Record: 19-7. Pace: 118-44. Change on last season: +4
Rarely have the ferocious powers of the baseball gods, when angered, been so swiftly demonstrated. #29 in Baseball's Unwritten Rules clearly states, "Never mention a no-hitter while it's in progress." Unfortunately, Turambar was not aware of this and at 7:39 PM precisely, after Dan Haren had mowed down the first four innings-worth of Houston batters, posted, "Well, time to keep the no-hitter rolling." The horror-struck reaction of those present had to be seen to be believed, and it was probably inevitable that, when the Astros fifth opened, it went:
- L. Berkman walked
- C. Lee doubled to deep left center, L. Berkman to third
- H. Pence grounded out to second, L. Berkman scored, C. Lee to third
- M. Loretta singled to right center, C. Lee scored
- J.R. Towles hit by pitch, M. Loretta to second
- C. Sampson reached on bunt single to third, M. Loretta to third, J.R. Towles to second
From retiring the first twelve hitters, on only 35 pitches, Haren suddenly found himself unable to get anyone out - not even the opposing pitcher, whose bunt attempt left everyone safe. As discussed in the Gameday Thread, a mob of angry D-backs fans waving torches was being gathered, ready to march on Turambar's home - from a 4-0 lead and a perfect game, we were now looking at the tying run on second-base, with only one man out. Fortunately, Haren saved our blaspheming friend, by getting Matsui to pop-up, then fanning Bourn to end the threat, and send the mob back to their homes, albeit still muttering under its breath...
Still, all's well that ends well: "all" in this case, being another win for Arizona, Haren bouncing back magnificently from his previous loss, to pitch into the eighth and vacuum up his fourth win of the season. All told, he threw 7.2 innings, retiring the opposition in order for six of them, and gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk, fanning five. He even helped his own cause by driving in the go-ahead run in the third, with an RBI double, continuing a great season so far by our hurlers at the plate, who are now batting a collective .273 [15-for-55] this year. Only 1B, LF and RF have a higher average for AZ than our pitchers. To quote Kishi's immortal line, "I knew it was a good idea to let them get bitten by a radioactive Micah Owings in the off-season."
We added all the additional scoring we'd need in the fourth; Reynolds doubled home two runs, then came home himself on a single by Snyder. Jackson completed our scoring, droving in his 21st run of the year with a single in the fifth, and though the Astros made it a two-run game in the eighth, Qualls struck out Berkman to end that inning with a runner on second [14.2 innings without an earned run for the Equallizer, second-most in the majors behind Oakland's Andrew Brown, on 15] and Lyon came in to notch his eighth save with a perfect ninth. That reduced his 2008 ERA to 2.77, and gives him a line over the past ten outings of:
Lyon: 10 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 R, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA, .118 OBA
Those early-season struggles seem well behind him now.
Not a great deal of offense, but enough. Jackson had two hits and a walk, while Reynolds and Drew each reached safely twice, on a double and a free-pass. Can't help feeling we should have scored more, most notably in the eighth, where we loaded the bases with no-one out, thanks to a trio of walks. However, Drew struck out and Snyder hit in to an inning-ending double-play. Still, in the overall scheme of things, it turned out not to matter, and hopefully we will make better use of that opportunity, the next time it arises.
[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Dan Haren [pitching], +20.3%
Honorary mention: Mark Reynolds, +12.7%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Snyder, -6.1%
A brisk Gameday Thread, enlivened by some honored guests from Astros turf: thanks to lnewcomer and Stros Bro for their friendly contributions and tolerance of visiting fans on Crawfish Boxes - a very refreshing change from certain experiences of the past week. Thanks also to the other contributors: soco, snakecharmer, dstorm, dahlian, kishi, SongBird, foulpole, DbacksSkins, LucaMaz3, Stile4aly, Azreous, 4 Corners Fan, mrssoco, hotclaws, britdback and njjohn. Oh, alright - and Turambar as well, who will not be allowed to forget his transgression for quite some time, I suspect!
On a day with minimal NL activity [the Giants beat the Rockies in the only other West action], good to get a jump on the opposition and put a foot forward towards, hopefully, another series win. No sign of Scherzer in the bullpen, but it seems likely that they are waiting to see what happens in Micah Owings' bullpen session tomorrow - any issues there will lead to Scherzer being used as a replacement. Though with EdGon and Randy starting the remaining games in the series, we may well be looking for some long relief tomorrow or Wednesday.