Record: 47-47. Pace: 81-81. Change on last season: -2
Well, that was unexpected, wasn't it? I mean, in a serious, lightning from a clear sky kind of way. The Phillies had just tied up the game at two on a Victorino homer, and the first two in the Arizona fourth went down quietly, exposing the bottom third of our order, which had been - and would be again - wretchedly ineffectual [Outside that inning, slots 7-9 went 0-for-10, in fact]. But Romero rifled a ground-ball into right-field, and Hammock drew an unintentional intentional walk. That brought up Randy Johnson - who, since the end of the 2004 season, had hit .080 [4-for-50] with one RBI. Little wonder that the limit of my hopes and aspirations at this point were, "Well, at least we've got the offensive epicenter of the Gurgling Vortex of Suck(TM) out of the way."
Eaton quickly went 1-2 on the Big Unit, but the third strike proved remarkably elusive. Johnson, somehow, managed to lay off the bad pitches and foul off the good ones, finally working the count full. Then, on what I think was the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Eaton sent down a fastball, and Johnson smashed it into the left-field corner for a two-RBI double. Eaton would have been better off taking the baseball and cramming it down his throat in a suicide bid. As by the time the third out was eventually recorded, nine consecutive Diamondbacks had reached base safely, on six hits plus three walks, and we'd scored eight runs, all with two outs.
- A. Romero singled to center
- R. Hammock walked, A. Romero to second
- R. Johnson doubled to deep left, R. Hammock and A. Romero scored
- S. Drew walked
- C. Jackson doubled to deep left, R. Johnson scored, S. Drew to third
- O. Hudson intentionally walked
- C. Tracy singled to center, S. Drew and C. Jackson scored, O. Hudson to third
- M. Reynolds homered to deep center, O. Hudson and C. Tracy scored
- C. Young singled to center
Ah, that's the kind of inning that has been a long time coming as far as the Diamondbacks are concerned, with a cunning mix of bloops [Tracy's broken-bat blooper - especially impressive as it came off a leftie pitcher, brought in specifically to face him] and blasts, Reynolds getting his nineteenth homer of the season with a three-run bomb that capped the inning. If he gets one tomorrow, he'll be the first Diamondback hitter to reach twenty homers before the All-Star break, since Steve Finley had 21, back in 2004. Special K's 58 RBI is already the most in the first-half for five years: Gonzo had 67 in 2003.
So, victories are like buses for Randy Johnson: you wait forever for one to show up, then two come along together. After seven weeks for career win #289, he had only six days before #290 gets tucked in his locker. He wasn't brilliant; more 'good enough'. Johnson allowed four runs on five hits and a walk, including two homers to the light-hitting Shane Victorino, who had only three round-trippers in 312 AB this season prior to the game. He could perhaps have gone longer, having thrown 84 pitches after the sixth; however, he suffered cramps in his calf while warming up, a result of his running the bases. [Must be said, he didn't look comfortable there. Mark Grace joked Randy was looking for an oxygen mask in the dugout. I commented his hit would have been a triple, if he hadn't had to stop at first and ask for directions.] Better safe than sorry though, and with about nine days till his next outing, he should be fine.
Tracy had three hits - two off southpaws - while Drew and Jackson each reached safely three times, with a pair of hits and a walk. Every starter bar Hammock had a hit, though Young's 1-for-5 with two K's is...about par for the course of late, unfortunately. There just is no alternative right now: he has played 816 of the 836 innings there this season; Alex Romero, with thirty-five minor league games at the position, and one in the majors, is not the answer. However, if we continue to get decent production from 1B and LF [on this road-trip, Tracy and Jackson are 8-for-20 and 7-for-21 respectively], then we might be ok. If I don't want to say we're out of the woods yet, in fourteen games since our team BA reached a low of .244 on June 27, we've hit .264 and gone 7-7.
Welcome to Randy Johnson's Bizarro World. I think it may be a very, very long time before we see Johnson master of his domain...for his ability at the plate, rather than for directing 94 mph sliders over it. However, that was genuinely a decent at-bat he put together, and sometimes that, and a little luck, will bring unexpected dividends to even the least effective hitter. Today was his first multi-RBI game since October 2nd, 2004, and the eighth of his career overall. The win sends us back to .500, and guarantees that the worst we can finish the first half is tied for the lead in the division.
A chunky Gameday Thread, passing 600 comments - admittedly, the game itself seemed well down on the list of priorities, even before our eight-run outburst effectively ended it as a spectacle. Present were seton hall snake pit, AF DBacks Fanatic, DbacksSkins, TwinnerA, hotclaws, kishi, golfmanthee, mrssoco, soco, Zephon, AZWILDCATS, Mr. Philosophical, emilylovesthedbacks and, unnamedDBacksfan. We now get to kick back and see whether the Dodgers can break their two-game streak against the Marlins this evening. Then, tomorrow morning, it's Brandon Webb against Cole Hamels, to decide whether we finish the first-half over .500 or under it. Should be fun: see you for that!