be honest. Stephen Drew made an error with two out in the ninth, but infield partner Mark Reynolds climbed the ladder on the next inning, with a jumping grab to end it. [Though it was not, as Doug Haller claimed in the Republic this morning, Valverde's 47th save, as we had a four-run lead]
Enjoyed the Gameday Thread - my only appearance of this series, since the other two games see me at Chase. Also present there, as we reached 200 comments: DbacksSkins, seton hall snake pit, hotclaws, batster, TwinnerA, VIII, leemellon, LucaMaz3, johngordonma, singaporedbacksfan, Devin, soco and, last but not least, snakecharmer. Four wins in a row - admittedly, against the Giants and Dodgers, but having outscored the opposition 29-9, there's been little doubt who has been the better team. The average crowd over the last five games has been over 40,700, and in 36 since the break, it's been more than 31,200. To put that figure into context, the team only had more than that eleven times in 81 home games last season. The Sedona Red tide is rising...
That may be the lowest total for the Master in a game we've won: this was, it appears, truly a team performance. With the Padres dropping another game to the surging Rockies, who've won seven in a row, and the Phillies winning, the NL wild-card race is basically a dead-head, with San Diego one-half a game up, having played a game less than Philadelphia. If the Phillies overtake San Diego, they will probably be our first-round opponents - if they don't, it looks like we will be facing the Cubs, who now have a 2.5 game lead in their division, the same as we do. We own the season series against both, having lost only once to Philadelphia, and taken four of six from Chicago. However, they are the two best teams in the league over the past ten games, and of course, no playoff qualifier is to be taken lightly.
Interesting piece in the Tribune, where Jack Magruder contrasts the Dodgers and D-backs clubhouse, both of which contain a mix of veterans and rookies. It seems to be the specific vets that make a difference, Jeff Salazar saying, "You can talk to them about anything. It doesn't even have to be about baseball. They're smart guys, and their personalities make it fun to be in here. It's not a stressful environment where the rookies are concerned about sitting in the wrong seat or getting on a plane before somebody else -- little stuff like that can separate teams." I can certainly see why O-Dawg, Byrnes and Clark would be more fun for young guys to be around than Kent and Gonzo - Luis having been so gracious when Quentin came up.
Okay. SnakePitFest '07 ahoy. One minor change though: looks like we will probably try and snag a table inside Jackson's, since it looks likely to be too damn hot for us to be outside comfortably. Look for two jerseys, one white #17, one red #61, and you'll have found us. Though if everything goes to plan with part one of Project Cloverfield, you shouldn't have any problems. :-)