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Diamondbacks 3, Royals 8: A Royal Hammering

Record: 37-33. Pace: 86-76. Change on last season: -3

"Being a Dad is like managing a baseball team. Sometimes you just gotta find yourself a decent pitcher, and hope for the best." So went a Father's Day card I got today - and, to be honest, the past couple of games have certainly made me feel like breaking out the beers, simply so I could have something to sob into. The team with the second-worst record in the American League came into Fortress Chase, where we'd previously considered ourselves fairly impregnable, and took two out of three, outscoring the Diamondbacks by the combined score of 20-7.

Hard to say where blame needs to be laid for this fiasco. Was is the pitching staff, who allowed the Kansas City batters to hit at a .322 clip over the series, with a resulting ERA of 8.68? Or was it the hitters' fault, since they batted .182 with six RBI in the three games, and went 4-for-22 with runners in scoring position? In all likelihood, both were equally wretched, and that disturbs me most about this series. When we weren't hitting previously, our pitching was often good enough to keep us in the game, but - with the obvious and honorable exception of Doug Davis - that was definitely not the case with Johnson yesterday and Owings today. Their combined line: 9.2 innings, resulting in 18 hits and 14 earned runs.

My alarm bells are ringing. Since May 26, or four complete turns round the rotation, our starting pitchers not named "Webb" have exactly one win in their sixteen appearances. That was by Dan Haren on June 1. Here are the records of everyone over that time, with four games per pitcher:
    Brandon Webb: 2-1, 2.84 ERA, 25.1 innings
    Dan Haren: 1-1, 3.46 ERA, 26 innings
    Doug Davis: 0-2, 4.98 ERA, 21.2 innings
    Randy Johnson: 0-3, 6.17 ERA, 23.1 innings
    Micah Owings: 0-3, 9.95 ERA, 19 innings
The figures pretty much speak for themselves, but the fact that starters #3-5 have an 0-8 record, and our rotation overall has three wins in twenty attempts... Good pitching may trump good hitting, but at the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, you're going to need one or the other, if you want to win games. We're not getting either.

This is averaging less than six innings per start [5.77, to be exact], and that's putting a terrible load onto the bullpen, especially when you include the extra-inning games we've played of late. You see the results in this series, where Billy Buckner is shuttled up from Tucson, burned for a couple of days and then tossed back on the I-10, to be replace by the next random Triple-A pitcher with a fresh arm. Today, it was Leo Rosales: to no-one's surprise [except perhaps foulpole, who regarded Tucson as a mine of untapped wealth], he pretty much sucked, allowing four hits and two walks in 1.2 innings, and having to be bailed out by Doug Slaten. Thanks for the help, Leo: the bus leaves from behind Chase in ten minutes.

Meanwhile, Gil Meche and his 3-8 record, becomes the latest pitcher made to look really, really good by your 2008 Arizona Diamondbacks. The shake-up at the top of the order proved completely fruitless this afternoon, with Drew, Upton and Hudson combining to go 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts. O-Dawg was particularly brutalized, going 0-for-4 with four K's for the first time in his career [he had a four K game back on April 16, 2003, but also had a ground-out that day]. Twelve strikeouts in total, with the only walk going to Mark Reynolds; this adds on to the 7:0 K:BB ratio from yesterday. Jackson had a couple of hits, but the sign in the stands that said, "Our lineup has nine hitters - does yours?" was almost pathetically inappropriate today. Three would have been closer to the mark this afternoon.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Mark Reynolds, +2.8%
God-emperor of suck: Micah Owings, -27.5%

Despite - or, perhaps more likely, because of - the ineptitude which ran through this afternoon's performance, like a stick of Blackpool rock [Wikipedia is your friend...], the Gameday Thread was lively and wide-ranging. Indeed, perhaps a bit too lively; generally, people should remember a) not to take stuff too seriously, and b) in particular, not to take DbackSkins seriously. ;-) He is, after all, the Orlando Hudson of Gameday Threads. Thank you for your co-operation in this matter. Present in addition to him were kishi, LucaMaz3, hotclaws, soco, mrssoco, unnamedDBacksfan, seton hall snake pit, luckycc, dahlian, emilylovesthedbacks, Muu, DiamondbacksWIn, TwinnerA, srdmad, 4 Corners Fan and Counsellmember.

Dodgers lost. Padres lost. Giants lost. So, no great damage done today, and we will remain 5.5 games clear in the division, still the biggest margin of any division leader. The National League West went 4-11 in this round of games against the American League, with only the Rockies managing to take their series. But want to know something really scary? Arizona has won just two games this year against teams who are currently at or over the .500 mark: that was the split of the four-game set in Philadelphia. Otherwise: the Cubs, Marlins and Brewers all swept us, leaving the Diamondbacks with a 2-11 record against "good" outfits.

While it's fortunate that the schedule has been so kind to us this far, 13 of our next 16 are against winning teams [and the other, Minnesota, is at 36-38], the same number as we had in the first seventy games. It promises to be a stern test of our credentials as a contender. Off-day tomorrow though; we'll have the usual random thread for posts and chat.