Record: 48-49. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -2
Dan Haren showed exactly why he was chosen to appear in the All-Star game, pitching seven shutout innings for Arizona, on a night where the team really needed them. The offense managed to score only three runs - which as we know, is rarely enough for victory. Yet, tonight it was: albeit only just, Brandon Lyon managing to escape with the save, leaving the tying run for the Dodgers on third base in the ninth.
But tonight belonged to Dan Haren, who reduced his ERA to 1.29 in nine outings since the start of June. He has allowed only nine runs in those 63 innings, with 59 strikeouts and only 13 walks. Opposing batters are hitting only .174 off Haren in that time. This evening, the Dodgers managed only four hits, all singles, and two walks in the seven innings. The only time he was in any real danger was in the third, after Los Angeles got back-to-back hits to begin the inning: Haren dialed up the intensity, getting Ethier swinging, then inducing Martin to roll into a double-play. That was the last time the Dodgers got a man into scoring position against our starter.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks offense again got out to a good start. Jackson crushed a pitch into the left-field bleachers: it's only his second homer of July, but that already beats his totals for both May and June. Back-to-back doubles from Hudson and Tracy made it a 2-0 lead before the first inning was over. We wasted an excellent chance in the next frame, however, after Young walked and Romero doubled, to put runners on second and third with nobody out. However, Haren struck out and after Drew walked, Jackson hit into a twin killing that ended the threat.
Arizona added a crucial run in the fourth, with Drew getting an RBI single that scored Montero. That was the last time we had anyone in scoring position, and we ended the day with eight hits, the lowest in some time. Jackson and Hudson had two hits each, and are batting .310 and .397 in July, while Drew had a hit and a walk. Young, while hitless, did walk twice - that's the first time he's done that in more than two months. However, it seems to be time for Mark Reynolds to go into one of his cold spells: since July 2, he is 5-for-38 with fifteen K's.
After Haren left, we turned to Pena to get us through the eighth, and he was solid, despite having pitched an extended inning the night before. The same could not be said of Lyon, who needed every one of the three runs he was handed as a lead in the ninth. A homer started things off, and one out later, a single bounced off the glove of late-inning defensive replacement Tony Clark, and an RBI double was smacked off the outfield wall in right-center to make things very uncomfortable for Arizona fans. We have seen far too many late-inning leads slip away this season: already, we have lost thirteen times when we were leading after six innings, compared to only eight time in the whole of 2007.
The drama continued, as a ground-out moved the tying run to third base, now with two outs. Things were looking pretty good, as Andruw 'I am the Walrus' Jones came up as a pinch-hitter. However, Lyon was not able to put him away - our closer's control had been problematic from the very first batter he faced - and ended up walking Jones, on a full count - this seemed like a very bad decision, when it meant that he got to face Matt Kemp instead. However, he was swinging at the first pitch, got jammed inside, and flew out harmlessly to right field, where Romero gloved the ball and sent us back to the top of the division.
Much shorter Gameday Thread with barely two hundred comments - odd how it works! Hey, I can't criticize, since I didn't turn up until the middle of the game myself. The roll-call for this one will therefore be extremely brief: soco, mrssoco, snakecharmer, emilylovesthedbacks, AF DBacks Fanatic, kishi, Scrbl, hotclaws, unnamedDBacksfan and Muu. Thanks to them for their contributions.
The team got some bad news before the game, with the announcement that Doug Slaten had been placed on the DL, as the result of a knee strain - that weakened the already thin bullpen. We called up Billy Buckner as a replacement, but the Diamondbacks don't have a left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster, so we will find out over the coming couple of weeks what impact that will have on our bullpen performance. It is hoped that Slaten will not need the full time off to recover, but with Chad Qualls also unavailable again, the team simply didn't have the luxury of being able simply to bench him for a bit.
There was balance on the other side of the injury scale though, as Snyder came through his rehab start at Visalia with flying colors. He smacked a homer, drove in four and said, "It was a good test last night. To put it this way, in the second or third inning, there was a foul tip that hit the ground and came up and got me again. Everything held up good. If that's fine then we're good to go." He'll likely replace Hammock on the roster; no offense Robby, but your production since coming up - 3-for-19, all singles - will not be greatly missed, Meanwhile, the Tribune reports, Juan Cruz "will throw a bullpen session today [Sunday] and will need to throw at least one more before the team decides when to activate him from the disabled list.." So he could return during the Cubs series, all being well - certainly looking forward to that.
Tomorrow is for all the marbles: not just the series, also the lead of the NL West. The infielders on both teams should get a good workout, with Webb and Lowe facing each other. If our ace gives us a complete game, I wouldn't mind too much.