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Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 4 - First Time's the Harm

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Record: 76-62. Change on last season: +11. Pace: 89-73
Playoff odds: 56.0%. Playoff Magic Number: 26

Quote of the day: "We kind of don't know what we're in the middle of. I mean, we understand it, but we're just so young. We're just so day-to-day. We don't dwell on the losses and we don't go party after the wins." -- Mark Reynolds

This one ended up being over almost before it was started. Webb struggled with his control in the first inning, and the first four Rockies reached on two hits and two walks. A sacrifice fly and an RBI single made it 3-0 to Colorado before we went to the plate: though we struck back immediately, scoring two in the bottom half, Holliday added a crucial insurance run in the third to make it 4-2. We narrowed the gap back to one in the eighth on a ground-out by Byrnes, to score Hudson who'd led off the inning with a triple, but just couldn't get any closer than that.

This was a procession of wasted opportunities, with Arizona leaving ten men on base, a figure not surpassed since July 21st. We had the first two men on in the third, and if Webb had got the bunt down, we'd have been a sacrifice fly or grounder to the right from tying the game. No luck. In the sixth, Upton doubled with one out, and after Webb fanned again, Young then singled, but Upton was thrown out after going too wide around third base. In the eighth, Jackson executed a very nice, pinch-hit and run, which pushed the runner to third. But Young struck out looking, ending our last, best hope.

After the first, Webb was great, allowing only two hits and one walk from the second through the seventh. However, the damage had been done, and he was tagged with the loss for four runs on seven innings, while his season ERA went up to 2.91. One small consolation was two perfect innings from the bullpen, courtesy of Jailen Peguero, Slaten and Peña. We did outhit the Rockies significantly, 10-5, but we just couldn't string the base-runners together in any meaningful way. Hudson, Clark and Drew all got two hits each, while Snyder reached safely three times, courtesy of two walks and a HBP.

Do have to say, home-plate umpire Bill Miller seemed to have a wildly-inconsistent standard. It's the first time I've followed a game on MLB Gameday, which plots the location of every pitch, and the strike-zone appeared to be a moving target, with some strikes called balls, and some balls called strikes. That may explain why Brandon Webb had to be gently, but firmly, escorted off the field by Chris Snyder at the end of the fourth. However, he talked to Miller before batting in the fifth, and the pair seemed to settle their differences amicably.

Eric Byrnes: 0-for-5, bringing his average since the contract extension down to .228. The second-half slump, predicted by a number of folk, appears to be coming to pass, with an August line for Byrnes of just .225/.319/.353, for an OPS of .672. Somewhere, there was a site which broke down at-bats for hitters, and measured things like pop-ups: I forget where it was, but I feel sure Byrnes would be one of the stars there. Mark Grace went into some detail during the broadcast about why that is: Byrnes' shoulder is dropping, and while he's getting the barrel of his bat on the ball, he's getting right under it. The result: large numbers of very high, very shallow pop-ups. And got to say, he looks a right idiot, prancing like a petulant nine-year old ballerina down the first-base line as they soar into the air. You know you screwed up. We know you screwed up. No need to make a dance about it.

Emilio Bonifacio became the first of the September call-ups to make his major league debut [most, like Peguero, have already appeared in a Diamondbacks uniform], when he came on as a pinch-runner in the eighth, replacing Chris Snyder. He showed good speed getting to third on the infield hit-and-run by Jackson, and that's the kind of situation he was brought up for. Of course, we'll be waiting for Bill Murphy to make his first appearance, since he was out first interview here at the Pit. But that will probably be a couple more days off, since he pitched six innings for the Sidewinders on Thursday. Still, we'll be pulling for him, when he does stride out onto Chase Field.

Normal service duly resumed in the Gameday Thread after yesterday's unofficial boycott. Our lineup was: hotclaws, LucaMaz3, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, TwinnerA, npineda, andrewinnewyork, Englishdback, britdback and soco. Solid coverage from my former homeland: afternoon games are good for that, because of the time difference. Be expecting more of the same tomorrow, folks, with it being a Labor Day afternoon extravaganza. Mrs. SnakePit has already got the hot-dogs, which will be marinating nicely all afternoon. Now, that's a use for "Lite" beer. :-)

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Orlando Hudson, +19.7%
God-emperor of suck: Eric Byrnes, -26.0%
Honorary "Well done!": Chris Snyder, +12.1%

So, the series slips away - we should certainly have won on Friday, and possibly today, which makes it somewhat irritating to drop two of three. We now welcome the Padres to town, for what should be a fun three-game series, especially if last Thursday's match-up is anything to go by. The good news is, no Peavy this time: we get to face Maddux, Young and some rookie called Cassel, making his second major-league start. We won't have Webb either, but Owings, Davis and Hernandez have all been, to a certain extent, solid and reliable of late, and should prove capable of keeping us in the games. I think we can probably take two out of these three, but that will depend on the offense. Today, it was a case of the hits, just not the timely hits, and that could be a problem.

And a quick note on attendance. The total crowd for these three games came in at 82,022. That's more than 17% up on the last time the Rockies played a weekend series at Chase Field, back in mid-April, when attendance didn't even reach seventy thousand. I'm just sayin'... :-)