Record: 39-36. Pace: 84-78. Change on last season: -4
Y'know, if we could just avoid coughing up these pesky six-run innings, we'd do a whole lot better. For the second game in a row, we outscored the opposition for the other eight frames, but one brief, disastrous inability to get three outs doomed the Diamondbacks to another defeat. Today, we came into the bottom of the seventh with a fragile 1-0 lead, but the Twins took care of that in short order, sending no less than eleven men to the plate. It started with a bunt single from Mauer, and a double brought that run home - Hudson was charged with an error on that play, as the runner advanced to third. Owings then walked the next batter, and his night was done: he ended with a line of three runs in 6.1 innings, on five hits and a walk.
That's a palpable improvement over his last couple of starts, but he still got tagged with the loss, even though he left with the game tied. This comes to him courtesy of Chad Qualls, and I have to say, it seems another questionable decision by Melvin to bring him in with the go-ahead run on third and only one out - rather than strikeout-machine Juan Cruz, who has got the majority of his outs by the K this year. I presume Melvin was hoping for a ground-ball double-play, as this is an area in which Qualls has done very well [his six is second only to Webb's ten, and Chad obviously has faced many fewer hitters]. That didn't happen, and while the choice of Qualls was somewhat defensible, the decision to leave him out there as the Twins went single, passed ball, double, double, K, single is harder to justify.
Not that it probably made much difference, as the offense continued to sputter and fail. In seven of the past eight games, we've been held to three or less, with the only exception the 11-1 pounding laid on the A's. Even including that drubbing, and with an extra batter in the lineup the past couple of days, we have hit only .220 over that time. In twenty-five games, dating back to May 26, we have scored more than five runs only twice. Remember how bad last month was? Well, the Diamondbacks then were the Bronx Bombers in comparison to this lot:
April: .268/.345/.468, 5.75 runs/game
May: .244/.328/.402, 4.18 runs/game
June: .221/.290/.367, 3.42 runs/game
Our overall batting average has dropped to .247, third-worst in the league: this is particularly notable, because our first-half average in 2007 was .248...and that led to the departure at the All-Star break of hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. This month has seen some ugly lines posted by our position players, and not just Justin Upton, though his .109/.305/.217 line is one only a mother could love [and yes, that's not a misprint: his OBP is eighty-eight points higher than his SLG for June]. Our bench has been particularly unproductive: Salazar, Montero, Romero and Ojeda combined have a BA of .179. Throw in Chris Snyder at .182, and Chris Young with an OBP - not BA, but on-base percentage - of .247, and you'll see where our issues are. Only Reynolds and Jackson have hit worth a lick this month.
Dammit, can someone in the National League West hurry up and go on a run, so that we no longer sit atop the stinking cesspool which is this division? The second-placed Dodgers and the third-placed Giants both lost again today, and today means we set a new franchise record for most consecutive games spent in first, at 69, having been there or tied since April 7. This is a testament to the Gurgling Vortex of Suck (TM) which is the NL West, because we have only gone 35-34 in that stretch. And most of that is thanks to our play in the first month, since we are 11-20 after beating Detroit at Chase in the last round of interleague play.
[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Stephen Drew, +8.5%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Qualls, -27.9%
Dishonorable mention: Conor Jackson, -13.3%
Thanks to those who took part in the Gameday Thread. That would largely exclude me, as we got totally distracted by shiny, DVD-shaped objects. :-) Present were: Muu, Azreous, kishi, Wimb, soco, Zephon, DbacksSkins, TwinnerA, 4 Corners Fan, emilylovesthedbacks, hotclaws, luckycc, LucaMaz3, acidtongue and ChandlerDad, with the last-named getting a special mention for having to pay ten bucks to access the Internet, in order to vent on the Pit. Next time, people can simply send me a check and I will be happy to vent on their behalf.
11:10 am start, Arizona time, for tomorrow's game, and I promise that I will try to be about a bit more for that one. Though if the offense are willing to make the same pledge, I think we will all be a great deal happier. And with that, back to the shiny, DVD-shaped objects.