Record: 5-2. Pace: 116-46. Change on last season: 0
Well, well: would you believe it? Here's the MLB home-run leaders, seven games into the season, and topping the charts are two of our own Arizona Diamondbacks. Mark Reynolds and Chris Young, each have four long-balls; oh, and Justin Upton is tied for third on three. To put it another way, each one of our heroic trio, has more homers than the entire roster of the New York Mets to date. Doesn't that make this off-season's demands for a power-bat seem somewhat redundant?
Okay, we can't really expect Special K and Good CY to maintain that pace, and rap out 93 homers each over the course of a season. But this is a team that has, thus far, outscored the opponents by a margin of greater than two to one, plating 40 runs and conceding only 19. Our five wins have been by a total margin of +23; our two losses by a combined score of -2 - thus far, that would be the exact opposite of our modus operandi last season, where we won small and lost big. Still too early to claim that we have slain the Run Differential zombie - but it's looking distinctly unwell, even by the lax health standards of the shambling undead.
The first inning is one to keep you warm on those cold - okay, marginally chilly - Arizona winter nights. Dan Haren mowed down the top third of the Dodgers order, fanning both Martin and Loney. Then, before I had time to adjust the couch cushions into optimal position, Young had walked, an Eric Byrnes triple rolled under the glove of Andruw "I used to be quite good" Jones, and Orlando Hudson singled home Byrnes. 2-0 before the first out, and it was double that later in the inning, when Reynolds sent a bomb into the deep left-field bleachers, almost hitting the new Fatburger sign. The product placement the company received the rest of the game, must have made the company executives deliriously happy.
The offense then left, as quickly as it arrived, choosing to spend the next few innings making sharp left-turns back to the dugout. Fifteen consecutive Diamondbacks, in fact, were retired. Meanwhile, the Dodgers clawed their way back into things, thanks to a Jeff Kent homer, and a horrendous throw from shallow right by Upton, that cleared not only the cutoff man, but also third-base and his backup. All of a sudden, it was a one-run game again, and things were looking decidedly uncomfortable, even if Dan Haren looked pretty good [one earned run, on six hits and no walks over six innings, with five K's - largely because of that filthy splitter]
Then, all of a sudden, with two outs in the sixth, Arizona remembered what those bits of wood were for: the next eight batters went 6-for-7 with a walk, three homers and four RBI. Thanks in particular to Dodgers' pitcher Scott Proctor, who saw his first four pitches dispatched for three hits, two homers and three runs. That, to all intents and purposes, ended the game as a contest, though Tony Peña once again managed to make it interesting. He appears to believe it's necessary to allow the opposition to get men into scoring position before he is allowed to retire any of them. While it seems to work - four innings pitched, zero runs allowed - I can't say it does much for our nerves.
Five players with multi-hit games, led by Justin Upton who had his third three-hit game of the season already. How many three-hit games were recorded by any players under-21 last year? One - by Upton. Doubling up were Young, Byrnes, Hudson and Reynolds, with the last two named driving in three runs apiece, and Special K adding an opposite-field homer in the sixth, on to his monster blast during the first. Conor Jackson went 0-for-4 and, to be honest, looked rather out of sorts; Chris Snyder did walk twice, but remained hitless, even though he was dropped back down to the usual. #8 spot. So much for spring training: he and Chris Burke were incendiary there, yet are now batting a collective .114 [4-for-35].
All told, however, very little to complain about. Qualls, Peña and Slaten combined for three innings of shutout ball: I am a little concerned about the patterns of usage from our bullpen so far. That's Qualls' fifth appearance in seven games; I know he's a workhorse, but it bothers me that he has thrown more innings to date than two of our starting pitchers [Edgar Gonzalez and Doug Davis]. I think we should be looking to stretch out Medders - only two appearances - a bit more, and the same for Slaten, whose appearance tonight was only his second as well. Using Peña in the eighth, with a five-run lead, seemed somewhat profligate.
It was a grand opening day at Chase, with a capacity crowd of over 49,000 on hand to enjoy the unveiling of the NL West banner, and rousing chants of "Beat LA!" could be heard echoing throughout the park at several stages in proceedings. We had a good crowd here too, with some new faces in the Gameday Thread, so particular shout-outs to jsk6788, Frank Squishy and DisplacedAZfan - welcome! Among the (more or less) regulars, we had foulpole, kishi, 4 Corners Fan, soco, rockiesfan4ever, snakecharmer, hotclaws, azshadowwalker, seton hall snake pit, singaporedbacksfan, DbacksSkins, peachy rex, Mr. Philosophical, Azreous, Muu and Turambar.
Four wins in a row, and clear first-place in the division. But as noted in the preview, that was probably the game in the series we should win. I don't think the rest of the series will be as much of a cake-walk as tonight ended up being; however, I'm off to bed, almost entirely satisfied with the way this one went.