Record: 43-44. Pace; 80-82. Change on last season: -4
That was not the Diamondbacks I wanted to see. Once again, "momentum" proves to be nothing but a mirage loved by certain TV commentators, as there was absolutely no carry-forward out of Thursday's sterling resurrection from the dead against Milwaukee. Far from extending our hitting streak, Baek no-hit Arizona through the first five innings, and ended up pitching six shutout frames - just the latest in a long line of mediocre hurlers who have been made to look very, very good by the Diamondbacks.
There isn't much I can say, particularly about the first five innings, where we managed exactly one base-runner [an Orlando Hudson walk]. Though Dan Haren did a sterling job of keeping us in this one, matching Baek by posting zeroes - albeit not no-hit ones - on the board alongside the Padres' line. He had seven strikeouts through five, with the only runner to reach scoring position being Baek, who hammered his first-ever major-league hit by doubling to the wall. I'm not sure who was most surprised by this, but Haren calmly retired the next two hitters to end the threat.
The sixth ended both Haren's shutout and Baek's no hitter. A lead-off single was followed by another, but a poor throw from Upton allowed the latter to advance into scoring position. As a result, the ground-out that followed was no longer a double-play, and the runner reached third, to score on a sacrifice fly. Arizona tried to comeback in the bottom half; Drew doubled into the left-center gap, to break the no-no. Hudson then singled to left, and Drew was waved home, only to be beaten by the throw. I have to say, it was basically a perfect throw, and we had a beautiful view from our seats, as it curved towards home-plate. I think that was the point when I knew it wasn't going to be our night.
We did get a run back in the seventh, when a Texas Leaguer from Tracy exquisitely trisected three converging Padres, to bring Hudson home from third, and put Chad into scoring position. However, Mark Reynolds popped out to first, and angrily smashed his bat down, obviously and understandably frustrated. Pinch-runner Emilio Bonifacio stole third [that was the first we'd heard at the park of any roster moves], but Chris struck out looking, one of eleven K's for the Diamondbacks on the night, compared to only one walk.
Just when we thought we were clawing our way back, a horrendously-botched piece of defense gifted the Padres a run. With a man on first, Slaten got Gonzalez to ground the ball to Jackson, who stepped on the bag, then threw wide of second - in his defense, he had to move off first to try and get a clear throwing-lane, otherwise, he'd have hit the runner. The runner then headed for third, and would have been out by a mile...had Doug Slaten been doing his job and covering the bag. He wasn't, and so instead of bases empty, two out, there was a man on third and one out.
Who do we not want to see coming in from the bullpen in this situation? Chad Qualls. Who comes in from the bullpen? Chad Qualls. Discount what I said above: that was when I knew all hope was lost. And, oh, look: he served up a single on the very first pitch, allowing another inherited runner to score, and improving opponents' BA against him, with RISP, to a monstrous .353. How many times does Bob Melvin have to make the same mistake before he learns? I think we need to attach a car-battery to his genitals, and if we ever see Chad Qualls warming up in a close game, or worse yet, come in with runners in scoring position, it's 12 Volts Time.
Ojeda singled with one out in the eighth - he's really about the only player off the bench that I have been pleased to see enter a game all season for the Diamondbacks. His OPS+ of 112 trails only Conor Jackson on the entire roster: why he isn't batting lead-off on a more regular basis than once a week, beats me. However, Drew and Upton both struck out behind him, and that was it for Arizona, as we went down meekly in the ninth. The deficit at that point was four runs, as Rosales showed no inclination to repeat his performance from Thursday, walking the first two batters he faced, who both came around to score.
Probably the best thing about the entire night was the fireworks, and they were almost taken away from us, as the result of high winds. Fortunately, they avoided a riot by letting them go ahead, even if they were delayed to let part of the capacity crowd from the outfield bleachers onto the edges of the park so they could see the show. Musically, it was a mix of the good [Stars and Stripes Forever], the bad [John Mellencamp's R.O.C.K in the U.S.A] and the ugly [Proud to be an American, my most hated 'patriotic' song, by quite some margin], but you really can't go wrong blowing things up to the 1812 Overture, can you?
- We didn't get a T-shirt either, and we arrived about half an hour before first pitch. I think they'd just run out at that point.
