Record: 55-52. Pace: 83-79. Change on last season -3.
Dan Haren did not have his A-stuff tonight. Indeed, early on, B-stuff would likely have been an improvement, as he gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, and the Padres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening inning. Yet, despite that, and a nasty moment on the base-paths, where it looked like he turned his ankle, our co-ace worked around three hits in the first and three more in the fourth to take the win. He has now pitched seven innings or more in eight straight starts, the second-best streak in the NL since 2005, when Chris Carpenter had eighteen such games in a row [Cole Hamels had nine earlier this season for the Phillies].
Tonight, Haren allowed three runs - a little high by his standards - on seven hits, walking none and striking out six. The outing improves his K:BB ratio to 134:24. That leads the league: to put it into context, the best figure for the last few years were:
2008 - Dan Haren, 5.58
2007 - John Smoltz, 4.19
2006 - Roy Oswalt, 4.37
2005 - Pedro Martinez, 4.43
Haren is blowing the recent champions away - you have to go back to 2004, with Ben Sheets (8.25) and Randy Johnson (6.59) to find a better figure. The next best behind Dan this year (min 60 IP) is Sheets, but he's all the way down at 3.72.
It helped that the offense continues to click on all cylinders pounding out thirteen more hits, with ever starter - including Haren - getting at least one. Hudson had two hits and a walk; Young, Tracy and Reynolds all added two each, with Special K slamming his 22nd homer in the eighth. That was immediately followed by Chris Snyder's ninth, and our catcher also reached on a walk. The turning point was a four-run fifth, where the Diamondbacks turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead, helped by some shoddy defense by the Padres.
Romero doubled to lead off the frame, and was able to take third as the result of an error by Headley in left. Haren then hit a chopper to Kouzmanoff at third, whose not-very good throw was handled tentatively at home by Bard, as Romero charged home. That's probably understandable, since Bard missed two months with an ankle injury after a collision at home - in the same game against the Cardinals, where evil Chris Young took a liner to the nose. The ball skittered away, Romero was safe, and Haren advanced to second. Young smacked an RBI double off the outfield wall; Hudson walked; Jackson loaded the bases on an infield hit; but it was Chad Tracy who had the big knock, floating a two-run single to right-field. He has 29 RBI in only 46 games.
Present in the thread were kishi, AZWILDCATS, Turambar, AF DBacks Fanatic, Scrbl, dahlian, Azreous, Muu, hotclaws, TwinnerA, foulpole, AJforAZ, snakecharmer, luckycc, srdmad, soco, mrssoco, unnamedDBacksfan, Zephon, Shums (welcome!), singaporedbacksfan and emilylovesthedbacks. Thanks to them for their participation, as the team took their third straight series, and improved to a very credible 5-1 on this road-trip. It takes the Diamondbacks three games over .500, for the first time since we won the opener of the series in Boston, back on June 23. We're 7-3 in the past ten games, our best record over such a stretch since we also went 7-3 from April 21-30, exactly three months ago.
It was yet another crucial win, as the Dodgers were blanking the Giants for the second consecutive day - for the seventh consecutive game, Arizona and Los Angeles had the same result, either both winning or both losing. Obviously, the streak stops here, since the two teams play each other for the next four days. Each side will miss the other's "ace" - in terms of the starter with the lowest ERA, being Haren for us and Billingsley for the Dodgers. There are still some intriguing matchups: a sinkerballer rematch between Webb and Lowe tomorrow, and then Randy Johnson, at age 44 years 10 months, versus fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw, age 20 years 4 months. Kershaw wasn't even six months old when the Big Unit made his major-league debut. Now, they face off on Friday. And that's just the first couple of games...
Onwards to LA!