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Diamondbacks 3, Mets 5 - From Hero to Zero

Record: 35-31. page: 86-76. Change on last season: -2

2.6%. That was our meager chances of victory at the end of the eighth, as the Mets coasted along with a three-run lead, a starting pitcher who'd posted nothing but zeros and, in case of any difficulty, a closer with a 1.08 ERA ready to go in the bullpen. This was not a game the Diamondbacks should ever have won. Of course, this was not a game the Diamondbacks did win - but the eventual loss took about 4.5 more innings to complete that we expected.

I can't work out if that's a good thing or not: the two out, two strike, three-run homer which Reynolds smacked to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth was certainly a moment to savor [Not least for the sight of the Mets fans, who looked like they'd just learned the Mets had been bought out and would now be the Triple-A affiliate for the Yankees. I loved the subsequent shot of home fans wearing paper-bags on their heads, with 'The Tickets Were Free' scrawled on them. That's the kind of gallows humor I adore] But with hindsight, the cynic in me mutters that he should just have whiffed, and saved us all a lot of bother. To quote John Cleese from Clockwise: "I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand."

Our bullpen certainly took a hell of a beating, pitching for 7.2 innings and allowing four hits and no earned runs. They posted nothing but zeroes from the sixth through the twelfth, with everyone bar Slaten and Lyon seeing action. The thirteenth, when the Mets clinched it, was keyed by a one-out error by ninth-inning hero, Reynolds. He bobbled a sharp but eminently fieldable ground-ball; one batter later, Delgado launched a pitch from Edgar Gonzalez into the bleachers, and the game was over. Arizona certainly had their chances during the bonus baseball too, likely none better than the top of that inning, where we had men on first and second with one out. However, Jackson grounded into a double-play, and we never got back to the plate.

Arizona's relievers were forced into much earlier action than we'd like, Brandon Webb being taken out after five innings. That was, I suspect, thanks almost entirely to being plunked in the kidneys by a comebacker from Delgado in the fourth. That was when the Mets did all their damage until two outs into the fateful thirteenth inning. The problem started with Jose Reyes getting the benefit of a very dubious call at first base, breaking up Webb's no-hitter with a bunt single, though replays showed he was actually out. [Did the commissioner send down a memo ordering the officials to go easy on the big-market team, for the sake of TV ratings? Oh, my mistake - i forgot that this isn't the NBA...] An error by Webb put runners on the corners with no outs, and by the time Webb finally escaped, the Mets had a 3-0 lead. That was it for them over the next nine innings.

Not that our offense fared better, last night proving the truth of Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in hitter's clothing, but inwardly they are slumping Diamondbacks." [That's from the Josh Byrnes Revised Edition, of course] Normal service was resumed with a vengeance in the front eight, where we managed only four hits and two walks off Mike Pelfrey - whom we had tattooed all over Chase Field, less than six weeks previously. We also went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position over that period, and things looked decidedly bleak as we entered the ninth. However, Drew led off with a single and, though that merely brought in Billy Wagner, Jackson added a one-out double. Another strikeout later, Reynolds came up and it looked like he got nicked by a pitch to load the bases, but didn't get the call [That commissioner's memo...]

Barely had Arizona fans time to start fulminating over that, when Mark Reynolds rendered it moot, crushing a full-count pitch into the left-field bleachers, for his fifteenth homer of the season. Rarely has the name 'Special K' been more appropriate. He went 1-for-5, with the hit being his three-run jack, and the other four at-bats all resulting in him taking his lumber back to the dugout with him. Elsewhere in the lineup, results were mixed.  Hudson had three hits, Drew and Jackson two apiece - though we are looking at six at-bats apiece, and the overall K:BB ratio of 15:3 was distinctly unsatisfactory. The bottom half of the order were particularly limp, outside of Reynolds' blast, with slots #5-8 going a combined 2-for-16 with two walks and eight strikeouts.

One of the surprises was seeing Conor Jackson make his second start at left-field in the majors, the first being July 16 last year against Milwaukee. if not perhaps silky smooth, he performed perfectly acceptably there, given the situation. Jackson was a left-fielder coming up, and converted to first-base before the 2005 season, so don't be surprised if we see more of him there in future. Melvin initially said it was just for today, but then backtracked somewhat when asked it was definitely a one-off. "Just looking for a way to get both bats in there," Bob said, referring to Jackson and Tracy. "More than anything, I was playing for today, and we'll see how it plays out." Jackson was even vaguer about his future prospects: "I don't know, the discussions haven't even been discussed." I'm still working out what that means...

[Click to enlarge in new window]
Master of his domain: Chad Qualls, +28.6%
Honorable mention: Mark Reynolds, +19.4%
God-emperor of suck: Conor Jackson, -23.6%
Dishonorable mention: Chris Young, -21.9%

A particularly interesting Fangraph there, and the accompanying statistics are too. You'd expect Mark to rule this one, based on the +34.9% for his ninth-inning heroics. However, the other four at-bats - all K's - chipped away at that, to the level where he was surpassed by Chad Qualls' two scoreless innings in a tied game. His strikeout to end the eleventh with a runner on first, for example, was worth -6.7%. Jackson's double-play which ended the thirteenth, is the cause of his sucktitude, whacking 22.1% off our chances. On the other hand, EdGon's coughing up of the homer [-43.4%] is somewhat negated by his scoreless twelfth [+14.3%] and he ends up at "only" -21.4%.

And into an overflow thread we went, as this one dragged on towards the four-hour mark. Shame we couldn't have ended with a better result. Still, thanks to those who showed up - which would largely exclude the Diamondbacks' offense then. :-( Those attending were: Muu, emilylovesthedbacks, DbacksSkins, Zephon, foulpole, dahlian, kishi, hotclaws, TwinnerA, CPAYNEonaplane, bcloirao, srdmad, Diamondhacks, Augie's Army, 4 Corners Fan, dstorm, SongBird and mrssoco. emily wins the Comment of the Day award, after she abandoned Conor Jackson's appearance on The Eric Byrnes Show: "I’ll just stick to watching them run around in the tight pants… They’re much more attractive when they don’t talk."

Much debate also on the wisdom of leaving Lyon sitting on the bench in a tied game as we went through extra innings. I'm unsure on that one: if we'd used him earlier, I wouldn't have felt very happy relying on EdGon to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of extra innings. Morning game tomorrow [AZ time], so remember that when planning your days. And oh, look: the Dodgers lost...