Record: 21-11. Pace: 106-56. Change on last season: +5
For the first ever, I am writing the game recap while it's still taking place. This was pretty much an abomination on a whole number of levels. We came into it with such high expectations, but the reality check came hard and fast, as first-round pick Max Scherzer was cruelly exposed. By the end of three innings, Scherzer had allowed seven hits, a walk, a hit batter and thrown a wild pitch as, with the aid of some more sloppy defense, Arizona had dug themselves a 5-1 hole - one from which they never looked remotely like escaping. Instead, this turned into amomg the biggest drubbings of the season to date. Not quite what we were hoping for, then...
After his debut, certain posters disagreed with me (using various degrees of sarcasm) for questioning whether Scherzer was quite ready, mentally, to face major-league hitting. It gives me no pleasure to say, "I told you so." He has a nice fastball, to be sure, touching 98 mph, but that isn't enough to get you past a lineup of major-league hitters who have a scouting report, particularly when you can't throw anything else for a strike. They just sit, wait for the fastball, and dispatch it as appropriate. In contrast, Jamie Moyer was nowhere near Scherzer's raw stuff - if he threw anything that touched 90 mph, I must have missed it - but hit his spots, mixed things up, and kept our batters off-balance for seven flummoxing innings. The difference was, Moyer pitched, while Scherzer just threw.
A few words on our defense: hang on, let me just look up "inadequate" in my thesaurus. Drew made his fourth error, Reynolds his seventh - the latter is now on pace to make 35 this season. Now, I'm the first to say that errors are not a great measure by which to judge...well, anything much, but I think it can hardly be argued that he's been done a dis-service. Another four unearned runs were coughed up by the defense today, giving us 25 on the year to date, tied for the most in the majors. Someone who looked extremely uncomfortable out there today was Orlando Hudson. Despite claims to the contrary, he was very clearly not back to full health; his appearance yesterday was not misleading there. As Mark Grace said, would we rather have Augie Ojeda out there at 100%, or Orlando Hudson at 50%?
Because "50%" is an adequate description of O-Dawg's pace down the first-base line as he grounded into a double-play in the sixth. We'd got the first two on, after singles by Young and - hey! - Byrnes [it's a sad day when the most well-paid player on your roster going 1-for-4 is a pleasant surprise...], and with the score only 5-1 at that point, we had a chance to come back into the game. However, Hudson killed the rally, with extreme prejudice, and the Phillies poured on another four runs in the next half-inning.
Scherzer did get through the fourth without further issue, but had to be lifted, having reached his pitch count - he finished on 92. Ironically, it was Edgar Gonzalez who took over in long-relief, reversing the roles which the two played last week. EdGon posted zeros for two innings, but then gave up the aforementioned four-spot in the seventh, mostly because an ill-advised dive by Upton missed the ball entirely, turning it into a bases-clearing triple. What little was left of our Win Probability at that stage - and it was already down to 5.7% - made its excuses and bolted off to beat the traffic, as that made the score 9-1 to Philadelphia. Slaten and Medders completed the mop-up duty necessary.
We made the score fractionally more respectable by scoring two runs in the ninth, and somehow managed to get eleven hits. On the other hand, we went without a single walk, for the first time in 67 consecutive games (including the post-season), going back to August 29th last year. Young, Upton and Drew had two hits each, and Snyder swatted his second homer of the year. Our catcher is quietly getting back into the groove we expected: after hitting a startling .083 through the first ten games, Snyder put together a line of .326/.421/.587 before tonight's bomb, and has reached base safely, with a hit or a walk, in seventeen consecutive starts. [In three games, he came in as a late-inning replacement] It may be time to think about moving him back up the order, especially considering the struggles of some of our other hitters.
Don't look now, but the Dodgers hammered the Mets and are only three games behind us. Somehow, we still have the best win percentage in the major-leagues, but can anyone honestly say it feels like that right now? Certainly, many more nights which combine bad starts, poor hitting and defensive mis-handling, and we won't even have the best record in the division... Fascinating thread over at DBBP, where Levski discusses the team problems., that I commend to all interested parties. It's not time to panic yet, but if Hudson, Byrnes and Owings continue to be run out there hurt, then the comfy cushion which we built up in April may soon be replaced, by the cold, hard plastic found in a doctor's waiting-room...
I'll confess, I bailed out of this one early, and wouldn't blame anyone else who did so too. We ended a little short of 500 on the night: thanks to foulpole, dahlian, soco, snakecharmer, RAMJB, hotclaws, DbacksSkins, 4 Corners Fan, Turambar, unnamedDBacksfan, pvlas [welcome], LucaMaz3, TwinnerA, Muu, kishi, srdmad, Azreous, mrssoco, TexSkins and likeavirgin [I'm confused...but welcome!]. soco gets the award for Commentor of the Game, with more posts than anyone else [thanks to 'charmer's roll-call script, I can now see these things!], but picked up the evening's only recommendation for his stalwart defense of the beautiful game. :-)
And off to bed. Here's to better things tomorrow, though with a Randy Johnson start, I think I can hear the bullpen wheezing...