Record: 26-15. Pace: 103-59. Change on last season: +5.
Brandon Webb got his ninth win of the season tonight: no-one else in the National League has more than six. It was also his eleventh consecutive victory, a streak only seen once in the National League since they lowered the pitching mound before the 1969 season. This was, however, not a laugher. The ninth inning, in particular, was a masterpiece of tension worthy of Hitchcock himself, even though the Diamondbacks had a five-run lead as they started on the final trio of outs. Courtesy of Brandon Medders, the Rockies loaded the bases on three hits and forced Melvin to turn to closer Brandon Lyon. A chopper off home-plate and everyone was safe, meaning the Rockies had three chances with the tying run at the plate. However, Lyon yanked his belt up another notch, and retired Spilborghs, Barnes and Holliday to complete the sweep over Colorado.
Webb started off in phenomenal form, facing one batter over the minimum through the first five innings, brutalizing the opposing hitters with his usual mix of sinkers and changeups. He did tire somewhat towards the end, and Melvin admitted in his post-game comments that Webb was probably left out there a little too long. He ended up needing to be rescued in the eighth, and allowed three runs on six hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts, in 7.1 innings. It's the longest winning streak in the majors at the start of a season since Andy Hawkins took care of his first ten games for the 1985 Padres. The way Webb pitched early on, it is difficult to see Webb's streak ending anytime soon. His next start will be Wednesday in Florida.
The offense did a good job of responding whenever the Rockies threatened, doing just enough to ensure that the Diamondbacks were never headed. Early on, Cook's sinker was causing almost as many problems for Arizona, as Webb's was for Colorado. But we still took the lead in the first, Orlando Hudson continuing to be red-hot with runners in scoring position, singling home Chris Young, the third of three consecutive hits for the D-backs to start the game. We couldn't quite capitalize any more there, and over the next three innings, we had further chances that went begging: Drew at third with one down in the third, or getting the first two men on base in the fourth. I did start to wonder if we'd end up rueing all these wasted opportunities.
The fifth inning ended these doubts. Back-to-back doubles from Young and Drew made it a 2-0 game, and after a walk to Hudson, Chris Snyder took an 0-2 pitch, and slammed a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers. It was his third long-ball of the week, and he ended the day with two hits, raising his season average to .284. It was good to see him back in the #5 spot in the lineup: while that was probably because of his excellent record against Cook previously, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets to stay there. Over the past month, Snyder is hitting .333/.400/.600, which are the best figures from any of the eight regular starters. Jackson is next, at .330/.406/.532, and Drew third, with a line of .304/.366/.565.
Speaking of Drew, he went 4-for-5, finishing a homer short of the cycle. You could argue a case that he deserved a five-hit night - he reached in the eighth, but it was called an error on the Rockies' second-baseman. That was his second four-hit game against Colorado this season, and he really seems to enjoy facing them, batting a cool .457 versus them this year [16-for-35]. Young, Hudson and Burke also had two hits each, and it didn't seem that the offense missed Byrnes or Jackson, both of whom were given the night off. The Rockies came back in the eighth, getting the tying man to the plate there, and making the score 5-3, but the D-backs added three crucial insurance runs with two outs. Perhaps the most impressive at-bat was from Justin Upton: it looked like Fuentes was trying to hit him, but J-Up simply ripped a triple to the gap in right-center. The two RBI which resulted certainly came in very, very handy during the ninth.
Remarkably, the win came despite no less than four errors by the Diamondbacks. Reynolds and Hudson muffed ground-balls; Hudson also failed to handle a throw from the outfield (though it may have taken a weird bounce off the second-base bag); and Qualls threw the ball wildly to first. I think the last time we committed so many, was August 7th last year, when we lost 8-3 to Pittsburgh. However, that game will be remembered more for Justin Upton's home debut, where he ended a single short of the cycle.
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Co-masters of their domain: Brandon Webb (+20.9%) and Stephen Drew (+21.3%)
God-emperor of suck: Jeff Salazar, -11.3%
That was a lot of fun - although the final couple of innings were better to look back on, once the win had been clinched, than to experience at the time! The victory was thus strangely reminiscent of last year in that way. Present in the Gameday Thread were 4 Corners Fan, unnamedDBacksfan, kishi, Wimb, foulpole, UofAZGrad (welcome!), dahlian, Azreous, DbacksSkins, hotclaws, singaporedbacksfan, visiting fan PinchHitLancePainter, srdmad, frienetic, Stile4aly, likeavirgin, Augie's Army and the late-arriving Turambar who, wisely, managed to avoid getting tagged with the "albatross" label as a result of his delayed showing.
The win runs our record against the West to an extremely-solid 20-5, and keeps our lead over the Dodgers at 4.5 games. We now head into our first encounter with the American League, in the shape of the underperforming Detroit Tigers, currently tied with the Mariners for fewest wins in the AL, I'm sure they will be glad to be missing Webb, but won't be looking forward to facing Arizona, who now have a 17-7 record n our home park. And an early warning. Sunday is KidKaster day. Those who had to endure that hideous ordeal on television last month will understand why I will be ensuring all exits are available from the living-room that day,