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Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 4 - Fire Melvin

Record: 42-43. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -5.

I'm just about ready to burst. I wasn't able to post relevant comments in tonight's Gameday Thread, due to the prohibition on discussing the actual game. I really had to restrain myself, because this was the most hopelessly mismanaged and misplayed game I think I have ever seen. I hardly know where to start.

What about with our basepath psychopaths? Two innings into this game, we had five hits, two hit batters...and scored exactly one run. The "aggressive baserunning" beloved of Grace - and, it appears, Melvin - comes back to bite us with a piranha-like vengeance. First, Drew is gunned down trying to take third, and then Young is thrown out at home, trying to score from second on an infield single. Whisky Tango Foxtrot? That's probably two more runs we should have scored - at the time, I said to Mrs. SnakePit, "If that ends up costing us dearly, we know who to blame." And, oh, look what happened... :-(

The Petit Unit pitched very, very well. Retired the first nine batters he faced, and allowed only two hits and no walks through six innings, with just one run allowed. Heck, Micah might not have a job when he comes back. I'm wondering what Yusmeiro's future in the organization will be? We have the rotation largely sewn up next year as well [I'm assuming Scherzer replaces Johnson at this point], so there doesn't seem to be a spot for him. Still, he is young enough yet: only 23, and his birth isn't until November. Getting him for Jorge Julion definitely counts as one of JB's better trades. However, I think this is probably his last year of minor-league options, so we may be faced with some difficult decisions between now and next spring.

Chad Qualls should not be allowed into any game where the tying run is at the plate. He is just too much of a threat to cough it up, doing so tonight, even though he came into the inning with two outs and the bases empty. He allowed back-to-back hits for extra bases, a triple and a double. Mark Grace pointed out that both came on hanging sliders, when that is far from his best pitch. Maybe someone just needs to take the slider out of Qualls' repertoire? Good work by Slaten to get a pair of hard-hitting lefties, in Fielder and Branyan. Shame it was largely for naught. Why was Cruz - pronounced fit and ready to go before the game - not brought in? By just about any measure, he is the better pitcher.

I know I've complained before, but I'm going to keep doing it, while Melvin keeps asking his best batters to put down goddamn sacrifice bunts. Drew gets on with a single: Hudson, the second-best hitter on the team, is then asked to sacrifice. We've all seen how well that works, and lo, he fails to get the bunt down. With two outs, the bunt has to be taken off, and O-Dawg whacks a single into left-field. +8% to Win Probability: 8%. Then, Melvin asks the best hitter on the team, Conor Jackson, to sacrifice. CoJack does at least get the bunt down - even this, probably the best of all bunting situations, with two on and no outs, increases Win Probability by 0.6%. And the run still fails to score, as Reynolds and Young both ground out. I wonder how many times a bunt has let to us scoring any additional runs this year: I will have to check, but I suspect it's not many.

The Brewers immediately homered off Peña to take the lead, and though Upton tied the game up again with a homer of his own in the bottom of the eighth, more Melvin mismanagement murdered us in the ninth. Reynolds had pinch-hit for Tracy in the eighth, but stayed in the game to play first-base. That would be a position he has never played in the majors, and has a massive eight games of experience there, over his entire professional career. Seeing that, I was in absolutely no way surprised, when the first ball hit his way ate him up for an error - a base-runner which subsequently became the Brewers' winning run. Way to manage your bench, Melvin.

Of course, thanks to brilliant roster management, we had a bench of four. Connor Robertson - used for three innings last night, and so presumably a waste of space today (no offense, Connor) - could have been sent back down, with an outfielder like Romero called up. That way, even if Reynolds was the choice to pinch-hit, we could have moved Jackson to first and still had someone to cover the outfield. Mind you, on that front, some managers wouldn't send the team K leader to the plate, with the go-ahead run on third and less than two outs. Why not use Hammock – .a career 277/.328/.447 vs. LHP, and only a 13.2% K rate? Oh, of course: the ever-looming possibility Montero might go down with a fractured testicle too and we’d be left without a catcher… Sheesh. Dodged a bullet there, didn’t we? Melvin, however, is the Mad Scientist. Mad? Going by this performance, the men in white coats have given up on the drugs and gone straight for the frontal lobotomy.

We should have buried the Brewers. We pounded out twelve hits - but managed to push only three runs across home-plate. That's the first time we've had so many hits and lost because we got such a low return, since July 20th, 2005, when we scored twice on 12 hits against Florida, and were defeated 9-2. I guess the hits are something which is good to see. In games #41-80, we reached double figures only six times, but have managed to do it four of the past five games, so that's a recent improvement - and a small measure of comfort on a night where our lead over the Dodgers got slashed to 1.5 games, the smallest it has been since April 8. There is now a very real possibility we might not be in first at the All-Star break.

Four hits for Hudson - I was also very impressed by him taking second on an outfield fly in the ninth, though that went for nothing - plus two for Drew and Young. Ojeda, leading off [perhaps the only thing Melvin got right all night], reached safely three times, on a hit, walk and HBP. I also have to commend Young for a fabulous catch made up against the fence in left-center, to end the top of the ninth inning, which certainly saved a run. On the other hand, he also grounded into the double-play which ended the game, with the tying run just a bloop away. The baseball gods giveth, and the baseball gods taketh away... Tonight, it was almost all the latter.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Justin Upton, +32.8%
Honorable mentions: Hudson, +26.8; Petit, +24.1%
God-emperor of suck: Chris Young, -30.2%
Dishonorable mention: Lyon, -29.1%; Peña, -18.6%; Qualls, -17.5%

Pretty much all or nothing tonight, as far as Win Probability goes. I don't think I've ever seen us with three players about +20, in a loss, though the only other one in positive territory at all was Doug Slaten at +7.6%. Fascinating Gameday Thread; I think that the "non-discussion" concept proved a lot harder than most people expected! Lot of fun though, so thanks to Muu, DbacksSkins, Diamondhacks, 4 Corners Fan, mrssoco, kishi, emilylovesthedbacks, TwinnerA, luckycc, unnamedDBacksfan, IndyDBack,, hotclaws, aricat, dahlian, seton hall snake pit, ChandlerDad and soco for their contributions. Won't do that again for a while, I suspect!

As noted, it cuts our lead down to 1.5 games, and also sinks us below .500 for only the third day since the end of the 2006 season. To add to the woes, we may have lost Byrnes for the season. Melvin says, "Whether or not he has to have surgery will probably be the telltale. Right now, we're still trying to figure out how severe it is in there and how far the tendon is off the bone. We will decide if surgery is the way to go or if it's not the way to go. We're still trying to wait on that one. It becomes a decision on his part too, and whether or not he wants to do the surgery based on the opinions he gets after listening to all the proper personnel. There will be a lot of eyes on this one." The story also says Byrnes has not even been in the clubhouse since the injury, which is...interesting. There was some good news, however, in that Snyder does not require surgery on his fractured testicle. I think we're all relieved to hear that - Snyder most of all.

Oh, well: the first three games of this series have gone pretty much the way I expected. Hopefully the fourth will as well, with Webb taking the mound tomorrow. As a thought, I'm wondering if we'll adjust the schedule between now and the All-Star break. If we keep the normal rotation, he'll pitch twice before the break: tomorrow and on June 9th. But because of the day off we have on the 7th, he could pitch on the 8th, then again on the 13th, in the final game before the break - and then on the 18th, the first game back after it. That might well remove any chance of him pitching in the All-Star Game, but frankly, that feels very secondary to me at the moment.