Record: 41-41. Pace: 81-81. Change on last season: -5
This was a game which we would have won, if only... That sentence can be completed in a number of ways. If only Mark Reynolds hadn't made a hash of a ground-ball from Willingham, turning it into a double. if only home-plate umpire Brian Runge had been able to count - Orlando Hudson was denied a walk to lead off the fourth, despite getting ball four. If only Brandon Lyon hadn't allowed his first run in a save situation since April 6. If only Hermida's subsequent double had been six inches to the left, and so foul.
However, if wishes were horses, the Diamondbacks would be spending most of their time mucking out their locker-room, and the post-game buffet would consist largely of sugar-lumps. To no great surprise, the team failed to score enough runs to put the opposition away, and the bullpen coughed up three runs in 1.1 innings, allowing the Marlins to escape from a Win Probability of only 11.8%, after Lyon retired the first hitter in the bottom of the ninth. That was his only success; Ramirez homered to tie the game up, then Hermida doubled, advanced on a wild-pitch, and a single punched through the drawn-in infield, gave the Marlins victory.
Poor Dan Haren. He was, once again, incredibly solid, going seven innings with the only run allowed was an unearned one in the sixth, after Reynolds' fourteenth error of the season. Haren allowed five hits, two walks and seven K's, and left the game with a 3-1 lead, in line for the victory. Our bullpen took care of that, however; Peña gave up a walk, two hits and a run in the eighth, and then Lyon blew the save and took the loss in the ninth. I suppose we know Lyon's streak of saves was bound to end eventually: just a shame that it robbed such a deserving start by Haren of the win. I think there's no doubt Haren was player of the month for Arizona in June: he went six-for-six in quality starts during the month of June, with a minuscule ERA of 1.32, and certainly deserves more than three victories.
Oh, look: Arizona scored three runs or less, for the twelfth time in the past fifteen games. Two came on a homer by Drew in the third, after Haren had doubled [it's worth noting he has driven in more runs than Owings this year, and has the same number of RBI as Miguel Montero]; the other came courtesy of Chris Burke, who just got a hit to drop in front of the charging left-fielder, scoring Jackson from third with two outs. Jackson was lucky to be there: he should have nailed trying to turn a single into a double, but the throw from left bobbled past the infielder. Candiotti - whom I usually enjoy listening to - praised the "aggressive base-running," but I put it in the category of "psychotic" rather than "aggressive". See also our stolen-base percentage, now sitting at an inefficient 66%, compared to 82% last season. Jackson had two hits, Drew and Montero a hit and a walk.
The remarkable failure of Runge to give Hudson a walk after the fourth ball does deserve some more attention. It looked like Hudson thought it was ball four, but no-one in the Diamondbacks dugout seemed to back him up: was nobody over there keeping count? I know someone is supposed to be charting the pitches, often the next day's starter. Did Doug Davis not pick this up? I can understand the other umpires staying quiet - a cardinal rule is not to offer an opinion on another umpire's decision, unless asked for it. But someone from Arizona should have been willing to ask Runge to double-check. It's also worth noting, something Sutton brought up: the official record of the game on MLB Gameday was quickly censored to remove ball four. That's just wrong. I certainly hope someone speaks to Runge, as he had a horrible game, with a strike-zone that was more of a strike-shiftingamorphousblob.
Here's a startling section from the AP recap. "The Diamondbacks took fielding practice before the game after committing two errors the night before. Arizona has only taken fielding practice two or three times this season, Melvin said." Am i missing something obvious here? Do players stop practicing on their weaknesses once they reach the majors or something? Our defense has been a constant, obvious issue in the first three months, Arizona has allowed the most unearned runs in the NL - and our players have "only taken fielding practice two or three times" in the entire first-half? What, pray tell, have they been doing before the other 78 games? Taking care of all the ponies, it would appear.
The good news is, Byrnes, who didn't play today, "probably" won't be hitting lead-off on his return. The bad news is, the candidates Melvin keeps talking about rolling out there are Drew and Young, who both have on-base percentages almost at .300. It won't be O-Dawg, much though that idea has its appeal - not least, because it'd help stop him from hitting into so many double-plays, for which he is on course for another franchise record, smashing the one which he set last season. Melvin described him as, "Our most consistent guy. If you move him up to solve a problem, you might open up another problem." At this point, I think anything is worth a shot.
Present in the GameDay Thread were; DbacksSkins, soco, mrssoco, unnamedDBacksfan, Zephon, luckycc, kishi, emilylovesthedbacks, hotclaws, TwinnerA, Wimb, srdmad, 4 Corners Fan, seton hall snake pit, dahlian, peeklay and garyho, so thanks to them for their participation. The road-trip ends on a downer: Arizona lost all three series, went 2-7 on the trip, and go back home with their lead cut to 2.5 games. Fortunately, the Dodgers were on the receiving end of a 1-0 game this afternoon, or things would likely be worse. However, we face another team over ..500, in the shape of the Milwaukee Brewers, who are in town for four games. I think taking two of those would be something of an achievement, based on the woeful output of our bats on this trip.