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Diamondbacks 5, Pirates 6 - I Balk: the Lyon

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Record: 88-69. Change on last season: +14. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 92.2%. Playoff Magic Number: 3

Quote of the day: "We're just trying to win every day. We're not too worried about that. We just want to be playing good and keep it rolling throughout this week instead of worrying so much about the other stuff that's going on." -- Brandon Lyon

So close...and yet, so far. This was always the game in the series I was most concerned about; to come back from a 5-1 deficit to tie things up...and then lose it on a crappy balk call. [Okay, it probably was a balk, but that's probably the worst way to advance a runner.] Aargh. Still, magic number drops by one, thanks to the Phillies loss, though the Padres get some magic with a two-out homer from Giles, and the Rockies won their ninth straight.

It wasn't a very promising start, with Doug Davis allowing a homer to the first hitter, and then put runners on the corners without retiring a batter. A double-play allowed a second run to score: but that was it, and Davis faced one over the minimum through the end of the fifth. He was pulled in the sixth for a pinch-hitter, though given Cirillo struckout looking, the results there weren't any better than Davis could have provided. Five hits and two walks in those five innings, which is his best appearance in three weeks.

We should likely have won this: we certainly had our opportunities. We left eight men on base through the front six, and that doesn't count the ones erased by Chris Snyder. He single-handedly killed two rallies, by grounding into two double-plays, after we got our leadoff hitter aboard - or, in the sixth, the first two on. In a one-run game, as it was at that point, this kind of extravagant waste tends to come back to haunt the offenders.

The bullpen, and in particular, Tony Peña, had a very poor outing, letting the Pirates stretch their lead to four in the seventh. After retiring the first batter on one pitch, Pestileñce walked the next one on four, then gave another free pass to the following hitter. A double brought one run home, and chased Peña, but Bill Murply allowed both inherited runners to score. This one looked out of reach, as we entered the eighth four runs down.

However, readers may remember the May 19th game against the Pirates. There, we came back from 7-1 down, and five behind in the seventh, to win. So, it was perhaps no surprise when we scored four in the eighth to tie it. Snyder had an RBI double; Jackson a two-run single off the bench; and Drew tied it up with a broken-bat blow to left. Momentum climbed out of the Pirates dugout, and muttered something about another appointment.

Momentum is, however, vastly over-rated. Lyon gave up a one-out double, and with two outs, balked the runner to third - not great timing for only his third career balk since his debut in 2001. A single to left then allowed that man to trot home, scoring the winning run. With only three outs left, we didn't have enough left for another comeback, going down in order against the Pirates closer (the quite good Matt Capps, who has a 2.34 ERA). That victory broke the Pirates nine-game losing streak.

We actually out-hit the Pirates, 13-10, and got more walks, 5-3, than them as well (Augie Ojeda alone managed three). Every starter bar Davis had a hit, with Drew, Clark and Salazar getting two each. We didn't even hit particularly badly with runners in scoring position, going 4-for-12. That does give me something to be optimistic about for the rest of the series, as Snell is probably the best pitcher we're going to see in Pittsburgh. That's a comfort, though not enough to overcome the nervousness caused by glancing in the rear-view mirror and see a collection of monks, boulders and cheesesteak sandwiches looming right behind us.

Thanks to the Gameday Thread contributors: Diamondhacks, snakecharmer, Englishdback, Ben, Zephon, hotclaws, cj060896, Devin, LucaMaz3, Pigpen Fan, singaporedbacksfan, TwinnerA, Adam, DbacksSkins, johngordonma, unnamedDBacksfan. No denying, it's a disappointing result, but we're still well above 90% in our playoff chances: even though, I know, it really doesn't feel that way!

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Conor Jackson, +20.9%
God-emperor of suck: Brandon Lyon, -22.2%
Honorary suckette: Eric Byrnes, -22.0%