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Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 3: He-Wolves of the Wasteland

Record: 34-28. Pace: 89-73. Change on last season: -2

If you watched only the first and last inning of this, you'd think the Diamondbacks were an unstoppable force. We scored three times in the first, taking full advantage of early wildness from Gorzelanny, who walked two of the first three hitters he faced - both of them came round to score on a single by Jackson and a double by Young. Reynolds added a sacrifice fly, and despite Melvin's fascination with the detrimental bunt [Drew's sacrifice with one out took -1.8% off the Win Probability], Dan Haren had a three-run start before he even took the mound. It was the first time since the opening frame of Sunday's game that we'd put a crooked number on the board, a span of 43 innings.

Similarly, in the ninth, Snyder led off with his sixth bomb, having flown out deep a couple of times earlier in the game. Bookending this game, our offense was on fire! The seven innings in the middle, however... Not so much. In fact, tumbleweeds pretty much rolled across the scoreboard for Arizona, as three hits, one walk were all the Diamondbacks mustered over that spell, leading to no runs at all. The Pirates chipped away at the lead, slowly but steadily, with single tallies in the third, fourth and finally, tied it up with the second homer off Haren, when McLouth went deep with two outs in the fifth. The promising start gurgled down the plughole like Paris Hilton's dirty bath-water - and leaving a similarly-questionable taste in the mouth,

This piece of tale had a happier ending, however, even if the only hit from a non-pitcher we managed between that point and Snyder's homer, was a lead-off double in the seventh by Haren . Typically, of course, we failed to bring him home and he ended up stranded at third. Or, "business as usual", as we say for the Diamondbacks offense over the past month. Young had a couple of doubles, and Hudson a couple of walks. Otherwise, pickings were slim, and we ended up with just six hits for the fourth consecutive game. Indeed, say what you like about our batters, they are nothing if not consistent: - in the past eleven games, we have nrmanaged more than eight or less than six hits. I'd be a lot happier if said consistency had not resulted in a batting average of .216 over this time.

After Lyon had to wait three weeks for a save opportunity, two came along in consecutive days, and he pitched yet another scoreless inning. I haven't seen a longer line of zeros since the queue to get into the last anime convention. [Hey, it's ok: recovering anime fan, and still have several shelves of fansubs to prove it. I bailed when the market got over-saturated with apparently endless series about high-school ping-pong societies] As yesterday, the save was not without drama. A lead-off single brought in a pinch-runner, who broke for second with one out. Snyder, however, gunned him down - that'll help our poor showing in the area so far, where we came into the game having nailed only 16% of thieves, ahead only of the Padres (14%). "At some point, when they put in a pinch-runner like Rivas, he’s going to go," Snyder said. "Lyon gave me a good pitch to throw, I made a good throw and got him."

Haren was okay, rather than spectacular. Though he only walked one hitter, that came round to score the Pirates' first run, and it seemed he had problems throwing strikes - only 54 of 93 pitches - especially early in the count. Normally, starters who allow multiple home-runs don't  pitch quality starts, but both of the ones Haren allowed were solo shots, so he improved his ratio there to ten in thirteen outings,. However, if the win went to Juan Cruz for his scoreless eighth. and I think Dan would be the first to admit he probably didn't deserve it today. He said, "I've had really good stuff the last couple of starts, but today I really didn't have much. Got an early lead, which was really nice. I just tried to battle and they fought back. It's a tough team and a tough team to beat at home -- they play really well at this ballpark. I was fighting to keep us there and it's a really nice team win."

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Snyder, +23.9%
Honorary mention: Brandon Lyon: +20.9%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -12.4%

I think that might be the biggest single Gameday Thread of all time. At various points, an overflow was mooted, but it never quite happened, and then the game was over...and the comments continued on. Close to 700 posts in one thread - though it did teeter precariously close to GLB-ness when we entered "Be my friend on Facebook" territory. Since it was after the game, I'll let it slide. :-) Nice discussion on the pros and cons of social networking sites though. Present were soco, foulpole, Wimb, dahlian, DbacksSkins, kishi, unnamedDBacksfan, Azreous, mrssoco, TwinnerA, luckycc, hotclaws, UptonMVP, CPAYNEonaplane [welcome!], UofAZGrad, 4 Corners Fan and emilylovesthedbacks. Oh, and you'll have to dig through the thread to find the true significance of tonight's title.

All of a sudden, the NL West has awoken. Between today and yesterday, the division which was the worst in baseball has gone 10-0 against other NL teams. Admittedly, the only team in the top two of the Central or West we're currently playing is the Cubs, but it's a start. Beat up on the bottom feeders now, work up to the big guns, oh, just in time for October. A two-game winning streak is a start: another victory tomorrow will seal victory in the series, and it'll be a run we've only seen once since April 19 [four W's versus the Rockies and Detroit]. But are we never going to get more than ten hits ever again?