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Diamondbacks 2, Padres 4: Jody Four-ster

Record: 68-63. Pace: 84-78. Change on last season: -6
Magic number: 29. Playoff odds: 71.3%.

This is slightly delayed, due to the scheduled SB Nation maintenances from last night - well-spotted by Charmer, so I was at least able to pop a warning into the Gameday Thread. Here's the diary of my thoughts, as the game unfolded last night.

Settling in, ready for our last comedy show of the summer at the Grand Comedy Tavern. Listening to the radio on our way here: it sounds like the Dodgers were losing to the Phillies, but I'm awaiting confirmation on that. It'd be helpful.

1st inning. Drew pops up foul, on a full count, but Young walks: a good start, it doesn't seem like Peavy is blowing anybody away. Looks like a hit-and-run with Jackson, which avoids the double-play. Dunn works the count full, and I'd have said he got hosed by the umpire on strike three. Ah, the out of town scoreboard shows the Dodgers did lose, 5-0. Interesting inning for Haren. There's a one out double, and the runner advances to third on a ground-out. He then gets Adrian Gonzalez on three strikes: looked like they were all fastballs, respectively high, higher and a threat to passing aircraft.

2nd inning. 1-2-3 go the Diamondbacks, with Reynolds staring at strike three, which looked largely down the pipe to me.  He seems to have been K-ing even more than usual of late, and I don't recall many homers recently, but I'd have to check that. [Confirmed: he's homerless in 59 at-bats since August 7, with 22 K's] Haren struggles a bit in the second, allowing two hits: he doesn't seem to be getting the call on balls down in the zone, though the umpire has a more generous zone inside to left-handers. He gets Peavy to ground out, and the threat is averted. So far, advantage Peavy: despite the scoreless game, he has looked better.

3rd inning. Haren tries to help his own cause with a single: he handles the bat better than any other pitcher we have and, personally, I like seeing his at-bats. He hardly ever gives his out away. I didn't seem much else of the inning, thanks to my weekly comics discussion with our comedy host: this week, the multi-threaded narrative which is The Watchmen. Nothing else happens for the Diamondbacks, and the Padres threaten again with a leadoff base-runner in the bottom of the third. Haren is falling behind a lot of the hitters, and this eventually bites him, a double to the outfield giving San Diego the lead. But the following hitters help out by swinging at balls in the dirt, and the damage is stopped there.

4th inning. Need to get the offense going. Jackson starts things off well, with a single to right. He takes second as Dunn fans on a full-count, and is in scoring position with one out for the D-backs. Tracy strikes out - the middle of the line-up is something of a K-hasm of late. Reynolds legs out an infield hit, and leaves it up to Snyder. He puts a long at-bat on Peavy - if nothing else, we're running his pitch-count up very nicely - and finally sends a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, scoring both men, Reynolds having stolen second earlier in the at-bat. Hard pounding, but we finish our half of the inning with a 2-1 lead. We need Haren to post a zero, but with two out and a man on first, another bloop single drops down the right-field line, moving the runner to third, and a hit ties the game.

5th inning. Nothing for Arizona. Absolutely nothing. Not much for San Diego either: he faces three batters, but doesn't quite manage a 1-2-3 inning, with another hit. A double-play ends that, and we rapidly move on to the...

6th inning. Jackson strikes out, but replays confirms that Peavy gets a very generous strike zone. That isn't enough to help him against The Treadmill, who does what he does and gets on base with a free pass. Tracy pops up, so nothing doing there and while Reynolds works the count full, he grounds out and the score remains tied. Four runs over a total of eleven innings for these pitchers: rather different from last week's encounter. Haren then makes it 12, and looks impressive in doing so, with his first 1-2-3 inning of the night.

