Record: 48-50. Pace: 79-83. Change on last season: -2
Way to ruin our wedding anniversary, Diamondbacks. I should have realized this was going to go pear-shaped when we got to the cinema and due to an apparent scheduling change, were not able to see Wall-E. We saw Wanted instead which, while more than adequate, is hardly the kind of romantic, snuggly movie you want to go and see on your anniversary. Things were not improved subsequently by a) the tilapia at Outback not being very tasty at all, and b) the manager of The Sets not being present to give Mrs. SnakePit the cash she was due. The highpoint of the day was one of our burlesque dancers [who were rehearsing for their show next weekend] admitting she has had a crush on Mark Grace since eighth-grade. All told, the day pretty much went downhill from there.
At that point, Brandon Webb had just finished off the Dodgers in the seventh, and we had a three-run lead with six outs to get. At that point, our Win Probability was 94%, and it would get as high as 97.2% after Webb got a nice ground-ball double-play to end the eighth inning, with the score still 4-1 to Arizona. Then came Lyon. I had been wondering what would happen if the ninth was a save situation. While he has pitched three days in a row before, it's never been after having thrown forty pitches over the first two appearances, as he did Friday and Saturday. Now, obviously, the main alternative candidate, Tony Peña, was little better off, having thrown 37 pitches in those two games. But it was painfully obvious that Lyon was far from sharp yesterday, when he came within 90 feet of blowing all of a three-run lead. Sending him out again today seemed as suicidal as ordering Angelina Jolie's Wanted character, to get back into the kitchen and cook you dinner.
At the very least, someone else should have been ready to go in case of trouble. Instead, it took Bob Melvin seven batters, five hits, four runs and the lead being turned over to LA, before he decided our closer didn't quite have what it took. In mitigation, Lyon wasn't helped by Stephen Drew's inability to turn a double-play in the middle, instead getting only the force at second. However, it was still our fourteenth defeat when leading after six innings - in contrast, we have only five victories, when trailing at the same point. The bullpen, such a strength last year, is now on the verge of absolute implosion: in eleven innings this series, they allowed ten runs. Seven of those came off our closer, on eight hits over just 2.2 innings. That Valverde trade looks like a frickin' disaster about now, doesn't it? Qualls is unable to pitch, Burke is an offensive black-hole and Gutierrez has a 7.18 ERA with Tucson.
Another great start by Brandon Webb, yet the result was another no-decision - he's had four this season, and only in one of them has he allowed more than two earned runs. He wasn't perhaps at his very sharpest, allowing six hits and three walks, with four strikeouts, but he proved very capable of bearing down when necessary, getting the big double-plays almost on command. "I worked out of some jams, made some pitches when I had to and came out pretty much unscathed," said our ace afterwards. He threw 109 pitches and only three of the 24 outs he recorded came in the air, which is always a sign that his sinker is working at a high level.
Offensively, Stephen Drew was the star for Arizona, getting four hits for the second time in his career. Since June 30th, he is batting .333 (22-for-66) and is even hotter during his current seven-game hitting streak, having gone 15-for-35. His season average is up to .270, and it's good to see - hopefully it can continue to climb, up towards the .280-.290 range, last seen at the end of May. He almost managed to complete an inside-the-park home-run in the fourth, but was thrown out at home - it wasn't even that close a play, and we have to put the blame for that one at the feet of third-base coach, Chip 'The Windmill' Hale.
Mark Reynolds went 2-for-4, while Chris Young reached safely twice, on a hit and a walk. Tony Clark got the start at first-base, which raised some eyebrows, given his poor track record against Lowe (4-for-27 before today), and the great success currently being enjoyed by Chad Tracy: his July line is merely .404/.415/.577. It certainly didn't work too well today, Clark going hitless in four at-bats, striking out twice and also making an error at first. Still, can't put a value on all that veteran presence, eh? Chris Snyder was duly activated before the game, with Hammock going back to Tucson - he walked in his first at-bat, and also drove in our fourth run with a successful squeeze play in the sixth, as well as nailing Nomah when he tried to steal second. Welcome back, Chris.
I think the above graph is pretty self-explanatory. Present in the Gameday Thread were kishi, hotclaws, Jim McLennan, 4 Corners Fan, TwinnerA, DbacksSkins, njjohn, unnamedDBacksfan, srdmad, DiamondbacksWIn, Scrbl, mrssoco, emilylovesthedbacks, soco, seton hall snake pit, Wimb, Silverblood, nargel and new poster "BS,L"yon - welcome to him. srdmad was nominally present, but his only comment was duly hidden under the new profanity policy, so he's excluded from the roll. Ditto visiting troll hollywood55, who has duly been warned. A little spikiness towards silverblood, which may not have been entirely justified, but is certainly understandable. Her visit was certainly unfortunate timing, at the very least.
A very disappointing series: we had chances to win all three games, and certainly should have taken at least a couple of them. Oddly, the one we did is where we scored least runs, and we lost both the contests where we scored five or more - totally the reverse of the standard pattern this season. Regardless, instead of being four up on the Dodgers - or even two ahead - we find ourselves level with them. And now we just have to face the NL Central-leading Cubs, with the back end of our rotation, in Johnson, Owings and Davis. Anyone feel comfortable about taking two out of three there, which now becomes almost a necessity? No, me neither. About the only plus is the Dodgers have to go to Colorado, where the Rockies have suddenly re-discovered how to win, albeit only by sweeping Pittsburgh.
I think I am gradually coming to terms with the fact that this team is not actually very good. Oh, there are some components of it which can shine on any given day, but the odds appear to be in favor of another component countering this competence by sucking so badly, that we still manage to lose. When we hit [Friday], our starter blows chunks; when our starter is great [Saturday], we get no offense; when our starter is great and we get some offense [Sunday], our closer decides he will spend the day redefining the term, Gurgling Vortex of Suck (TM), with a career-worst appearance. If all three components ever aligned some day, the defense would, no doubt, step up their efforts in the service of a loss.
Still, what can you do? See you tomorrow for the Cubs game...