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Diamondbacks 2, Cubs 7 - Qualls for Concern...

Record: 23-14. Pace: 101-61. Change on last season: +3

Let's be honest: this is not a game that we deserved to win. The Cubs putting up a six-spot in the seventh corrected what would otherwise have been one of the biggest thefts of recent times, as we were thoroughly outplayed in most areas. We managed only four hits, all singles [the first time this season]; our defense let the opening run score from first on a single; and Qualls and Medders combined to cost Scherzer his first major-league win with a horrible, horrible seventh, where the Cubs scored twice as many runs as we've put up in the first two games combined. Yet, somehow, we entered the bottom of that seventh inning with a 2-1 lead; perhaps the sight of Mark Grace lustily singing, "Root, root, root for the Cubbies" put the team off?

I'm going to keep this relatively brief: I am feeling a bit better, having spent just about the entire day in bed, sleeping, but see no point in pushing things too far. I did surface briefly for the game, but gave up on that after Fukudome's homer; I was hoping this would turn out to be some kind of flu-related [or, at least, flu-like-related?] delirium, and I'd wake up to find the game hadn't started. Not to be though. Scherzer looked a lot better today than in his first start, locating his pitches better, getting ahead of hitters, and generally looking a lot closer to the assured performance of his debut than the wobbly rookie we saw earlier in the week. Six innings pitched, five hits, one walk and six K's, with just one un-earned run to show for it.

That run was courtesy of Upton and Snyder: Soriano went first to third on a single, but a combination of Upton booting the ball and then lollygagging the throw back in, meant he steamed around third and headed home. Even then, we would have been alright, as the ball reached our catcher in time, but in making the tag, Snyder dropped the ball. 1-0 Cubs. However, Upton did atone for his blunder later on, unleashing a laser from right to retire Dempster, when he tried to score on an sacrifice fly by Derek Lee, ending the fifth inning. This will happen when you have a 20-year old in right-field. Or indeed, anywhere: they are a baffling mix of brilliance and incompetence.

However, Scherzer stopped the Cubs from scoring any more, and the D-backs came back with two runs in the sixth. Ojeda and Drew singled to lead off, then Jackson and Upton walked, the latter driving in the tying run. Reynolds grounded out to give Arizona a lead they scarcely deserved, but Qualls took care of all that in the seventh. The only batter he retired of the five faced, was the one who sacrifice bunted; there were four hits, and Medders had to rescue him with one out. However, a single and a homer quickly put the game entirely out of Arizona's reach, and we are now looking down the barrel of a sweep, staring at the Cubs' ace tomorrow.

Our offense has gone stone-cold this series, managing three runs on eight hits over the first two games combined, batting .131 in that time and striking out 22 times. Of course, no-one expected us to continue April's torrid pace, but the team that went 20-8 through April 30, is now a pallid 3-6 in May, averaging 4.3 runs/game, compared to 5.9 previously. We could certainly do with some more hitting, though the comforting thing is, we are still actually out-hitting the opposition this month, .282/.257. It mostly seems to have been a failure in the clutch that is costing us, and that should eventually come round. We haven't managed a hit with runners in scoring position this series yet, having gone 0-for-9: that's in contrast to the NLCS, where the Cubs went 2-for-23.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Max Scherzer, +20.2%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Qualls, -51.6%

Pretty quiet in the Gameday Thread, barely a couple of hundred comments: slightly surprising, though my absence didn't help. Should be back in full force tomorrow though. Thanks to those who held the fort in my absence: unnamedDBacksfan, srdmad, 4 Corners Fan, seton hall snake pit, kishi, IndyDBack, Augie's Army, hotclaws, luckycc, dahlian, oklahomasooners, Wimb, DbacksSkins, csktech [welcome! looks like DBBP is back up now!] and TwinnerA. The good news is, dis-spiriting those this loss may have been, it doesn't seem that it'll lose us any more ground, as the Dodgers are 5-0 down to Houston in the seventh. We do need to re-group though, and come back strong tomorrow, as we'll need all our guns blazing to take on the Big Z.