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Diamondbacks 3, Giants 4: Winn some, lose some

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Record: 30-24. Pace: 90-72. Change on last season: -1

That one hurt. In the first two games, we were never really in them, so the defeat was more inevitable than anything too disturbing or shocking. This one, however, was looking pretty good through the seventh inning, as we held on to a one-run lead, and Randy Johnson just missed out on passing Roger Clemens for second-place on the all-time strikeout leaderboard. He tied Clemens by fanning the first hitter of that inning and seemed to get to two strikes on everyone else he faced, but was obviously running out of gas, and couldn't quite get the final one he needed to overtake The 'Roid Rocket. Still, he was looking good for win #289, if we could only get the last six outs.

Then, enter Peña and Jackson, who each deserve about equal blame for the eighth inning fiasco that followed. I don't think I can quite stomach a full recap, so let's just go with the play-by-play:

T. Pena relieved R. Johnson
A. Rowand flied out to center
B. Molina walked
E. Burriss ran for B. Molina
R. Durham safe at first on first baseman C. Jackson's fielding error,
       E. Burriss to second
O. Vizquel grounded out to first, E. Burriss to third, R. Durham to second
J. Bowker hit by pitch
F. Lewis walked, E. Burriss scored, R. Durham to third, J. Bowker to second
C. Qualls relieved T. Pena

Well done, Conor and Tony! You must get up very early. The Giants scored the tying run without actually - oh, I dunno - needing to get a hit or anything like that, on two walks, an error and Jackson booting what seems like his ten-millionth simple groundball of the year. We could still have escape on Vizquel's hard grounder, but a clearly-rattled Jackson opted to go to first for the simple out, rather than trying to turn the inning-ending double-play. One plunking and a bases-loaded walk later, and exit Win #289, muttering something about beating the traffic.

Okay, so we still had a chance to win, right? Right? Hello? Is this thing on? I suspect that no-one really felt too confident of our chances, and when Randy 'Snake Eater' Winn homered to lead off the Giants' ninth, the reaction seemed to be one more of inevitability and disappointment than anything else. Perhaps it was the seed I planted before the game, pointing out our poor record - now 1-15 - when scoring three runs or less. It never really seemed that three runs would be sufficient to hold off the Giants, any more than it was sufficient to hold them off in the first two games of the series.

[Obscure factoid for the day #1: Hitting. It was actually the fourth consecutive game scoring exactly the same total of runs, so at least we're consistent - albeit consistently inadequate. That sets a new franchise record: we've had a number of three-game streaks with the same offensive output, but this was the first such four-peat. The Diamondbacks still have some way to go to match the 2003 Cleveland Indians, who scored exactly four runs in seven consecutive games between July 12 and July 20.]

Justin Upton continues to show signs of life, getting his first multi-hit game in a couple of weeks, whacking his first homer since May 8, and adding an RBI triple. That's seven bases in all, the most he's had all season, and the first time too that he's had more than one extra-base hit in the same game, so there's hope he's getting back onto track. He did strikeout twice though, and is now ahead of Mark Reynolds in that category. Orlando Hudson continued his hot hitting with two more hits; since coming back from his layoff, he's hitting .396 [21-for-53]. However, he also grounded into his team-leading seventh double-play. Jackson and Reynolds each reached safely twice, with a hit and a walk.

The best thing to come out of the game was, without question, Randy Johnson's outing: seven innings, six hits, two walks and two runs, with those nine strikeouts bringing him level with Clemens on the all-time list at 4,672. It's just a shame he didn't quite manage to reach #2 in front of the home fans, but it seems all but certain he'll do so again the Brewers next week. He showed excellent control, and managed a couple of strikeouts that left the Giants' hitters looking particularly incompetent: one even falling over onto home-plate after striking out. In his past three starts, Johnson has pitched 20 innings, allowed three earned runs and has a K:BB ratio of 24:3.

[Obscure factoid for the day #2: Pitching. The loss dropped Chad Qualls to 0-5; that's the worst start to a career for any Arizona pitcher, since Willie Blair lost his first seven decisions back at the beginning of our inaugural season in 1998. Next up for Qualls: the consecutive loss streak for an Arizona reliever is seven, by Greg Swindell in 2001-02, and then for an Arizona pitcher overall, the 0-11 record by Edgar Gonzalez between September 2003 and June 2006. EdGon also holds the record run of futility by an Arizona starter - the above was part of a streak where he had thirteen losses in 14 outings, but he swiped a couple of relief wins during it]

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[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Randy Johnson, +21.1%
Honorable mention: Justin Upton, +16.7%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Peña, -27.4%
Dishonorable mention: Chad Qualls, -14.8%

Another very busy Gameday Thread, with 'Skins posting his second straight double-century, finishing at 206 posts for the night. soco hit three figures too, and also present were, unnamedDBacksfan, dahlian, hotclaws, mrssoco, victor frankenstein, srdmad, dstorm, foulpole, RAMJB, TwinnerA, peeklay, Wimb, UofAZGrad, acidtongue, luckycc and LucaMaz3. The final tally was over eight hundred; it seems clear that the number of comments has little or no correlation to team performance. But we need to await 'Charmer's doctoral thesis on factors affecting Gameday Thread participation for a full analysis. :-)

I'm thinking maybe it's time to update our slogan: perhaps something along the lines of, "Hey, at least the Dodgers lost again too." For they also dropped their fourth in a row; while our wretched performance sees the Diamondbacks firmly entrenched, at 10-16, in their first losing month since 2006, Los Angeles has managed to catch up exactly one-half game on Arizona since May 2nd. Don't look now, but San Francisco are seven back...though that too is only one-half game closer than they were on May 2nd. Indeed, to prove how little has changed, despite our poor performance, here are the full NL West standings then and now:

Team May 2 May 29
Arizona - -
Los Angeles 4 3.5
San Francisco 7.5 7
San Diego 9.5 9.5
Colorado 9 10

And with that, to bed. I'm trying to talk Azreous into doing the recap for tomorrow night - because, to be honest, after the past three games, my enthusiasm has been stretched painfully thin. The Nationals should present something of an easier challenge, but all hopes of a winning home-stand now lie, like dust in the wind. I just hope that, when we go to Sunday's game, we are not looking to stave off back-to-back sweeps. That may seem unduly pessimistic, but after this series, it doesn't seem utterly implausible.