Record: 22-11. Pace: 108-54. Change on last season: +6
A little bit delayed: there was some scheduled maintenance on the SB Nation sites last night, that was supposed to start at 11pm Arizona, but when I went to the site a few minutes before that to put up a stub report, the maintenance was already under way. :-( I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and have got up extra early this morning in order to get everything posted.
I didn't get to see much of the game this evening, but I think I witnessed the most important chunk. That would be the five-run fourth inning, capped off by Drew's three-run homer that put us up 6-2. However, the most impressive at-bat was probably that of Randy Johnson, who was walked...with the bases loaded...on four pitches, earlier in the inning. That tied the score at two and meant that Chris Young's groundout didn't end things, giving Drew the chance for his blast. That was Johnson's first RBI since October 2nd, 2004, and also the Big Unit's first-ever walk with the bases loaded. I'm sure Charlie Manuel was spitting-mad at Adam Eaton for doing that: Johnson, a career .126 hitter. How do you miss a five-foot high strikezone?
About the only other thing I saw was a brilliant piece of defense by Upton, after Jackson dropped a towering foul pop-up. J-Up picked up the ricochet and hurled an absolute strike to second-base, where the ball was able to hang around, file its nails, gaze at its watch and await the eventual arrival of the runner. An early contender for play of the year, I'd say; it looked so well-oiled, it seemed almost as if Jackson and Upton had drawn that up deliberately as a trick play. Looking at the comments in the Gameday Thread, looks like Byrnes also had a decent one earlier on in proceedings, but I didn't see that.
Johnson was...okay. He gave up a couple of long-balls - that's four in 26.2 innings this year, definitely above his average, both career-wise and in the last few seasons, but lasted six innings, allowing six hits, two walks and striking out six. Said Johnson, "I felt great at the beginning of the game. It’s probably the best I’ve felt all year as far as my back, my presence out there. Then I just lost my control a little bit and got a little frustrated with the execution of some of my pitches." The win was his 286th, tying him for 27th on the all-time list with Robin Robert. Who? Seven-time All-Star, played for the Phillies in the 1950's. Best year was probably 1952, when he went 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA and threw thirty complete games. The six K's leave him 28 behind Roger Clemens for second in that category, so assuming the Rocket doesn't come back, Johnson should overtake him about the end of May.
We were outhit by the Phillies 9-7, and those hits went for a lot more more bases than ours, 17-11. However, the key difference is the walks: we only had one more than our opponents, but all three of Arizona's came in that fifth inning, two coming around to score and the third was Johnson's bases-loaded pass. In the absense of Hudson, Stephen Drew was moved up to the #2 spot, and delivered, adding another hit to his clutch homer. Judging by Melvin's comments on the post-game show, I think we can expect Drew to be staying toward the top of the order. That's because Orlando Hudson is not going to be in the lineup for a few days, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up going on the disabled list. He had an MRI on his dodgy hamstring and the results revealed "a little bit of a strain".
According to Melvin, the outlook is cloudy: it could be anywhere from 2-10 days. Can we cope with a slightly-shorter bench, or should we just bite the bullet and DL Hudson? We do have Burke and Ojeda who can cover in his absence, but this is a tough stretch of games coming up, and I'm not sure we don't need all 25 roster spots. Not sure who we might pull up from Tucson as a replacement: maybe Emilio Bonifacio, who is batting .320 in Triple-A for the Sidewinders? Might be nice to get another left-handed bat; Trot Nixon is at .319, but he is pretty much limited to first-base. As an aside, Chad Tracy began his rehab assignment in Tucson last night, playing and batting third against Nashville, but went 0-for-4. It's thought the D-backs want him to get about 40 at-bats before activation, so that's likely about two weeks, so he won't be of any use in the Hudson situation.
Present in last night's thread were DbacksSkins, foulpole, kishi, hotclaws, Wimb, TwinnerA, RAMJB, soco, luckycc, dahlian, LucaMaz3, singaporedbacksfan, NewJackCity, Muu, snakecharmer, unnamedDBacksfan, likeavirgin, 4 Corners Fan, Stile4aly, mrssoco, srdmad and IndyDBack. Thanks to them, and in particular to those who kept our visiting fan in check: yes, posting here only when something good happens to your team, or something bad to us, does count as trolling. I have also added Wimb's diary to the Greatest Pits section, so it's been permalinked: Recommended Fanposts only show up in that section for a certain time after creation, regardless of updates, it would seem. I just have to remember to keep going in there every month and re-enabling the comments.