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Diamondbacks 4, Padres 5: Qualls for Concern

Record: 68-65. Pace: 83-79. Change on last season: -6
Magic number: 27. Playoffs odds: 69.8%

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There isn't much I can add to the above, posted in a paroxysm of rage after the game this afternoon. Harsh? Perhaps. But I've had enough of the failings of a relief corps that's a huge part of why Arizona has lost fifteen games where we were leading after six innings. That's tied for most in the majors, with the Cardinals; the Dodgers have only ten; the Cubs, just four and the Rays, three.  Here are the win percentages for the Diamondbacks when leading after each inning, compared to the overall major-league average:

Leading
After
AZ
Win %
MLB
Win %
1st .727 .679
2nd .733 .696
3rd .735 .739
4th .727 .775
5th .781 .817
6th .786 .854
7th .870 .906
8th .955 .955

What this shows is a particular struggle holding leads in the sixth through eighth innings, and it's the seventh inning where we fall down most - both compared to the rest of baseball, and to the Diamondbacks performance last year, where we had a win percentage of .890 when leading after six innings, more than a hundred points better. Put another way: in 2007, we won almost nine out of ten games where we finished the sixth ahead; this season, we are barely above three in four. Today was the twenty-second loss of the year for the bullpen, and they've now dropped eight straight decisions since their last victory, forty-one games ago on July 10.

Today, Chad Qualls picked up his major-league leading eighth loss in relief, coming in with a 4-3 lead and allowing two runs on three hits. The problem with such late deficits is, it gives Arizona basically no chance to come back, all the Padres needed to do to swipe this one is send Hoffman in, and he promptly retired the Diamondbacks in order, striking out the side. Game over, and we get swept by the same Padres side we swept back in Phoenix.

The offense basically only showed up in the sixth inning, where we had the majority of our nine hits, and all of our runs. There were RBI for Reynolds, Montero, Young and Johnson - the last-named had two hits in the game, the first time the Big Unit has done that since September 2003. Adam Dunn and Young also had two hits of their own, while Chris Burke reached on a pair of walks. However, we failed to do much in the other eight innings, not helped by Conor Jackson getting picked-off second base with one out in the fourth, and that came round to bite us, despite having a 4-0 lead at the seventh-inning stretch.

On the mound, Johnson was sublime up until that point, but surrendered three runs in the bottom of the seventh, the results of a triple, a single and a homer. Though it's now basically certain he won't reach 300 wins this season, it's hard to combine when the Big Unit gave Arizona his eighth quality start in a row. It says something about the Diamondbacks offense, that Randy's streak is only good enough to net him four victories, as Johnson received better than four runs of support only once in those eight outings, and has averaged just 2.9 per game. Today, it was three runs in seven innings, on five hits and just one walk, with nine strikeouts.

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[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Randy Johnson, +14.2%
God-emperor of suck: Chad Qualls, -51.8%
Dishonorable mention: Stephen Drew, -15.8%

An understandably-frustrated Gameday Thread, brightened for about an inning and half, then returning to the gloom whence it came. Thanks to 'charmer for getting it up there, as I got bogged-down at work: on the whole, however, it might have been better if she hadn't bothered! Present were kishi, DbacksSkins, snakecharmer, 4 Corners Fan, srdmad, Wimb, Azreous, unnamedDBacksfan, TwinnerA, jaydubsped, azwebber17 and Gravity.

At least the Dodgers lost, going down by a single run to the even-more woeful Nationals for the second day in a row. But don't look now: as a result of recent suckage by ourself and Los Angeles, the Rockies have picked up 3.5 games since Saturday, so are now only 5.5 games back. And at time of writing, Colorado are 1-0 up in the sixth against San Francisco, with Lincecum being out-duelled by - of all people! - Livan Hernandez. Welcome to Bizarro World!

An off-day tomorrow, so at least we can't lose. Hopefully the Dodgers will, fulfilling my expectations that they would do as well against Washington, as we did against San Diego. Each of us getting swept....not exactly what I had in mind with that prediction, admittedly. Here's hoping the team can come back to Phoenix and get their mojo rising in time for the weekend.