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Diamondbacks 4, Cards 2 - "And would Sir like those runs gift-wrapped?"

Record: 79-63. Change on last season: +12. Pace: 90-72
Playoff odds: 76.6%. Playoff Magic Number: 16

Quote of the day: ""For him to get out of that situation, I think that right there was the key to the game Brandon Lyon is a tough guy. He's been a huge part of our success this year." -- Eric Byrnes

Snakecharmer gets up early, I get up late. Hey: it's the weekend, so sue me. :-) It has to be admitted, Arizona less won last night's game, than St. Louis lost it. For two of our runs were not so much scored by the Diamondbacks, as handed to them on a silver platter by the Cardinals. Our first came with Brandon Webb at the plate, and Augie Ojeda on first. A two-out grounder to the short-stop got thrown away, and it looked like we'd have men on second and third for Stephen Drew. However, inexplicably, Chip Hale waved Ojeda round third: Ankiel's (suspiciously?) strong throw was up the line, but beat Ojeda by a mile. However, Molina dropped the ball and Ojeda performed a gymnastic swan-dive over the Cardinals catcher, to score the first run, and merit a 9.85 score from the judges.

St. Louis got that back on a fourth-inning solo homer by Edmonds, and took the lead on an RBI single from Pujols in the next frame. Byrnes tied it up with an RBI double in the sixth, and after Clark flied out, Reynolds beat out an infield hit to put men on the corners with one out. Then came our second gift from St. Louis: Chris Young hit a chopper to Miles, who headed for second, to tag the base and throw to first, ending the inning. However, he simply fell over on his way there, as if sniped from behind the grassy knoll. Byrnes scored from third, without the ball leaving Miles' hand, and Arizona had a lead they'd never relinquish.

Still, all runs count the same in the standings, just as all wins do: lucky or unlucky, close or blowouts. And on the day when it was announced that we might have lost our All-Star, Gold Glove second baseman for the year, we deserve the baseball gods giving us something in exchange, even if it's only a couple of cheapie runs. We'll take it, and they were enough to provide Brandon Webb with his fifteenth win of the year, even though he only pitched six innings. Eighty-six pitches is tied for his shortest outing in over a year, and even our ace admitted he didn't have his best stuff. "I battled through, missed a lot of spots and got some pretty key outs. It was very nice to go out there and not have my best stuff, only go six innings, give up two and come out with a W."

Nice to see the bullpen return to form, with three shutout innings, Pestileñce, War and Death each allowing one hit. Lyon probably deserves the save more than Valverde: he was pitching with a one-run lead, Tony Clark adding an insurance run before Papa Grande took the mound, and was also facing more dangerous hitters. He allowed a leadoff double to Pujols, who reached third with one out, but a strikeout of Branyan turned the tide, and Molina grounded out on the first pitch to end the threat. Clark's homer gave us some breathing room, and a smartly-turned double-play, started by Augie 'Action Man' Ojeda ended the game.

Questions should be asked about our base-running, which certainly seemed less "aggressive" than "borderline psychotic". As well as Ojeda's eventful trip from third - despite the happy ending - Eric Byrnes was thrown out at third by about twenty feet, and Chris Young was picked off first. It's a good thing none of these ended up biting us in the ass. We had the same number of hits as the Cardinals (seven), the same total number of bases (eleven), the same hits with RISP (one - ours didn't even score a run!) and fewer walks (2-5). Somehow, we ended up with twice as many runs. Go figure. Byrnes and Clark each had two hits, while Young reached safely twice, on a hit and a walk.

The win's the thing, and our pitching staff did their part to keep the victories rolling, on a night when the offense scratched and scuffled. With all our major rivals dropping games, this was a good night to push one across. Enjoyed the Gameday Thread too; DbacksSkins (I had no radio on the bus, just my iPod!), VIII, hotclaws, andrewinnewyork, snakecharmer, oklahomasooners, Peachy, johngordonma, LucaMaz3, dahlian, azdb7, 4CornersFan, icecoldmo, Rockies Phan, peeklay, TwinnerA and soco in attendance. I just popped over to Purple Row, and looks like they've had some "issues", as the latest post is a review of their site's code of conduct. Ouch. Here's to us continuing our libertarian-anarchofascist ways in that area!

Gameday Graph

[Click graph to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes, +22.9%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Snyder, -13.5%
Honorary "Well done!": Brandon Lyon, +12.4%

Our playoff odds are almost at an all-time high now. It was slightly higher (77.1%), after we beat Atlanta to open up a five-game lead on August 18, but the fact that there are now only twenty games to go, rather than 38, begins to have a very important impact. This three-game streak has also had a major effect on what remains to be done. If we play .500 ball the rest of the way, we'll be 89-73: the Padres would need to go 13-9 to match that, and current wild-card leaders, the Dodgers (now 75-67, after beating the Giants this afternoon) require a 14-6 record.

New poll up, with Brandon Webb, unsurprisingly, a runaway winner as Player of the Month for August. This one was sparked by a simple curiosity about visitors here, and our brushes with the enemy over at GLB, where the average age of posters seems to be about twelve (they'll be thirteen really soon!). We'll see how we shape up. Not sure if I'll be about for much of tonight's game: we're going to tomorrow afternoon's game, and the Cubs weekend taught me that, yes, there is such a thing as too much baseball. We'll see how things go, and I should be up to kick off the Gameday Thread, at the very least.