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AZ 1, Pirates 5 - Gut-check Time

Record: 88-70. Change on last season: +13. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 79.4%. Playoff Magic Number: 3

Quote of the day: "This puts some pressure on us. On the flip side, we can't push the panic button. We're still in a good spot. We need to come out and play like we have the last two months. This is uncharacteristic of our ball club. We have four games to bounce back and do some damage. One day at a time." -- Conor Jackson

I'm going to keep this one relatively short, since we have a morning game (AZ time) over in Pittsburgh, and so I need to get the Gameday Thread up for that. In addition, I really don't want to re-hash in detail the wretched offensive performaince of yesterday. There we made Matt Morris look like the pitcher we used to be, and not the past-prime veteran has been in, oh, just about every other start this year.

The 59-minute rain delay certainly didn't seem to help Hernandez 2.0, who was fine before it, but struggled severely after the break, and ended up allowing ten hits and four walk over four-plus innings. He really should not be allowed on the mound in the playoffs, eight-million dollar salary be damned. Not when, in five September starts, he has a 6.67 ERA and opponents are batting .363 off him. Webb, Davis, Owings, Gonzalez: that should be the rotation, simply because they are the best four starters we have at the time. All told, he's given us a 4.93 ERA, which is slightly-below league-average when adjusted for park factors, etc. About average for a starter, since relievers tend to have lower ERAs, but not worth the cash. Still, looks like we'll win our bet with Purple Row: small comfort there.

The offense sputtered, though it wasn't helped by Livan running himself out of the basepaths, thinking there were two outs in the third, when there was only one. That was in the only at-bat we had with a runner in scoring position through the first five innings. The second went slightly better, Jackson doubling Byrnes home, but we were 1-for-6 overall. The closest we got the tying run to the plate was the eighth, but where it was in the on-deck circle with one out. But Byrnes flew out and Jackson grounded out, ending that opportunity. Drew and Ojeda had two hits apiece, but there was only one walk, to Chris Young.

All told, a very disappointing result, and results elsewhere increase the importance of today's contest, to perhaps the first genuine "must-win" game of the season. The Padres, Rockies and Phillies all won, leaving us one up on San Diego, and two up on Colorado and Philadelphia. It's important to remember that we are still in the best position of these four teams, but a victory today will go a long way towards righting the ship. The current three-game losing streak is tied for the longest since the All-Star break, and now is not the time to be setting any records in that department.

An understandably shell-shocked thread yesterday, with enthusiasm understandably out-numbered by petunia-like thoughts of "Oh, no - not again" [Apologies to those who are not familiar with the works of Douglas Adams, to whom the previous sentence will likely not make much sense.] Present were Ben, LucaMaz3, snakecharmer, hotclaws, Adam, Devin, unnamedDBacksfan, oklahomasooners, cj060896, VIII, TwinnerA, DbacksSkins, icecoldmo, peeklay, Stile4aly and Diamondhacks. Deep breath, folks: now is not the time to falter. However, I sense we may end up invoking St. Penelope over the weekend - but I ain't gonna do that while we still lead the division.

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Conor Jackson, +20.9%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, +5.1%
Honorary suckette: Chris Young, -12.3%

And with that, straight on to the Gameday Thread...