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Diamondbacks 3, Pirates 5: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Record: 34-30. Pace: 86-76. Change on last season: -3

Or, for those not fluent in the language of love, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Or, for those who prefer a less flowery version, "Same shirt, different day." [Well, more or less. :-)] Mark Reynolds almost had four homers in consecutive at-bats, but lost out as the umpires reversed one and turned it into a double. Bob Melvin picked up his first ejection of the season in the second inning, for arguing the above call. There was almost the first bench-clearing brawl in a long time for the Diamondbacks.

However, the end result still remained exactly the same: 6-8 hits once more [13 games in a row]; five runs or less [14 straight] and a defeat [6-14 over the past twenty]. The "less than nine hits" thing is now reaching epic proportions: no National League team has had a longer run of such offensively-limited games, since the Mets rolled for twenty straight in July 1972. Mark Reynolds continued to be the main offensive force, swatting a homer and two doubles, while Chris Young got two hits and Justin Upton reached safely four times, with a hit and three of our four walks. However, I can't blame the Pirates for walking him, since behind J-Up sat Miguel Montero - he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and eight men left on base, as well as committing one of our three errors. I haven't looked at the Fangraph yet, but I've a fair idea he will not be master of his domain.

Randy Johnson's control was not his best today, and it really hurt him. Of the five runs he allowed, four of the batters who scored had reached base on balls, and the fifth was driven in thanks to a bases-loaded walk. He seemed a bit upset with the home-plate umpire's strike-zone, and far more than upset with Doug 'Triple-word Score'  Mientkiewicz stepping out of the batter's box in the middle of Johnson's delivery. Words were exchanged, the Big Unit headed towards the batter's box, both benches cleared, but order was restored without things escalating further. "It didn’t bother me at all," Johnson said. "If it would have, he’d probably be on a stretcher and I’d probably be out of the game."

Subsequent events would suggest otherwise, and that the incident definitely affected our starter. He walked Mientkiewicz, made a fielding error on the next play and then, after Montero muffed Duke's sacrifice bunt, walked another man with the bases loaded and still no-one out. He did bear down, retiring the next three without further damage, but continued to struggle thereafter  He ended up allowing five runs (one unearned) on six hits and five walks. Johnson was replaced by Juan Cruz with two outs in the sixth inning, failing to complete six for the first time since May 13th, but throwing a season-high 106 pitches. Win #289 remains as elusive as it has been in his past four starts now.

Mark Reynolds thought he'd got a homer in the second, with a long drive to right. A fan caught the ball, and while initially ruled a four-bagger, after the Pirates' manager came out to appeal, it was ruled that the fan had leaned into play to grab the ball. Bob Melvin came out to put his point of view, and something he said clearly upset home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, who tossed Melvin. Replays appeared to indicate the men in blue got this one right in the end, though you wouldn't find our manager willing to admit it after the game. He commented, "My opinion was the first-base umpire got it right. The first-base umpire is closest to the play and my opinion was he got it right, and I didn't know why they overturned it."

The Pirates pulled steadily away, reaching a 5-1 lead after six. An RBI double for Young pulled back a run in the seventh, and we had the tying run at the plate with one out. However, first Montero, then pinch-hitter Owings, struck out swinging. Our best chance was in the eighth: Drew homered to lead things off, and we loaded the bases after that, putting the tying run in scoring position. Inexplicably, Montero was left up there to hit for himself again - the swinging K which followed had the air of inevitability about it. Chris Burke batted leadoff once again, and went 0-for-4, making him 0-for-11 at the top of the order this year. His presence in the starting lineup puzzles me: put him the spot where he'll get most at-bats, and I'm beyond puzzlement. I can only be described as bewildered.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
God-emperor of his domain: Justin Upton, +18.0%
Honorable mention: Mark Reynolds, +15.4%
God-emperor of suck: Miguel Montero, -29.3%
Dishonorable mention: Randy Johnson, -16.8%

For a weekday morning game, not a bad turnout in the Gameday Thread. Certainly, no shortage of things to talk about. Present were 4 Corners Fan, DbacksSkins, luckycc, nihil67, Counsellmember, hotclaws, isoldout, TwinnerA, Muu, kishi, Diamondhacks, srdmad, dahlian, Wimb and victor frankenstein. A series which started so well, with back-to-back wins behind solid pitching, sputters out into a split. It seems the only way we can win is if the Dodgers do so too.

It's on to New York, who are staggering even worse than we are, having just been swept in a four-game series by the Padres. Sheesh. They took two of three from us back in Arizona at the start of  May and, in a quirk of scheduling fate, the rematches will see exactly the same pitchers go head-to-head again. First it's Owings vs. Maine, then Webb vs. Pelfrey and we finish on Thursday with Haren vs. Santana. At this point...sheesh, dare I hope for two out of three? Oh, and a pony...