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Diamondbacks 2, Red Sox 1: Dan's the Man

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Record: 40-37. Pace: 84-78. Change on last season: -4

There's a lot to be said for unbridled pessimism. After the dismal muggings we received in Minnesota, where the Twins snuck up on the Diamondbacks from behind, and whacked them over the head with an inning full of runs, I was entirely convinced that we were going to get our asses seriously kicked in Boston. After all, the Red Sox are only the reigning World Series champions and possessors of the best record in baseball this year. Plus, in Josh Beckett, they were sending to the mound, the only guy in the AL to win twenty games last season. What chance did the miserable Arizona CubicZirconiabacks have, having plated more than three runs just once in their past nine games?

Scoring. It's vastly over-rated. Because, for the third time in the last four victories, we needed two runs or less to take the win: a bit of a turnaround, given we managed it once in the first 36 W's. This was largely thanks to the heroic efforts of Dan Haren, who pitched seven shutout innings against a potent offense. While Webb has struggled in June, Haren has not, pitching 34 innings in five starts, all quality ones, and allowing six earned runs, for an ERA of 1.59. This was probably his best outing of the season, giving up only two hits and a walk, with one Red Sox advancing past first base until the seventh inning.

Said Haren, "Against a lineup like that, you can't fall behind. You can't walk guys. I was pretty aggressive with my fastballs. I probably threw more fastballs than I usually do. It's such a good lineup. I've faced them quite a bit. When I was ahead, I made sure I stayed ahead.," adding, "It really wasn’t the game plan coming in. I was just able to keep it down and away." Obviously, with the Red Sox rarely more than a swing away from going ahead, there was little room for error:  "The adrenaline going in a nothing-nothing game. There is so much effort in every pitch. Here, every pitch meant so much, especially the last inning, being second and third, tying run at second. I'm letting pretty much every pitch go, and snapping every breaking ball as hard as I could. It was a max-effort 100 pitches." Well done, Dan: well done.

It was scoreless after six: the Diamondbacks had almost as much trouble solving Beckett, as the Red Sox did against Haren. However, it was the Boston pitcher who cracked first. Jackson walked to lead off the seventh, and Reynolds singled with one out. Young then doubled off the Green Monster to break the 0-0 tie. We then caught a potentially game-changing break: first-baseman Kevin Youkilis had departed, the Greek god of black-eyes, after getting hit under the right eye by a one-hopper from Mike Lowell during warmups before the fifth. With backup 1B Casey, suspended for his part in a brawl with Tampa, Boston had to use outfielder Brandon Moss at first. This proved critical, as he bobbled Snyder's grounder, allowing Reynolds to score from third, when there might have been a play at the plate.

Subsequent events made that run very, very important. After Tony Peña got the first batter in the eighth, a walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out, and put the tying run into scoring position. Stephen's big brother, J.D. Drew, then hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1, and bring Manny Ramirez to the plate, in front of the baying Fenway faithful. He blistered a screaming line-drive towards the left side of the infield, and my unbridled pessimism looked to be entirely justified.  However, somehow, Reynolds got his glove on the ball to end the threat. After that, Brandon Lyon retiring the Red Sox in order, on a mere five pitches in the ninth, proved something of an anti-climax, albeit an extremely welcome one.

Eric Byrnes was activated from the DL before the game, despite having gone an unimpressive 1-for-12 during his rehab stint with Visalia. "We look forward to having a healthy Eric Byrnes and hopefully he has all his weapons to go and he can run and do some of the things he wasn't able to do before he went on the DL," said Melvin. Insert obvious, snarky remark here, for Byrnes was immediately inserted into the leadoff spot...and immediately returned to his former results, going 0-for-5 with six men left on base. But, dammit all, with the team having gone 9-16 in his absence, he can go ohfer as many as he wants, just as long as we win the game. Alex Romero was optioned down to Tucson to make way for the return of our most highly-paid position player.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Dan Haren, +44.8%
Honorable mentions: Young, +24.9%; Lyon, +20.9%
God-emperor of suck: Eric Byrnes, -18.5%. Welcome back, #22...

Very nice Gameday Thread, totaling over 860 posts at time of writing. Those present were: Zephon, kishi, seton hall snake pit, TwinnerA, DbacksSkins, 4 Corners Fan, LucaMaz3, soco, Wimb, snakecharmer, hotclaws, Muu, luckycc, dahlian, srdmad, emilylovesthedbacks, Counsellmember, Turambar, Diamondhacks, dbacksfan01, friendly visiting fan Allen Chace and unnamedDBacksfan. Just to echo something mentioned in the thread, please do try and refrain from the unnecessary use of F-bombs and similar words. While understandable under some circumstances, it does appear to have become more common of late, and I'd rather posters find alternative terms - or, indeed, languages! - to express their disappointment. I don't want to have to start rattling a virtual swear-box under your nose. :-) We appreciate your co-operation in this matter...

But this was one of a good win. It doesn't change anything though: indeed, I am now determined than ever to go through the rest of the road-trip, convinced that Arizona is going to lose each and every game. So, go on, D-backs - surprise me again tomorrow, why don't you? Final, upbeat note for the night: first-round pick Daniel Schlereth is healed, near deal with D'backs.

"Everything's fine. The Diamondbacks know what it is. It has not scared them away. It bothered them a little bit when they saw on TV that I was icing my elbow, but that was not the problem. We are in negotiations. It's going well. They came up with an offer and all we are looking for is a fair deal, and I'm sure we will get it done." [He] was originally thought to have a strained oblique muscle, according to UA coach Andy Lopez... Schlereth, a left-hander, said it was more of a minor triceps injury that started three days before the first game against Miami. "I knew I pulled something," he said. "I felt I would just throw through it, but couldn't. I felt it would go away, but when I started to warm up in the bullpen (during the first day) I just couldn't throw with it."

For more draft coverage, Nick Piecoro has a nice set of round-by-round capsules on the players we picked. This covers the first ten picks, and a couple of interesting selections beyond that. Didn't realize the Justin Parker we chose in the sixth round, was the older brother of last year's first-round pick, Jarrod Parker. Good stuff.