Record: 49-50. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -2.
While there was no wi-fi access for me tonight, I did have the laptop, and so was able to scribble down a few notes while watching the game: I could just about see the game, but there was no audio, so any insights are entirely based on what I coukd see. Here's the game as I saw it.
1st inning. Arrive at the Grand Tavern just in time to see the D-backs go down in order, with little fuss. Drew strikes out, then Jackson swings at the first pitch he sees. Hudson has a bit of a better at-bat, but the net result is an easy fly-ball to the outfield.
2nd inning. Johnson is looking pretty good. His slider is moving very nicely, and his mechanics look pretty good. Radar is showing low-90's for his pitches, right where we'd hope. He retires the Cubs in order, getting a nice strikeout looking to end the inning. The Chicago hitter seemed less than impressed, and the pitch did look a bit inside. Arizona's turn starts with Tracy lifting the ball to the outfield, and he is followed by Reynolds, who does take a couple of pitches, to get ahead at 2-1, before going down swinging at a pitch around his ankles. Young goes one further, working the count full before he takes strike three at the bottom of the zone.
3rd inning. Harden looks as advertised - without wishing him ill, I hope we don't have to face him again this season. Bottom of the order up for Chicago. Edmonds becomes the first base-runner with a blooped single back up the middle. Cedeno goes after the first pitch and sends it deep to center, but Young tracks it down at the warning track. Harden's first two bunts yell "AL pitcher!" but he gets the third one down, advancing the runner. Theriot also goes after the first pitch, and the result is the same: Young makes the third out in deep center. Snyder is carved up by Harden, with some ugly swings; Romero pops up weakly on the infield; Johnson probably has the best at-bat, running the count full without taking the bat off his shoulder, then foul tips one to end the inning.
4th inning. Another Cubs base-runner, Johnson on a swinging bunt that trickles about 30 feet, leaving Reynolds without a chance. However, Lee pops out to shallow right, Ramirez K's, and Soto pops out to end the threat. Be nice if we could get our leadoff man aboard... Drew, however, strikes out, and Harden remains perfect through four innings. If only I could post in the Gameday Thread about now: I would be readying the pics of St. Penelope. On the other hand, Johnson hasn't exactly given up hard hits, just a bloop and a swinging bunt.
5th inning. That said, Young is being kept busy, running down another ball in center-field, . Phew. I miss the rest of the inning, as our comics and the host are arriving, so get distracted by discussing the merits of The Dark Knight. However, I get back to the game just in time to see Chad Tracy take a walk. Score one for St. Penelope, even in hypothetical form. Now, can we make it count? Mark Reynolds can't, going down swinging at something 96 mph-shaped. Something really wild from Harden moves Tracy into scoring position, but Young pops out and Snyder is also retired, to end our first threat. We're still being no hit through five. Time for some more St. Penelope pics?
6th inning. Looks that the first run will go to the winning team: okay, that's true most of the time anyway, but all the more so as the zeros stack up. Johnson strikes out Harden to open the sixth, and another fine catch by Young gets the second out. The next batter does reach, and Snyder is out to talk to Johnson. The Unit looks a bit gassed, and with his spot up in the bottom half, I wonder if he's done. But he gets out of the inning. Now, let's get some ru...well, can we start with hits, and work up to the complex stuff?
Romero decides to combine the two, breaking up the no-hitter with the first homer of his major-league career: while it will doubtless be classified by HitTracker as a "Just Enough", it looks might good on the scoreboard. Johnson is batting for himself, so seems he'll be going out for another frame. He actually gets decent wood on the ball, flying out to fairly-deep center. Drew puts the ball in play - first time today - but is still retired. and Jackson goes down swinging. We have one hit. Two base-runners. And the lead. Now, can we keep it?
