Record: 90-70. Change on last season: +14. Pace: 91-71
Playoff odds: 10...oh, what the hell:
Playoff Magic Number: 0, aught, duck egg, goose egg, nada, naught, nil, nix, nothing, nought, nullity, scratch, void, zilch, zip, zot
Quote of the day: "So what began so fitfully in April starts winding to a conclusion with the same two teams on the same field. It's kind of like a samurai movie, where a pair of n00bish acolytes square off at the beginning before taking their long journeys of growth into true warriors, becoming mortal enemies along the way and then meeting one final time for all the glory." -- Rox Girl
I watched Resident Evil: Extinction last night, and while I like Rox's metaphor above, I think there's something about the evolution of Alice through the three films in the series, which perhaps parallels the Diamondbacks' own journey over the last six months. We've gone through the depths of hell and back, fought our way through hordes of enemies, taken truckloads of damage, developed some astonishing new skills...and come through to the end, the ultimate bad-ass: kicking butt, taking names, and ready for the final boss level. I guess the tentacled mutation thing she battles at the end of Extinction would be the Red Sox. Or perhaps the Yankees. I'm still working on that metaphor. But, hell, seeing as I was watching Milla when we clinched playoff baseball, I think she enters the pantheon of SnakePit deities, alongside St. Penelope of the Cross and the Blessed Salma of Hayek, as a Holy Trinity of sorts.
Bob Melvin will be the Manager of the Year. There's no doubt about it now. Dropping Webb back to face the Rockies explains why he earned the label "Mad Scientist" from Grace and Sutton; it was the kind of move that, if it had backfired, would have been subject to second-guessing from now till spring training. And, given Webb hadn't beaten the Rockies in five attempts this year, it was taking a huge risk. But it paid off, as Webb held the Rockies to two runs over seven innings, in what was probably the biggest start of his career, given we haven't come within five games of the playoffs since his debut. Said Webb, "It got pretty loud. It was like a playoff atmosphere. A couple of times, it got supersonic out there with that sold-out crowd. I was trying to keep my emotions in check."
Us too, Brandon, us too. I got absolutely no work done after the first pitch, as Webb worked in and out of jams. He got some huge plays from his defense, not least Snyder throwing out Matsui when he tried to steal in the first. Instead of a man on second, one out, it was bases empty, no outs, and that changed the whole dynamic of the game, even if the impact on actual Win Probability for us was small (only +4%). There was also a crucial double-play in the second, when Hawpe grounded out after the first two men reached for Colorado, a base-running gaffe by Francis which cost the Rockies a run, another double-play in the fourth, and a crucial K of Sullivan with a man on third and one out in the seventh.
Meanwhile, the offense was doing just enough to hold on. Heroic at-bat from Augie Ojeda to score our first run, falling behind, then fouling off pitch after pitch before finally getting one he could drive to the outfield for a sacrifice fly. That earns the Littlest Ballplayer a spot in the 2007 Hall of Fame, if nothing else already had. Conor Jackson, meanwhile continued his ownership of Francis - CoJack's first three career homers all came off the Rockies' pitcher - with a two-run shot to give us a three-run lead. And Stephen Drew remains en fuego, with a two-out RBI single, one of three hits on the night, which leave him 10-for-18 on this road-trip.
Brandon Lyon allowed a one-out double but stranded the runner there in the eighth [which we listened to in the parking lot at Arizona Mills!], and then it was Valverde time. And what's a Papa Grande outing without a little drama? Entirely self-manufactured in this case, as he walked two of the first three hitters to put the tying man aboard with one out. However, in what seemed a dubious decision by Hurdle, he sent up Joe Koshansky - a man with one major-league knock to his name - as a pinch-hitter. Clint proposes; Jose disposes. Joe K was duly K'd by Joe V, K-Maz K'd too, and Arizona took the field, the usual stoic handshakes becoming wild celebrations after word of the Mets loss seeped through [the Coors Field staff having "forgotten" to make the score final on their board...]
The Gameday Thread smashed all known records in that area, by heading on for two hundred posts. It was great to come home and read them all; more than missing the actual contest last night, I think I regret not being able to take part fully in the thread. My gratitude goes to npineda for taking roll-call, which saved me a lot of work! :-) So, thanks also to each and every one of the following: TwinnerA, LucaMaz3, nihil67, Devin, DbacksSkins, hotclaws, johngordonma, Rod [welcome!], Adam, snakecharmer, icecoldmo, azdb7, VIII, DBACKS KICK ARSE, npineda, andrewinnewyork, cosmack [welcome too!], unnamedDBacksfan, Stile4aly, oklahomasooners, leemellon, peeklay, seton hall snake pit, Otacon, cj060896, Peachy, soco and last but not least, muu.
Arizona can, to a certain extent, sit back and enjoy the rest of the weekend, knowing that they already have their spot booked in the playoffs. [Mrs. SnakePit and I were making serious plans to fly to Denver on Sunday if necessary!] However, one more win would certainly be very welcome: that would secure the division title and home-field advantage until the playoffs. The most likely scenario at the moment involves us playing the Cubs in the NLDS; they clinched the Central, with the worst record of the division champions. The Padres are 85% likely to get the wild-card now, and would play the NL East champions, assuming we have the best record: that's probably going to be the Phillies, as the Mets lost...to Byung-Hung Kim yesterday. Ah-ha: it all makes sense now. We let him go back to the Marlins, so he could beat the Mets, thereby clinching AZ a playoff spot. That Bob Melvin's a genius. ;-)
It's worth pointing out that, of the three most-likely NL playoff teams, we own the season series against all of them: 10-8 over the Padres, 4-2 against the Cubs, and 5-1 over the Phillies. Nothing to fear there. [We're tied with the Rockies, and one game down against the Mets; both their hopes are slim, though the Mets are all over the Marlins this morning, 5-0 up in the third. They still have to face the D-Train tomorrow, who has been Mets Kryptonite in his career] Playoff tickets went on sale this morning, but I'm sitting this round out, as I have a feeling the home games are going to be daytime ones, which makes for a sticky scenario. Besides, if we're playing the Cubs, it's going to be... Ok, let's not gouge open that wound, shall we; I'm still persona non grata in the Windy City for my comments regarding some Cubs fans their last trip here. Oh, but you should check out the special logo Al has, over at Bleed Cubbie Blue. Different shirt and cap, but the same feeling for us this morning!
Now, we prepare to enter recently-uncharted territory. I wasn't even blogging the last time we made the playoffs, and this promises to be one hell of a fun ride. Better prepare: d'you think we should switch to an overflow thread when we hit 400 comments, to avoid that nesting thing? Because I've a feeling we might hit that level a few times next week. A very pleasant dilemma to have...but the surge is building, and it's just a question of seeing how far it takes us. This team has already surpassed all our expectations, albeit in the most unexpected of ways. Everything from here on out, truly is gravy.
[editor's note, by DbacksSkins] The correct fangraph has been uploaded, replacing the graph from Thursday. [editor's-editor's note, by Jim McLennan] Actually, I think it was already uploaded, and I just forgot to change the references in the piece. Thought it looked a bit too easy... :-) Good catch!