In a hot and humid day in San Diego, two teams following two separate paths met on a common axis: the Cy Young award winning pitching of Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy. A quick glance of the box score would suggest a classic pitcher’s duel resulting in a 2-1 Arizona win, but a closer look reveals two excellent pitchers struggling with location but ultimately proving their worth in key moments.
The Diamondbacks were the first to strike, taking advantage of Peavy’s nibbling of the strike zone and resulting walk in the top of the 2nd. This was not wildly different from the 1st, when Chris Young got on base for the only time of the afternoon with a walk, but in 2nd it was Chris Snyder making the Friars pay by slamming a ball into deep center.
Control continued to be a problem for both pitchers, but caught up to Webb in the bottom of the 4th after a walk and an error by the normally sure Orlando Hudson with no outs. San Diego was able to capitalize on these mistakes with a sacrifice fly by Jim Edmonds, but this would be the end of scoring for both teams.
The Padres knocked on the door twice, the first being in the 5th with a double by Peavy, attempting to help his own cause, and a Brian Giles walk. They were advanced by a Paul McAnaulty grounder, and a walk by Adrian Gonzalez filled the bases. Webb regained composure and struck out the next batter, Keven Kousmanoff, ending the threat.
The very next offensive opportunity for the Padres was remarkably similar, with back to back singles by Khalil Greene and Tadahito Iguchi, and then a walk by Josh Bard, all with one out. Webb, clearly gassed, gave his all and struck out Peavy before forcing a groundout from Giles.
That was largely the end of the offensive displays from the two sides. Arizona managed two on in the 7th with one out that was quickly wasted with a pop out by Snyder and a strike out by the pinch hitting Miguel Montero.
The offense wouldn’t be needed, though, with solid relief pitching by both sides. Cruz came in and was lights out, followed by Pena who walked Greene, and then Lyon who closed the game for his seventh save of the season.
Though there were scattered base runners at times, both pitchers made the plays when it counted, minus the two mistakes that resulted in runs for both sides. Ultimately this match up could be considered a preview for this year’s Cy Young race, and both performed admirably given the circumstances. Peavy, after battling through the early control issues, struck out nine Diamondbacks with three walks, and decreased his ERA to 2.09. Webb might not have been as impressive in strikeouts, with five, and the control in the later innings was scary, walking four, but his ERA dropped to 1.98 after the outing.
The FanGraph hasn't updated yet, or maybe I can't find the link to post the picture, but here's a link to the site.
Master of his domain: Brandon Webb, +27.7%
God-emperor of suck: Conor Jackson
At the end of the day, the Diamondbacks find themselves 18-7and 6 games up on the second place Dodgers, and ends the long line of 22 straight divisional games. As Sutton and Grace have been known to preach the past month, you can't win a division in April but you can certainly lose it. The Diamondbacks have made a strong case as the favorite, and though we should preach patience and understanding for the inevitable slumps that the summer will bring, the boys in Sedona Red make it hard to be objective.
The 6 game lead that Arizona isn't just good enough to lead the NL West, but as large or nearly as large as what the other divisional leaders have with the bottom of their respective divisions. The 148 runs scored are best in the majors, and the 93 allowed are second best, behind only Oakland. This a team not only showcasing it's dominating pitching, as was expected before the season began, but won with power (33 home runs, third in the majors), smart at bats for the most part (105 free base runners) and a resilient defense to back up the pitching.
A quick game doesn't facilitate a long gamethread, but it was long enough for an overflow a little over 100 comments strong. Making appearances today were: soco, seton hall snake pit, mrssoco, snakecharmer, kishi, hotclaws, unnamedDBacksfan, DbacksSkins, SongBird, foulpole, azshadowwalker, dahlian, LucaMaz3, 4 Corners Fan, DiamondbacksWIn, Augie's Army, paqs, Wimb, Stile4aly, singaporedbacksfan.
Tomorrow your Arizona Diamondbacks come home to take on the Houston Astros, who may or may not be the age listed in the media guide. Jim should be back by then, so normal programming can continue, scab-free.