Record: 36-31. Pace: 87-75. Change on last season: -1
1.9%. That was our meager chances of victory after Doug Slaten loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. To put this into context, that's smaller than they were at any point last night, when it took Reynolds' last-strike homer to take us into extra innings. But, some how, some way, this team managed to claw its way out of that 50-1 long shot, and take both the game and the series. The Mets blew a four run fifth-inning lead in the opener, a three run, ninth-inning lead yesterday, and a four run, eighth-inning lead today. "Well done! You must get up very early..."
There were too many heroes to mention over the final three innings. Let's start with Edgar Gonzalez: tagged with the loss yesterday, despite allowing no earned runs, he came back out into a thankless situation today. Doug Slaten had sucked, retiring one of the six hitters he faced: two runs scored, to put the Mets 4-0 up, and the bases were still loaded with only one out. David Wright at the plate, and Carlos Beltran in the on-deck circle? No problem. Foul out, fly out, and the Mets were unable to add any more. EdGon also escaped a jam in the eighth, this one of his own making, after putting the first two hitters on.
By then, Arizona had cut the lead in half, thanks to a two-run triple from Mark Reynolds in the top half. However, even though we had stopped the Mets from scoring any more, what chance did we have in the ninth? I mean, Reynolds' heroics last night already meant Billy Wagner had blown back-to-back save chances - something he hadn't done since 2000. What are the odds of him coughing up three in a row? Fortunately, Miguel Montero (walk), Stephen Drew (single), Chris Young (RBI double) and Augie Ojeda (walk) are no respecters of history, making it a one-run game and loading the bases with nobody out. Hudxon grounded out, but they got the lead runner at home on a force-out. Jackson followed with another ground-out, but the leaner, speedier CoJack just beat the throw to first, avoiding the game-ending double-play and scoring the tying run.
Into the bottom of the ninth and Melvin was not fooling about, throwing Brandon Lyon out there in a tied game. A lead-off single for Reyes was a sign of trouble, and our closer loaded the bases before getting ex-Diamondback Damion Easley to ground out and end the inning - good plays from Ojeda and Drew really helped. Into extra innings we went, with Arizona praying there wouldn't be another marathon, as the bullpen was wheezing mightily after last night's heroic failure. Fortunately, Upton doubled to lead off the innings - he was then bunted to third [still a loss of 0.2% on the AZ Win Probability, should you care], and Miguel Montero brought him home with a sacrifice fly to give the visitors a lead for the first time since the opening game of the series.
To protect the one-run lead, Melvin sent Lyon out there for his second inning of work, his first such outing since July 27 of last year. This was a serious roll of the die, since Lyon had already thrown 22 pitches in the ninth, and his longest outing of the season so far was only 25. He got Castro to foul out to first - Jackson making a fine grab over the railing - then allowed a single to the speedy Castillo. By now running on fumes, Lyon coaxed one more pitch from his arm and got the ground-ball double-play that he needed to end the game and get the win. Baseball rules prevent a pitcher from getting a win and a save in the same outing: stupid baseball rules. If ever it was deserved, these two innings were it, stretching his scoreless streak to 25. The thirty-three pitches he threw today has only been surpassed once by Lyon in the past two years, a 35 pitch outing against Boston on June 9 last season. I suspect we won't see much of him in the Kansas series.
Largely overshadowed in the anarchy and chaos of the final reel, was another quality start by Dan Haren. He pitched six innings, and allowed five hits, no walks and two earned runs, with five strikeouts. Even more overshadowed, however, was Johan Santana, who completely shutdown the Diamondbacks over the front seven innings - we managed only three hits while striking out ten times. Against the Mets bullpen, however, it was quite a different story, which continued the overwhelming theme of the entire series. Here's the combined lines for the New York starters and relievers this series - it's a startling separation:
Starters: 20 IP, 13 H, 8 BB, 25 K, 4 R, ERA 1.80
Bullpen: 12 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 12 K, 13 R, ERA 9.75
Young had two hits, Ojeda a pair of walks, Reynolds and Montero each a hit and a walk, while Upton reached safely four times, on a hit and three walks. He also had another outfield assist, nailing Wright at third, though neutral observers would likely say he bore some responsibility for Wright getting past second to begin with. Still, nice to see him getting on base, and we certainly hope he can come out of the slump from hell which has plagued him for so long. Remember when he was batting .326/.395/.530? It was a mere month ago: since then, he has hit only .145, but his on-base percentage over that time is still a credible .324, because J-Up has continued to draw his share of walks.
[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Brandon Lyon, +35.2%
Honorable mentions: Young, +30.0%; Upton, +24.9%, Montero +19.2%, Drew, +11.2%
God-emperor of suck: Orlando Hudson, -24.6%
Once again, five players in positive double-digits, which is good to see. Though let's have a round of sympathetic applause for Johan Santana, who ended up at +41.9%, and was rewarded with a no-decision. In case you're wondering about Hudson, it's almost all down to the force out at home with one down in the ninth, which was worth -18.3% to our chances. Still, the ninth was pretty good to the Diamondbacks in this series, as we scored a total of eight runs there, over the three games.
What was looking like a sparse, runtish Gameday Thread, resurrected itself from the ashes, Phoenix-like, over the final four innings. An overflow thread would have been required, but by executive decision, no potentially mojo-jinxing act was performed. Leave well alone... Present for this thoroughly entertaining comeback were unnamedDBacksfan, foulpole, DbacksSkins, dahlian, Counsellmember, hotclaws, kishi, 4 Corners Fan, Turambar, CPAYNEonaplane, bcloirao, TwinnerA, luckycc, Diamondhacks, emilylovesthedbacks, Muu, Bcawz, dstorm, Azreous, and a friendly, but understandably depressed visitor, LOUtheMETfan.
We end the road trip 4-6, a little below what we hoped, but it's not too bad, especially after we started by getting swept in Milwaukee. With the Dodgers losing [yeah!], it gets the lead back up to 4.5 games - despite our struggles of the past month, Los Angeles have failed to make up any real ground at all. While our lead has varied, it has been between 2.5-5.5 since all the way back on April 28. That said, the rest of the West has been catching up. On May 18, we were 11 clear of Colorado, 11.5 of San Francisco and 12.5 of San Diego - those figures are now 9.5, 6 and 6.5 respectively. It ain't over yet...
Still, it's back home to the friendly confines of Chase, where our home record is behind only the Braves and Cubs. A weekend series against the Royals starts tomorrow - they have the second worst record in the American League, and even if they face the back end of our rotation, I'm looking for the Diamondbacks to take two of the three games. More on that tomorrow - right now, I think I'm off to watch those final two innings once again...