And it almost worked. Unbridled Pessimism day at the Pit nearly pulled off a stunning upset, with the Diamondbacks leading the Red Sox by two runs, with just four outs left to get. But, inevitably, the lead was coughed up by Chad 'Inherited Runners' Qualls and we snatched disaster from the jaws of triumph. If only we had maintained a united front of gloom and doom in the Gameday Thread. But nooooo: someone decided they were "all about positivity." "I'm not going to join in," said the Cheerful Charlie. "Deal with it." It only takes one to spoil the barrel of vinegar, and as a result, I refer you to my post of 5:30 pm:
You'll be sorry when the inevitable implosion comes, and the rest of us say, "Told you so…"
All together now: told you so.
Let's not be selfish, since there's plenty of blame to go around. Start with our hitters, for failing to capitalize on a host of opportunities during the early frames. After six innings, we had seven hits and four walks - enough to have buried the Red Sox totally. However, all we had to show for it was Tracy's three-run homer and an RBI single, also by Chad. Chris Young grounded into a double-play to end the fifth, and the chances dried up: from that point on, we went 1-for-14, and didn't get another man into scoring position. Even allowing for our deep disdain for all things positive, a three-run lead just never felt like it was going to be enough, even though Davis was pitching well.
He'd allowed five hits and a walk through the front seven, with the only damage a one-out homer by Pedroia in the first inning. Beyond that, he was great at throwing the Red Sox hitters curves when they were expecting cutters, and vice-versa. From the second through the seventh innings, Boston only had one at-bat with a runner in scoring position. His final line was seven innings, seven hits, one walk, six K's and three earned runs: another very solid outing, another no-decision. It leaves the unfortunate Davis still winless in over a month, even though four of those six appearances have been quality starts.
Way to go, Melvin: leave your starter in too long, bring in the wrong reliever, and then leave him out there until the game is lost. You must get up very early. With Haren publicly saying last night, how he was done after 98 pitches, what made you think Davis was still fresh after 94? And how many times has Davis got any outs in the eighth inning for AZ? Exactly once in 41 starts. Lo, the Red Sox got two hard-hit singles, and the tying run was suddenly at the plate, with the big guns in their order coming up, in the shape of Pedroia, Drew and Ramirez. Time to go to the bullpen, for sure - even if Melvin was late to get anyone warming up there. So who does our manager pluck out of the pen, with men in scoring position? Chad Qualls, who has shown a horrible fondness for botching situations like that this season.
Here are Qualls' splits for the year, coming into today's game:
Bases empty: .176/.263/.250
Men on base: .242/.310/.355
Runners in scoring position: .333/.404/.487
The last figure will now look even worse, as Boston went 3-for-5 tonight there against Qualls - a quick bit of button-pushing reveals opponents are now batting .364 against him with RISP. I know Melvin was aiming for the twin killing, but Qualls has just one double-play since April 24, covering 33 at-bats with someone on first. Give him an empty inning, and he is fine; bring him in with the bases clogged, and this is why Qualls leads the majors in losses by a reliever, with a 1-6 record. You'd think lessons might have been learned after Saturday in Minnesota, where he retired just one of six hitters he faced with men in scoring position.
That's the third defeat in a row where we had the lead, and couldn't hang on to it. Only three outs left, so we didn't have much hope of pulling this out of the fire: especially facing Papelbon, who has a 1.52 ERA post-2005, the lowest in the majors of any pitcher with 100+ innings. A one-out walk by Byrnes gave fractional cause for hope: might he steal second, and put us just a bloop away from tying the game? In a word, no. He almost got picked off once, and after that, he never looked like he was even going to try. Drew fanned, and Hudson grounded harmlessly out, to end the game.
Positives, outside of Doug Davis? Well, the Dodgers lost. Tracy looked good, driving in all four runs with two hits, and also getting a walk. Jackson also reached safely three times, on a hit and two walks, while Hudson chipped in with a couple of hits. But Young continues to free-fall going 0-for-4, and one wonders why Reynolds and Upton were both benched for the night; replacements Ojeda and Salazar were 0-for-7. Beyond that, I can offer nothing better than Dbackskins' fabulous visual aid:
[Click to enlarge, in new windowII]
Master of his domain: Chad Tracy, +34.9%
Honorable mention: Doug Davis, +13.3%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Qualls, -62.7%
Dishonorable mentions: Drew -16.4%, Snyder -11.3%
Another monstrous Gameday Thread, almost necessitating a double-overspill, and ending at 928 posts for the night. Present were 4 Corners Fan, DbacksSkins, Muu, dbacksfan01, Zephon, hotclaws, TwinnerA, soco, dahlian, kishi, luckycc, emilylovesthedbacks, Augie's Army, seton hall snake pit, Counsellmember, likeavirgin, mrssoco, Wimb, Diamondhacks, dstorm, srdmad, unnamedDBacksfan and ChandlerDad. Thanks to them for their presence, and a brave but futile pursuit of Unbridled Pessimism day: I don't think we'll be trying that again in a hurry. Still, we regroup and get ready to come back strong tomorrow, when we will be formally auditioning a new potential saint for the Diamondbacks pantheon. So that'll be nice...