- Brought our own food, knowing the lines for concessions would be monstrous. Bizarrely, our cheese was the victim of special scrutiny by the security guard, apparently convinced it was some kind of plastique.
- The game was announced as a full house, but regardless of the number, there were definitely not 49,110 people in attendance. The row in front of ours was half-empty, though admittedly that was an exception. But you could see empty seats scattered throughout the ballpark.
- I fear this may seem churlish, but did there have to be so much mention of the military? I was kinda under the impression Independence Day was for celebrating all the good things about the nation, not just the armed forces. You wouldn't know it from last night though, which felt a lot more Memorial Day or Veteran's Day.
- That said: when they announced a soldier would throw out the first pitch...and this man with no legs and in combat fatigues, rolls towards the mound in a wheelchair... I don't think I've participated in a more well-deserved standing ovation.
- Good trivia question, following on from Thursday's comeback. What was the previous biggest ninth-inning revival by Arizona? The answer is three runs, in this game against Montreal in 1999, where we trailed 6-3 going into the ninth, but won 8-6.
- W00t! Free Diamondbacks' dogs! Or, at least, a coupon for one at Circle-K. We were in the "Rooting for Relish" section when it came time for the Hot-Dog Derby, and lo, our sausage pulled it out at the last minute. Er, if you see what I mean.
- Way to go, home team, taking the crowd out of it by feeble efforts at the plate, giving us nothing to cheer about. The loudest they got was trying to get Dan Haren through the last out of the seventh - without, I was pleased to see, prompting from the two-headed Minessa beast.
- No real problems getting out. We'd parked at my job, two blocks east of Chase, and largely sailed down the back streets to the freeway. Local knowledge and a parking permit are very helpful. :-)
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Master of his domain: Dan Haren, +8.8%
God-emperor of suck: Justin Upton, -13.5%
Dishonorable mentions: Reynolds, -11.5%; Young -11.1%; Montero -10.7%
Thanks to those who took time off from their festive fun to post in the thread: that would be, unnamedDBacksfan, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, soco, emilylovesthedbacks, kishi, 4 Corners Fan, luckycc, nargel, Muu, dbacksfan01, peeklay, garyho, victor frankenstein and TwinnerA. Oh, look; our lead has basically evaporated, as the Dodgers won, we didn't and so now stand a massive one-half game clear at the top of the division, and face Jake Peavy tonight. Enjoy first-place while it lasts, folks - odds are, it's not going to be around for very much longer.
My tolerance of the complacency shown by management - summed up as, "Oh, we'll be alright, this is just a blip" - has now gone. We either start playing better or things will have to change. I'm not quite sure what those things might be. Sending Upton to Triple-A might be a start - look at the Braves, who just sent Francoeur down to the minors, and this is his fourth season in the majors. However, who do we have that we could pull up to replace him? DFA Burke, bring D'Antona up; that might be a start. Restrict Qualls to mop-up work. But, really, the phrase "re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind.
We need something much more, and for managing basically the same team that had an NL-best 90 wins last year, to losing 28 of the last 43... Hey, I didn't see him refusing the Manager of the Year award, so shouldn't be held responsible for the recent failings of the team too? However, I can guarantee you that nothing will happen for at least another two weeks, simply because it's Bob Melvin Bobblehead Night on July 19th, and it would be too troublesome to replace 25,000 heads with Kirk Gibson ones. Based on where we were two weeks ago, we'll be 3.5 behind the Dodgers by that point.
Of course, offense alone does not win you the game. Just ask the Marlins, who last night became the first team to score seventeen times and lose, since the 1979 Cubs went down 22-23 to the Phillies. The Rockies sterling comeback, from 13-4 down in the fourth, was almost as spectacular as ours on Thursday - the WP for the Rockies at their nadir, of 0.9%, was one-tenth above ours. That game sure helped my fantasy team: between them, Willingham and Atkins, along with Hardy who had another four-hit game for Milwaukee, went 11-for-16 with six runs and seven RBI. After another dismal offensive performance like last night's, I have to take comfort where I can find it.
Finally, please join me in welcoming Zephon to the list of authors, with special responsibility for our minor-league system. He's been covering prospects for a bit, and will shortly be adding a minor-league round-up, so it seemed only fair to give him the ability to post directly, rather than through Fanposts. Which I inevitably promote to the front-page anyway. :-) I appreciate the informative posts, and they always seem to stimulate discussion.