7th inning. Wish I knew what Johnson's pitch-count was at. That would make me feel a bit more comfortable. Another deep fly, this time to the warning-track in left. Phew. Eight outs to get. I'm beginning to think about who'll pitch the last two innings. Tracy makes a nice catch in foul territory for the second out. I am almost certain that we won't see Lyon in the ninth: I presume it will be Pena. But who'll be up in the eighth? A 1-2-3 inning for Randy. Maybe they'll send him out there again? Wish I knew what Johnson's pitch-count was at... I'd also feel better if we can add on a run or two. If Romero can hit the ball out of the park, then anyone can. Doesn't happen in our half, despite a two-out walk to Reynolds. I think Harden is done.
8th inning. Johnson has gone, his unbeaten record against the Cubs secure. Interestingly, we bring in Micah Owings to relieve the Big Unit. It all gets a little confusing at this point: I am trying to listen to a comedian friend who just got out of jail, and is having a big welcome home party on Saturday. However, over his shoulder I see Owings get a big double-play to end the eighth. I am perhaps more excited by that than the party. Three outs to get. Bottom of the inning. Leadoff walk to Snyder. Tony Clark pinch-hits and is now 0-for-6 since joining the team. Still, Drew delivers a clutch two-out triple to make it 2-0 before the end of the eighth. Is that Chad Qualls warming in the bullpen?
9th inning. Deep breath. Three outs. Qualls is in. We so need to hold on to this one, after the disaster which was Sunday. Qualls, however, walks the leadoff hitter to bring the tying run to the plate. Then Tracy drops a potential double-play ball, and everyone is safe. Tying run on base. Still no-one out. I have a massive, impending sense of doom. But Qualls gets the next batter to hit another ground-ball, and this one gets executed impeccably. Two out, the tying run no longer on base. Two pitches later, a soft grounder ends the game, and Arizona has beaten the Cubs for the first time this year, giving Rich Harden his first loss in blue. Halle-bloody-lujah, and I am saved from having to wear a Cubs cap on Thursday.
We drove past Chase after work tonight, and saw all the Cubs fans heading towards the park: very happy to send them home disappointed! In what is probably his last regular-season outing against the Cubs, Johnson ran his career record against them to 13-0, with an ERA of 1.84. I know the W-L record is the best among any active pitchers with ten starts against one team: I wonder where that ERA ranks. It's also the first time ever Arizona has won a game on two hits: we'd won six times on three hits, most recently in May 2005 against the Nationals. Credit some very solid defense, with Young a gurgling vortex - in a good way - in center, sucking up everything hit to him.
Monstrous thread, testing the technological boundaries of SB Nation v2.0: 845 comments in one thread? Some of them were even actually about the game, though I had a lot of skimming over the irrelevancies to do once I got home... Focus, people! :-) Thanks to those who took part: mikeb, kennythered (welcome!), soco, DbacksSkins, kishi, Zephon, TwinnerA, mrssoco, snakecharmer, AF DBacks Fanatic, AZWILDCATS, unnamedDBacksfan, DiamondbacksWIn, singaporedbacksfan, NewJackCity, dstorm, emilylovesthedbacks, friendly visiting fan JoeCoolMan24, njjohn, Scrbl, srdmad, seton hall snake pit and 4 Corners Fan
Elsewhere, the Rockies and Dodgers got together for a 26-run game of pinball at Coors, with the Dodgers coming out on top to stay level with Arizona. And Jose Valverde out-Lyoned Lyon, allowing six earned runs in one-third of an inning of work for Houston, as they coughed up a late lead. His ERA is now 4.86: with Qualls getting the save for us, that trade is now looking nowhere near as bad as it was 24 hours ago!
Tomorrow brings the Petit Unit to the mound, replacing Owings, who appears to have been slid into the bullpen: I am wondering if this is going to be a permanent move? And is Petit just a place-holder until Scherzer gets his arm strength up to 100% and can rejoin the rotation? It promises to be an interesting encounter: I will not be about at all for that one, so as noted, if anyone wants to take over recap duties, please let me know...