Thanks for the placeholder, Jim! When I went to bed last night SBN was once again down. This is getting more than a little annoying, I hope we get a resolution and an official explanation soon. But it looks like we are back in business, folks, both online here at the Snake Pit and in the win column! Last night’s game featured a lot of drama and, in the gameday threads, a lot of upset stomachs, but it ended up well for all involved! Except for maybe Jeff Kent and Joe Torre and soco. More on that later.
Let's get right down to it folks, because the Diamondbacks sure did, scoring a quick run in the first inning courtesy of Conor Jackson's hot bat. Up go his numbers again with two hits and two RBIs last night. His average now sits at .368 and his OPS a ridikkulous 1.119 according to ESPN, good enough for 5th in all MLB. The Dodgers got that run back in the bottom of the first, but Jeff Salazar took care of that quickly in the 2nd with a two-run home run on a hanging curve ball from Chad Billingsley to put the Dbacks ahead 3-1. That's his first non-pinch-hit home run of his career, and as he told Todd Walsh on the post-game show, he's glad to know he can do it!
Nonetheless, Billingsley was working that curve ball hard all night, getting Hudson, Jackson and Reynolds to strike out swinging in the 3rd. I'm not going to lie, he looked good and he was making our batters look silly, with 9 strikeouts through the first four innings; he would amass 12 Ks in six innings, a new career-high for him. Diamondbacks starter Edgar Gonzalez looked quite the opposite, falling behind hitters, struggling with his command, and having difficulty getting on the same page as Miguel Montero. (Granted, it was Miggy's first start back from the DL.) As brought up in the Gameday Thread though, EdGon seems to have inherited the Claudio Vargas / Livan Hernandez special Pitching Pixie - he pitched just good enough to get the win, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 5.1 innings of work.
Gonzalez got his first win of the season because of his team's offense (and a few great defensive plays by Drew and Salazar). Aggressive base running keyed the win tonight. In the 5th, Chris Young singled, went to third on a Stephen Drew double, and scored on a wild pitch. Conor Jackson's hustle down the first base line allowed Drew to score on a would-be inning-ending double-play ball to make it 5-3 after five innings. Gonzalez finally ran out of steam in the 6th inning after back-to-back base hits by Loney and Martin. Juan Cruz came in and, as is becoming the norm this year, it was anything but Cruz Control. Cruz hit Ethier to load the bases but stuck out Kemp on a great pitch sequence and got pinch hitter Mark Sweeney to fly out to deep center. Whew, went the collective sigh from the Gameday Thread!
Oh but the drama didn't end there, folks. Bad decisions by Chad Qualls and Justin Upton and a throwing error by Mark Reynolds fueled the Dodgers' opportunities in the 7th. The Diamondbacks were lucky to get out of it with only one run scoring to bring the game back to the precariously close score of 5-4. But, there's that man again, Conor Jackson was at the center of the Diamondbacks offense in the 8th inning. After getting on base with a solid one-out single to left, Mark Reynolds hit what would have been at least the second out of the inning - had second baseman Jeff Kent not been called off the bag, and both runners were safe! Replays seemed to show 2B umpire Andy Fletcher was right, but Jeff Kent was hot and bothered. (No, not in that way! Sheesh!) He went right after the umpire and had to be held back by another ump and at least three teammates. Joe Torre finally sauntered his way out to talk too but the call stayed, and so did Kent - for the time being. Kent and Torre would be ejected in the top of the 9th inning as the Dodgers went back out to field, which was seriously like 15-20 minutes later. Come on, at some point, you have to give the argument up, but nooo, not Jeff Kent .
Anyhoo! This was significant because Conor Jackson would move up to third base on a wild pitch and score on a sacrifice fly by Justin Upton, giving the Diamondbacks their final run of the 6-4 ballgame. Peña and Lyon both looked absolutely terrific up on the hill for the 8th and 9th and both worked easy 1-2-3 innings, Lyon nailing down his sixth save in eight chances and lowing his ERA below 4! Even considering those two blown saves in Cincinnati, I am feeling more comfortable with Lyon as our closer after each game he pitches in.
Master of his domain: Conor Jackson, +17.6%
God-Emperor of suck: Edgar Gonzalez,-15.7%
Game Notes by Jim
- No problems at all inside Dodger Stadium, despite my 'flaunting' of my colors. The only communication was a drunken (but friendly) LA fan, who asked my how to pronounce azsnakepit.com, as on the back of my shirt, having mistaken it for a last name... "Yeah, it's Polish", I was going to say. :-)
- Dodgers dogs = good. Grilled Dodger dogs = quite excellent. Some stands serve one, some the other, but definitely go for the latter.
- I thought the stories of the local fans arriving in the third and leaving after the seventh were merely baseball folklore. They're not.
- Ditto the beachballs. You might get to see the odd one on the park, but you don't get to see the, literally, dozens which are being thrown around the stands. At least, until the security guards confiscate them - to loud boos from the crowd.
- You can tell you are in Hollywood. The first pitch was thrown out by a couple of CSI actors, the National Anthem sung by another one from The Bold and the Beautiful, and in attendance at tonight's game were Melissa Gilbert [from The Little House on the Prairie] and Christan Slater. How can Arizona compete with that?
- Los Angeles doesn't have a mascot. Got to like that...
- They announced a re-development of Dodger Stadium today. It's a bit creaky round the edges, but I didn't mind it. At 56,000, it's quite a bit bigger than Chase, and has an airy feel - you can't really tell you are in the middle of Los Angeles.
- Our seats were in the middle level, just beyond third-base. Pretty good: you got a good sense of whether a ball was a line-drive or a pop-fly. Didn't seem too crowded, but the announced gate was 39,000: including a few families there for bar-mitzvahs, which is apparently a frequent thing at Dodger Stadium..
And as for the game itself:
- Even though the Diamondbacks never trailed, I can't say this felt like a comfortable victory. Still, I liked the way every time the Dodgers scored, Arizona came back.
- Edgar Gonzalez did not look good at all, very much a back of the rotation starter. He fell behind most of the batters he faced, but somehow managed to avoid disaster.
- He was helped, enormously by a magnificent play from Drew to start a double-play, flipping the ball to Hudson while lying on his stomach. That probably changed the complexion of the whole game. However, Drew gets negative points for an ill-advised attempt to advance on a ball that Martin dropped behind the plate, but which was still in front of the catcher.
- However, Mark Reynolds pinging a throw off the helmet of Furcal, when he got hung up between second and third on a comebacker to Qualls, almost proved disastrous. Fortunately, another double-play ended that threat.
- 15 K's for Arizona: that total has only been passed twice by the D-backs in a nine-inning game. Three each for Reynolds and Young, and Billingsley's curve was, I have to admit, a thing of beauty.
- Delighted by Salazar's home-run. I think if my shirt hadn't given away my loyalty, my standing and screaming "Woooooo!" probably did.
- A solid performance from the bullpen, with Qualls allowing only an unearned run, while Pena and Lyon just looked nasty,
- All told, a good game to win. Happy to leave with a split, and it runs the D-backs record when I'm in attendance to 3-0. Can't argue with that!