Record: 2-2. Pace: 81-81. Change on last season: 0
i don't know what the team did on the flight from Cincinnati to Colorado, but whatever it was, clearly worked. Barely 24 hours after being one-hit, Micah Owings, Chad Qualls and Juan Cruz delivered almost the perfect answer, restricting the Colorado Rockies to just two hits. Meanwhile, the bats woke up too, pounding out 13 hits to inflict what I think is the worst defeat the Rockies have ever endured in the 16-year history of Opening Day at Coors Field. If the pre-game NLCS celebrations were designed to get under the skin of the Diamondbacks, then I look forward to them continuing for the rest of the weekend.
Owings was a revelation, particularly in the light of a poor Spring Training campaign, where he allowed 22 hits and 13 walks in only 15.2 innings, for an ERA of 11.32. Really, who would have him then coming to Coors Field, facing a lineup basically unchanged from the one which led the league in BA last year, and restricting them to two hits and one run in 6.2 innings? Oh, and struck out a career-high nine batters, including three from last year's MVP runner-up, Matt Holliday [Cruz also K'd him in the ninth]. Pwnings retired 17 straight batters at one point, and said afterwards, "I felt good today about my command and felt good all around. I felt good about my guys behind me and the offense put up that 3-spot behind me and that helped a lot."
"That 3-spot" would be the first inning, where we sprung out to an early lead, with Chris Snyder giving us an RBI single, and Mark Reynolds adding a two-run double, as we sent eight to the plate, almost getting Owings a chance to bat before he pitched. That set the tone for the afternoon, as we scored runs in six different innings. Reynolds added a solo homer in the fifth, giving him three RBI on two hits for the day, as well as a walk. Orlando Hudson had two hits, and Justin Upton had a homer among his three hits in one game, the latter for the first time since his home debut last August 7, when he was a single short of the cycle.
Of particular note, Chris Young reached safely three times on two walks and a hit. It's the walks that are impressive: he has five so far, which is the same number he had on May 4 last year, not April 4. [In 2007, he had five BB in his first 106 PA's - this year, it's taken him just nineteen] He may only be hitting .214, but we'll happily take an OBP of .421 out of the leadoff spot, so good work there, Chris. This performance was also without the presence of Conor Jackson, missing once again with what is now officially "flu", rather than "flu-like" - Chris Burke again took over at first. Jackson was apparently available as a pinch-hitter today, though was hardly needed, and I imagine he'll be back in the lineup tomorrow, since he's 7-for-23 with four homers against Rockies starter, Jeff Francis.
About the only one to miss out on the fun was Stephen Drew, 0-for-5 with two K's; he batted eighth. Even Eric Byrnes - booed lustily before the game, by Rockies' fans who haven't forgotten his "I also don't think the Rockies have outplayed us, because they haven't" comments during the NLCS - got a double, though that still leaves his average thus far languishing alongside Drew at .125. Still, beats the Rockies [and it certainly did today!], who now have six regulars hitting below the Uecker line after the first four games, led by Holliday's 1-for-14. Of course, early-season stats are a funny thing: Upton is on pace to lead the team in homers. With 81.
Still, quote of the day goes to visiting fan, Silverblood. "Can you guys pleas stop this?? Please??! We are sorry we beat you in the NLCS! This isn't even fair, it's like you're playing the.... Casper Ghosts, we suck so badly right now. Can you just please get yourselves out and end this abortion of a game faster?!! Dear god. This is AWFUL. You are kicking us up, down, and sideways, we are so terrible right now." Oh, things aren't so bad: it's only four games, and you are exactly one behind us. Still, thus far, the Rockies seem like a pale shadow of the 20-in-21 team, and have been outscored thus far by a margin of 20-6. And you're facing Brandon Webb tomorrow. Have fun with that. :-)
Thanks to Devin [aka kishi] for starting the Gameday Thread off for me, as I'd blown off the alleged start time provided by the system here as fictitious - no way we'd play two day games in a row, surely! Er, oh yes, there is... Devin, you've now been granted "authorship" privileges, so if it happens again, you can now post stories on to the front page here! Present down the line were Craig from Az, kishi, seton hall snake pit, dstorm, hotclaws, jweech [welcome!], Russ, bcloirao, TwinnerA, peachy rex, Captain D Bag, singaporedbacksfan, 4 Corners Fan, DiamondbacksWIn, Wactivist, Mr. Philosophical, Silverblood, Azreous and soco. I see the Republic are posting a "live game chat" too. Final tally of comments there: 15. Maybe i should go invite people here?
Forgot to mention Randy Johnson's first rehab start down in Tucson, pitching in the Sidewinder's opener. The results weren't much to write home about, as the Big Unit allowed eight hits, two walks and five runs, in four innings, with the only strikeout that of the opposing pitcher. On the plus side, he had a two-run single in the first, and then was walked on four pitches in his next at-bat, so perhaps he's been taking lessons from Micah. Afterwards, Johnson was blunt: "I didn't feel obviously too good about the performance, the amount of
effort that it took to get through four innings... I'd like to think
things will improve a little bit from a pitching perspective and I get
my amount of work in that I need to get in spread over six innings or
five innings." Next, and hopefully final, rehab start for Johnson is on the 8th.
i look forward to actually, perhaps, seeing some of tomorrow's game: thus far, it's been very hard to do so. The only one I've been able to watch thus far was Opening Day, and I had to take off work in order to do that! This may explain why the stories so far have felt, at least to me, more like recaps of the boxscore than an eyewitness report. Should prove a little easier tomorrow and Sunday, so see you there.