Record: 76-63. Change on last season: +11. Pace: 89-73
Playoff odds: 45.3%. Playoff Magic Number: 22
[I'm really not happy with the magic number, which appears to be moving about like Eric Byrnes after a pop-up. Looks like it dropped by four yesterday, even though we lost. Not quite sure how it managed that, but I'm just reporting these things...]
Quote of the day: "Obviously we haven't had the best offensive club in the National League this year, but I think we're better than what we've shown, I think there's potential there. Potential just means that you haven't done it yet. So, if we keep this up we'll be sitting at home in October. If we start playing better, if we start playing up to our capabilities and fulfilling that potential, then I think we have a good enough team to play in October." -- Eric Byrnes
At least the team didn't tease us today, flattering to deceive, by getting the go-ahead run into scoring position, or making us watch the bullpen fritter away a lead. No: we flat-out stank, and this one didn't take long to get ugly at all. Just two pitches, in fact, before the Padres were ahead to stay, as Brian Giles smacked a 1-0 delivery from Micah Owings into the bleachers. Though Owings escaped the first inning without further damage, Geoff Blum added a two-run shot in the second, then Giles (again) and Adrian Gonzalez both went deep in the third, to make it 5-0 to San Diego. Micah's day was over, though not before he did hit a double in the bottom of the third, improving his batting average to .294.
He went one better than that game against Atlanta, where he allowed three hits, all of them homers - this time, Owings gave up four hits, all of them homers. That's a feat no other starter has managed since Kaz Ishii for the Dodgers, in August 2004 [Brian Sanchez did it in relief for the Phillies on July 15th this year] As noted in the comments, it means that over his last five starts, eight out of the seventeen hits Micah has allowed, never came back. He has now allowed 19 homers in 134.2 innings - curiously, was looking at the list of pitchers who've allowed 19+ homers this year, in the fewest number of innings. Half the top 16 played for the AZ system at some point: Bacsik, Durbin, Vargas, De La Rosa, Capuano, Owings, Chico and Hernandez 1.0.
Meanwhile, Greg Maddux took full advantage of this early run support and slayed his seven-year old streak of inability to defeat the Diamondbacks. He pitched into the seventh innings, and the only damage to the scoreboard we had managed up to that point was Eric Byrnes' twentieth homer of the year, a solo shot leading off the fourth. It was nice to see Carlos Quentin back, however: he doubled as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, driving home Reynolds and chasing Maddux from the game. Though, given the score was still 7-2 to the Padres at that point, it was perhaps less Maddux being "chased" than "deciding he had this one well locked-up, and a nice, hot shower was in order."
The C-bullpen was out in full effect today. Not the Four Horsemen, and not even the Nippert-EdGon-Slaten first alternates. No, this was the "guys who got called up when the roster expanded," along with the Petit unit, who were forced into seven innings of mop-up work. I think we all realised this one was over when Brandon Medders arrived on the mound; he continued exactly where he left off, allowing his ninth home-run of the year to the second batter he faced since his recall. His HR rate, now 3.33/nine IP, is second in the majors among the 294 pitchers with more than six homers - #1 is D-backs reject Lance Cormier, who has allowed 13 in 32 innings, 3.66 per nine. Results after that were somewhat mixed. Medders did pitch a scoreless seventh, and Bill Murphy made his major-league debut with a scoreless eighth. However, the ninth was much less successful, as he walked three hitters, one intentionally, and ended up tagged for three runs.
Peguero got the final out, a swinging K of Kouzmanoff, and Emilio Bonifacio played his second game without an at-bat, walking with one out in the ninth. Temporarily at least, that puts Bonifacio in an elite club: only 22 non-pitchers in baseball history have a career consisting of multiple games, without an official at-bat. He has some way to go to beat the all-time record, however: Herb Washington, pinch-runner extraordinaire for the Oakland A's in 1974-75, who appeared in 105 games but never even came to the plate! I suspect he's the only position player to win a World Series ring (in 1974) without an at-bat... And that's today's quirky fact. :-)
Not very much to cheer about today. Eric Byrnes had two hits, including the homer, but we managed only six in total, with Bonifacio's the sole walk. About the only plus is, the Phillies lost, and so we didn't drop any ground there. Since we're now in second place, we should also very definitely be looking at the wild-card standings, which show us three games ahead of the Dodgers and Phillies, with the Rockies not out of the picture yet, four games back. If we go 11-12 the rest of the way, the Dodgers and Phillies need to go 15-10 to tie us, and the Rockies 16-9. We have six games left against the Dodgers, and that could prove crucial.
The early suckage by the Diamondbacks took much of the steam out of the Gameday Thread - though the lack of television coverage probably meant there wasn't all that much to begin with. VIII, hotclaws, Englishdback, DbacksSkins, Muu, Wimb, snakecharmer (using her new-found powers for good, I'm pleased to see!), batster and unnamedDBacksfan were the brave souls to venture away from the barbecue and general celebration of the working man. Me, I did fix one of the rollers on the garage-door, so I feel I got into the spirit of the holiday.