Record: 38-34. Pace: 86-76. Change on last season: -3
"It is more blessed to give than receive..." -- Acts 20:35.
"...particularly where routs are concerned." -- the Apocrypha of Melvin.
For the first time in franchise history, the Diamondbacks went from losing a game by ten runs, to winning their next contest by double-digits. The overall turnaround of 24 runs [from -14 to +10] smashed the previous best of 21, set May 13-14, 2005 in Colorado, where we went from a 15-4 defeat to a 10-4 win in consecutive games. I take back all the horrid things I muttered to Mrs. SnakePit about this team in the past 24 hours: while at The Sets last night, on the journey home, reading the paper this morning and before this evening's game. Yeah, I was, at least, busily upset by the wretched performances of the previous three nights.
Games like tonight, however, are a reminder of how ephemeral both success and failure are in baseball. There can't be many other sports where a team can go from being a Gurgling Vortex of Suck [TM] to an Irresistible Force of Good so quickly, or with such startling results. After Haren got out of having a man on third with one out in the top of the first, the offense took over: Drew, Jackson [out of the cleanup spot for the first time this year - I think we'll see him there again tomorrow!], Hudson and Tracy all got hits, and Chris Young followed with a three-run homer, his thirteenth of the season, to get our Win Probability up to 89% at the end of the first inning.
After taking a breather in the second, we loaded the bases for Haren in the third thanks to an intentional walk from Blanton to get to our pitcher. After a nine-pitch plate appearance his previous at-bat, Dan took this affront from his former team-mate very seriously. He smacked a bases-clearing double to deep right-center, that ran our lead to eight runs, and effectively ended this game as a meaningful contest before the end of the third inning. But you want more? Oh, alright - how about an RBI double from Salazar, and then a two-run homer by Drew, his tenth? That made the score 11-0 in the fifth.
This did mark the end of our scoring for the night. However, the fifteen hits and eleven runs for the home team, each tied season highs for the Diamondbacks; it's the first time we've reached double-figures for both, in the same game, since the 10-4, 15-hit victory on May 3 over the Mets. The total haul of 26 bases [two homers, five doubles and eight singles] was also the best total since we had 27 [four homers, a triple, a double and six singles] against the Dodgers on April 7. Drew, Hudson and Tracy each enjoyed themselves, with a trio of knocks; Young had two hits; and Jackson and Salazar each reached safely twice, with a hit and a walk.
Equally as good was Dan Haren on the mound, who allowed four hits and one walk over seven innings of work, while striking out eight. He was exquisitely in control, painting the corners of the strike-zone with a devastating repertoire of quality pitches - there was barely a single ball hit hard until ex-Diamondback Carlos Gonzalez got hold of one in the seventh, as Haren finally began to tire. The shutout ended there, but that just allowed Cruz to come in and strike out the A's in the eighth - around a hit by pitch [and if I had to pick a guy to get plunked by, Famine would be very low on the list]. That's 41 strikeouts in 27 innings for our skinny flamethrower now. And Qualls got another K in the ninth, ensuring everyone at Chase went home with a coupon for a free Thirstbuster.
Damn, we were good, and the most heartening thing was being reminded that this team is capably of playing really, really high-quality baseball. Whether this will have any significant effect on the team as a whole, I'm less certain: there have been false dawns before, such as the 11-1 clubbing of the Braves - which was immediately followed by six losses in the next seven games. Or even the two late victories over the Mets, that foreshadowed only the cringeworthy performances of Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. But if there was a time that we needed a big win, this was certainly it: I love the fact that the team came right back after having their asses seriously kicked, and opened their own can of Austin 3:16 on the opposition. Which is just about where I came in, I think. :-)
Okay, I'm going to get this up here, as we have to go and watch Sweeney Todd - no, not the Tim Burton one, but a BBC version with Ray Winstone in the title role. Should be fun. Needless to say, this was a very upbeat and cheerful Gameday Thread - as it should be - so thanks to everyone who joined me there: emilylovesthedbacks, DbacksSkins, Wimb, kishi, luckycc, LucaMaz3, dahlian, hotclaws, TwinnerA, seton hall snake pit, Craig from Az, frienetic, snakecharmer, mrssoco and Zephon. Look forward to an eye-witness report from emily on her return. I think we'll all sleep a great deal better tonight than we did yesterday - and I am pretty sure, so will the Diamondbacks. Here's to more of the same in tomorrow's matinée finale.