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Diamondbacks 2, Marlins 3 - Or, Rotten 2, Fish 3

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Record: 28-17. Pace: 101-61. Change on last season: +4

This is one of those games that we certainly should have wrapped up and taken back to the hotel with us. Though certainly not helped by the inconsistent strike-zone being called by home-plate umpire Dale Scott [not least, a 3-1 pitch with the bases loaded to Byrnes, that was called a strike], this is not a game the Marlins won, so much as one that we lost. We seemed to do a great job of creating chances to blow the game open...then do an utterly impeccable job of frittering them away. Lead-off double? Get caught trying to steal. Man on third, nobody out? He'll be tagged out making a dubious attempt to score on a ground-ball to third. Bases loaded, one out? How about back to back K's. No opportunity left unscorned tonight.

This was an immensely frustrating performance, there's no denying that. We had more trouble with Hendrickson than we should have, especially first time through the order where we were 0-for-9 with four K's. The Marlins took the lead in the third on a broken-bat bloop that turned into an RBI double, because it came with two outs. However, the Diamondbacks fought back, getting a double from Young to start the fourth inning, only to see him nailed trying to take third, thereby breaking #6 of baseball's unwritten rules. [It'd be interesting to see how many of these we've violated already this season.] This was particularly aggravating as he'd have scored two batters later on O-Dawg's double - instead, all we managed there was Jackson's sacrifice fly.

Still, we'd tied the game. That lasted precisely two outs, as Dan Uggla - a man with one stolen-base this season, and two in all of 2007 - showed how it should be done, swiping second, then coming home on an RBI single by another former D-back, one Luis Gonzalez. No matter, since back to back singles from Byrnes and Reynolds put runners on the corners for Arizona with no-one out in the fifth. This time, we surely have to score. Not so fast: Byrnes got caught off third in a rundown, and then, with some more help from Dale "I bleed Marlin Blue" Scott, Owings and Young both struck out. All told, we had 13 K's on the night, the second-highest tally of the year: Upton had four and Owings three, with Snyder and Jackson the only starters to avoid them.

The Marlins extended their lead to 3-1 on a homer by Uggla - his 14th of the season. I think letting Uggla go has to be right up there with trading Quentin away for a bag of balls, as Josh Byrnes' biggest mistake. Albeit seen with 20/20 hindsight, of course. But if we had him at second-base, we would certainly not have to worry about what to do when Hudson hits free-agency. Snyder brought us a little bit closer with his fourth of the season, a solo shot in the seventh. And we then had another chance in the eighth, loading the bases on three walks, with only one out in the eighth. More strikeouts ensued, and our last, best hope vanished, though Byrnes can certainly be excused for saying, "There were some calls that were obviously questionable. No kidding: I think we should go out there tomorrow and try to plunk the umpire...

Somewhat lost in the mess was a very solid outing by Owings, who pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out a career-high ten. He also threw 113 pitches, which is the second-most he's ever thrown: it helped give our bullpen another day of rest, with only Tony Peña called upon. He pitched a scoreless eighth. That was Micah's seventh quality start in his nine outings. Here's how all our starters rank up:

Haren: 8 out of 9
Webb: 8 out of 9
Owings: 7 out of 9
Johnson: 2 out of 7
Gonzalez: 1 out of 6
Scherzer/Davis: 2 out of 5

Can't knock #1-3, because they have given us 23 quality starts in 27 attempts. The back-end of the rotation, who've gone 5-for-18...not so much. Still, all told, the 28 quality starts is the most in the National League, with the Padres next, on 25. Our ERA is still best in the league too. No, of late, it's been the offense which has been struggling: as well as Byrnes (batting .133 this month), May has not been kind to Reynolds (.214) and Jackson (.231). Snyder (.366) and Hudson (.444) have been doing much of the heavy lifting recently.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Orlando Hudson, +21.8%
God-emperor of suck: Justin Upton, -28.1%
Dishonorable mention: Chris Young, -26.0%

An understandably phlegmatic Gameday Thread, which began with such hope and optimism, only to peter out into rancor and self-recrimination. About the only light I can bring, is that we really didn't deserve to win this one, and as I just pointed out to acidtongue in his diary, if we can play that badly, and only lose by one run, we aren't in bad shape. Present were DbacksSkins, manphibian, Bcawz, njjohn, Zephon, Augie's Army, UofAZGrad, 4 Corners Fan, Wimb, hotclaws, TwinnerA, kishi, SongBird, foulpole, TuLoRocks2008, IndyDBack, Phoenix Stan, dahlian, Turambar, srdmad and Azreous.

Tomorrow is another day. And, it's not just any other day, it's one where we have Brandon Webb on the mound, looking to win his twelfth consecutive start. Got to feel good about that.