Record: 68-61. Pace: 85-77. Change on last season: -4
Magic number: 31. Playoff odds 73.8%
Much, much better. That was a huge improvement in just about every way: our starting pitching went from good to excellent, the bullpen locked it down, we tacked on extra runs when necessary and the defense was rock-solid. All this and a Dodgers loss: how could the day have got any better?
Well, you can add seeing it with a really great bunch of people, as DBBP/SnakePitFest '08 was a roaring success I think. We sat in Sliders' for three hours before the game, doling out fifty or so tickets to all those who'd signed up: some people went to the Q+A with Josh Byrnes before the game, but others showed up steadily until almost first pitch. Sympathy in particular to the Tucson crew, as the traffic from there was, by all accounts, utterly dreadful, but they [mostly] made it here just in time, albeit not in time to get their Eric Byrnes bobbleheads. We did, with Mrs. SnakePit debating whether or not to apply a Band-Aid to its knees...
As well as our 80's attire, Mrs. SnakePit had acquired red pom-poms for everyone, and they proved remarkably popular in our section: we were spread over fragments of eight rows, but it proved remarkably sociable, people moving back and forth to chat. It was particularly great to put some new names to faces: Wesley, Phil, Ann and Emily, as well as all those I already knew, too numerous to mention. We were screaming like mad fools: insanity has power in numbers it seems.
We did check in on the Pit, thanks to Chris's new phone, but couldn't work out how to login and post. Still, we did a roll-call of the posters for those present at the park! Fun, fun times: we really should do it again, but I doubt it's going to be this season. "We should get a suite next time," said Mrs. SnakePit. Hey, mortgage payments: they're vastly over-rated. :-) I'm sure those with cameras will post their embarrassing pics in due course. Till then, you'll have to make do with this text recap of the game.
The Petit Unit continues to defy all statistical expectations, reducing his already-insane WHIP with six innings of two-hit ball against his old team [I wonder what Jorge Julio is doing these days? Ah, pitching in the minors for the Braves], walking none and striking out six. The only damage allowed was a solo home-run to Hanley Ramirez, leading off the fourth: he was helped out by an amazing defensive play later in that inning from Special K, diving to one side, then throwing out Cantu from his knees. Yusmeiro has now allowed 31 hits and seven walks in 47.2 innings, and consideration has to be given to skipping Doug Davis in the rotation rather than Petit.
Since the All-Star break, Petit's ERA is 2.73 in 33 innings, while DD's is 6.49 in 34.2: it may be harsh to say it, but I know who I have more confidence in right now. One wonders if articles like this one - D-Backs' Davis battling stiff back - mean that the ground is being prepared for him to take a back seat. Apparently, there was so much 'concern' on Thursday that the club pulled Scherzer from his scheduled start for the Sidewinders, in case he was needed to play here tomorrow. That now appears to be unlikely, but the article reckons we will add someone like Billy Buckner to the roster tomorrow, in case Davis has to get the quick hook.
Yusmeiro could probably have continued further - he'd thrown only 77 pitches - but was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth, after the Marlins intentionally walked Augie Ojeda to get to the pitcher's spot with one out. I suspect they perhaps didn't expect Melvin to pull Petit out at that point, but it proved a good decision, Clark delivering an RBI groundout and Drew tacking on another run with a single. The play that led to the intentional walk was a double by Montero, with Mark Reynolds being held at third. Amusingly, there was some discontent in the crowd at that decision, but our section cheered enthusiastically Chip Hale's rediscovery of the 'Stop' sign!
After Petit, we say Qualls and Pena for the next two innings, and then Rosales in the ninth, after we'd blown the game open with three runs in the bottom of the eighth: Q and P both struck out two in their inning of work. Pestileñce is looking very, very good of late, not having allowed a hit in 5.2 innings: he made an adjustment to his delivery, landing a little softer on his left leg. This had been reducing the movement on his slider, with the results we'd seen. Now, he's back in full effect: Qualls, too, is pitching very well after a rocky spell up to the All-Star break. Since then, he has a 1.29 ERA, having allowed two runs in 14 innings.
Someone we haven't seen much of is Juan Cruz, who has been all but shut down since that game on August 9, where his errant throw to second resulted in the loss of Hudson for the rest of the year. His one appearance in the two weeks since was the final inning of a 12-2 blowout. Melvin, however, denies there has been any real change or that Cruz is blacklisted in some way, pointing out that Juan was warming up, more than once, during Doug Davis's last outing. We might get to see the truth of that tomorrow, when DD takes the mound.
The offense came through early, Adam Dunn driving in a run during the first inning to give the Diamondbacks an early lead. After Ramirez had tied it up with his solo long-ball, Arizona answered the same way in the fifth, Chris Young nailing his eighteenth of the season to left. As noted above, we added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and another solo homer, this one by Montero, was followed in the eighth by RBI for Salazar and Young, to pad the lead. Drew, Young, Dunn, Tracy and Montero each had two hits, while Ojeda reached safely three times, on a hit, a walk and his team-leading ninth HBP of the season. All round, an excellent game, that was enjoyable from the beginning to the end.
- The biggest cheer of the night was for Misty May-Treanor, who was there to see her husband, the backup Marlins catcher - and, in particular, for the gold medal she yanked out of her shirt. I almost expected Augie, his next time up, to pull out his bronze medal from the 1996 baseball, just because...
- Basically a full house tonight, at 44,294, and there was a surprisingly-large queue at the gates before they opened - more than two hours before first pitch. A lot of people seemed to be going in, getting the bobble-heads and then leaving again, which makes sense, as I couldn't really imagine waiting inside the park for so long. Batting practice might be fun to watch though.
- I particularly enjoyed how they celebrated 80's Night by splicing the Diamondbacks players into various movie posters and record sleeves from that decade: everything from The Terminator [Conor Jackson] to the Thriller cover [Chris Young]. Wish there was somewhere we could download those from!
- Also enjoyed them playing Devo's iconic Whip It video, intercut with the team's best plays of the season. Been a fan of theirs for the best part of 25 years now: never thought I'd see them on the Jumbotron at Chase!
- Speaking of which, by special request from the Diamondbacks, we kept mrssoco away from the large screen, just in case of a repeat incident - which in this case, would probably have resulted in the death by crushing of our center fielder...
- When the game finished, we chanted 'Three games up! Three games up!' and reprised the chant when they put the Dodgers score on the screen. That may have been the most satisfying moment of the whole night.
For obvious reasons - like everyone being at the game! - this was a pretty quiet Gameday Thread, but thanks to those who took part before, during and after the game. That would be: snakecharmer, britdback, Counsellmember, foulpole [though since it seems he won't be reading this, I don't know why I bother...], Scrbl, hotclaws, srdmad, soco, 4 Corners Fan, TwinnerA, Omar21, njjohn, SongBird, mrssoco, Captain D Bag and Bcawz.
And tomorrow, we go for another series win. But I'm going to go to bed now, and sleep off the effects of too much beer and junk food! Thanks again to everyone who showed up, and helped make the event such a success. Good times. Good times...