Record: 8-2. Pace: 130-32. Change on last season: +1
Facing the Rockies in 2008 is beginning to feel like Silence of the Lambs, with us as Dr. Lecter and Colorado playing the part of Clarice. They may come in with all the power, be that as reigning National League champions or as an FBI agent. But they still get their asses handed to them in the resulting confrontation, and are left as little more than a sobbing wreck, whimpering in the corner of the room. I'm left to wonder how the hell basically the same team swept us last October. Was Kaz Matsui that important? That's four times we've played them this year. Four victories for Arizona. A combined margin of victory which now stands at 28-7. Their line against us is .177/.234/.285. Ours against them is .309/.380/.559. There is not an aspect of the game where we have not totally owned their asses. "Well, Troy - have the lambs stopped screaming?"
Let's start with the supposed match-up of aces. Jeff Francis now has an ERA of 9.53, having allowed 19 hits and 6 homers in only 11.1 innings. Brandon Webb's ERA, after one more start, is 2.14, twelve hits and one homer in 21 innings. Last night, it was eight innings, four hits, one walk, six K's, 104 pitches, 65 strikes, including 17 called and 10 swinging. Just another run-of-the-mill, ho-hum victory, though he was absolutely regal; if the sinker still remains the key weapon in his arsenal, adding that change-up makes it simply unfair. Yorvit Torrealba was particularly brutalized by Webb: fanned three times, and making contact on just one of the twelve pitches Brandon threw him, fouling it off. As he trudged back to the dugout with his bat, you could see him shaking his head and mouthing unfairness. "It's like trying to catch a chicken," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. I think that's a compliment...
Meanwhile, our offense racked up three more long-balls, as part of their fourth straight game with ten hits or more. All the homers came with men on base: after the long series of solo shots to start the year, we've now had five in a row that drove in multiple runs, which ties the best such series since we had six consecutive with men aboard, back in August 2003. Strange how it works. Last night's producers were Upton, Byrnes and Hudson. Good to see EB coming around; after a dismal start, he's beginning to come around to the first-half form we expected from him. He now has a seven-game hitting streak going and on this homestand is 8-for-16 with three walks and 5 RBI. Also happy to see Chris Young get a couple of hits too, and the top third of our order were a combined 6-for-12 with four driven in and six runs scored.
Perhaps the best at-bats of the day, however, belonged to Mark Reynolds, who saw 28 pitches in his four plate-appearances. He made outs the first two times up, albeit on pretty deep fly-balls, but leading off the sixth, he coaxed an eight-pitch walk after falling behind 0-2, then stole second and scored on Upton's blast to left. Equally impressive was his at-bat in the seventh, where he worked the count full then slapped a line-drive to left on the seventh pitch. As Grace and Sutton pointed out, last season, Reynolds would likely have been making his way back to the dugout. He still will strike out - he has K'd ten times in his first ten games, compared to seven last year - but is seeing more pitches. Last year, he was at 3.94 per plate appearance; thus far (albeit on a small sample size), he's up to 4.40.
Was somewhat surprised to see Chad Qualls pitching the ninth, with a six-run lead. Still I have learned the hard way that thou shalt not question his wisdom, for the wrath of the many will descend and strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who would attempt to poison and destroy Bob Melvin. Or something like that. I guess somebody had to pitch it. Still, despite winning seven in a row and possessing the best record in baseball, the watchword in the D-backs clubhouse is modesty. "You want to have a lot of confidence, but you don't want to get too big out there, you don't want to feel like you're untouchable... Just like when you're struggling, you can't get down on yourself. When we're struggling, which we will at some point, we can't get down. We've got to keep trusting that our natural ability is going to take over."
Still, it's another win, the 8-2 victory coincidentally giving us an 8-2 start, the best in franchise history. Here's the best records the Diamondbacks have managed at various points in the season:
10 games: 8-2 - 2008
20 games: 13-7 - 2000, 2002
30 games: 20-10 - 2000
40 games: 27-13 - 2000
50 games: 32-18 - 2000
60 games: 37-23 - 2002
70 games: 43-27 - 2001, 2002
80 games: 49-31 - 2001
90 games: 54-36 - 2002
100 games: 59-41 - 2002
110 games: 67-43 - 2002
120 games: 75-45 - 2002
130 games: 83-47 - 2002
140 games: 87-53 - 2002
150 games: 92-58 - 2002
162 games: 100-62 - 1999
Nice to see some of the old faces, from the 1998 inaugural team, brought back to Chase to commemorate the tenth anniversary. Among those seen were Jay Bell, Matt Williams, Travis Lee [who got the biggest ovation of the night, perhaps surprisingly], Brent Brede, Andy Benes, Omar Daal and Greg Olson. The team may largely have sucked, falling just shy of 100 losses, but they were pioneers and it was good to see most of them back [Karim Garcia was not present. His probation officer probably wouldn't let him out of the state]. Most amused to read:
For the record, most of the 1998 players polled were thrilled that the team had abandoned the original purple-and-teal color scheme for red. "I was never a big fan of the purple," Lee said. "I think they needed a change, and the red is a really nice change."
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Master of his domain: Eric Byrnes, +22.8%
Honorary mention: Brandon Webb, +19.2%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -2.0%
Though watching the game, wasn't around much in the comments, but according to 'charmer, "hotclaws took up the punning and nerd jokes in your absence. :)" Well, I guess we Brits have a reputation to maintain! kishi, Russ, bcloirao, soco, Azreous, The Main Man, DbacksSkins, foulpole, AZSEAfan, jsk6788, snakecharmer, seton hall snake pit, hotclaws, Wimb, peeklay, singaporedbacksfan, AZDarkKnight, peachy rex, unnamedDBacksfan, Muu, Bcawz, TwinnerA and dstorm were the contributors. Though if last night was anything to go by, we may have to put up a *post*-Gameday Thread to keep up with the after-contest chat, which raged on the topic of the extent to which we should root for or against the Rockies...
Should be a good deal more present today, though it seems that the rest of the country, outside of Colorado and Arizona, will be robbed of a chance to see the best team in baseball, or even a first-place outfit, instead having inflicted on them the Red Sox-Yankees game. They have my sympathy! Gameday Thread to follow real soon...