7th inning. Peavy gone: that's a relief, and I think we're happy that he has left the game, and we are still level. No victory for him, but Haren is still in the game, batting for himself with two outs. Another fine at-bat there, and he drills a double to left-center for his second hit of the game. The Padres end up walking Drew intentionally, and Young has the big chance to put Arizona ahead again. However, he flies out, and the chance goes begging. Haren wanders from second to the mound. He is mowing them down and accumulates a season-high 11 strikeouts, around a single by Giles. I think the upcoming inning is probably his last chance of victory.

8th inning. Heath Bell in for the Padres: I am prepared to sacrifice my fantasy team for the good of the Diamondbacks, and let Bell concede a run. However, he refuses to co-operate, retiring Jackson, Dunn and Tracy without any major problems. Doesn't look like either starter will be involved in the decision: and given the last time our bullpen won a game was roughly back in the early Stone Age, I'm not exactly confident. Pena is up and his first pitch is slapped to right for a single, ending his hitless streak.

Drew then bobbles a potential double-play ball, and everyone is safe. Hoffman is warming in the Padres 'pen... We need a K, but instead a deep fly advances the runners to second and third: Reynolds thought he'd applied the tag. An intentional walk loads the bases, and this appears to be the game, right here. Nowhere to put him... Pena falls behind 2-0, but comes back to get a groundball to Drew, who doesn't muff this one and the game remains tied. On into the ninth, with everything to play for.

9th inning. The Padres have outhit us 10-5, which is pretty much how the first couple of games went last series: given the results there, that's not necessarily a problem. Hoffman is in for the ninth, the Padres going for the win at home, and Arizona has no luck against the all-time saves leader, being retired in order. Rauch in for the Diamondbacks: Hairston up as a pinch-hitter for the Padres. Rauch wins. An attempted bunt is thrown away by Reynolds, but the rebound off the fence is fortuitously straight back to Tracy, who gets the runner at second. That's particularly lucky, as the next runner singles, which would have scored the winning run.

However, Jody Gerut, who has killed the Diamondbacks utterly this year [now 12-for-28 with 3 HR and 6 RBI], renders it moot, hammering the first pitch into the bleachers for a walk-off home-run. Rauch gets the loss - apparently time to add him to the list of relievers we can't trust in a close game - our bullpen sinks to 0-7 since July 10, and Haren's solid outing is wasted, thanks to a lack of offense. But we remain three ahead of the Dodgers, one game better than we were on Friday, even though we have won only once since then.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Dan Haren, +20.2%
Honorable mention: Peña, +11.0%; Snyder, +10.4%
God-emperor of suck: Jon Rauch, -35.7%
Dishonorable mentions: Tracy, -13.7%; Ojeda, -11.5%, Young, -10.3%

In 16 games since coming to Arizona, Rauch now has a 6.00 ERA - mostly because he has allowed five home-runs in only 15 innings of work, responsible for seven out of the ten earned runs he has allowed. In particular, in six games since August 13th, with an admittedly small sample-size, his line is:
   Rauch: 5.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 HR, ERA 12.71, 0-3 record
We've lost three of the six games in which he has appeared: Rauch has taken the L in every one of those. I think I speak for most of us when I say we would rather not see him or Lyon appearing in contests we have any chance of winning at the moment. They should be consigned strictly to mop-up work, with Qualls and Peña being used in high-leverage situations. Particularly when Gerut is at the plate. 

Not had a chance to catch up on the Gameday Thread yet - by the time I got home last night, SB Nation was already down for maintenance. Seemed pretty busy though, so thanks to those who participated: soco, DbacksSkins, kishi, unnamedDBacksfan, emilylovesthedbacks, snakecharmer, Gravity, singaporedbacksfan, utahdbacksfan, Muu, TwinnerA, foulpole, srdmad, Scrbl, 4 Corners Fan, AJforAZ, Stile4aly, mrssoco, jaydubsped [welcome!] and Azreous.

Another quality start lost - I've given up counting how many of those we've had. However, facing Peavy was definitely the game I thought we were most likely to lose in the series, and I think we will still come back today with Webb and get him his 20th win, then take the series behind Johnson on Wednesday.