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Diamondbacks 2, Reds 3: The Micah Strikes Back

Record 72-75. Pace: 79-83. Change on last season: -11
Elimination number: 11. Playoff odds: 3.2%

You could have seen this one coming. In his first at-bat for his new team, Micah Owings doubled home the go-ahead run in the tenth inning, bringing victory to the Cinicinnati Reds over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Well, there's a shocker. If there were ever any doubt the season was over, this ninth-inning blown lead, and tenth-inning loss, has probably removed any such questionmarks.

The game wasn't televised here in Arizona, so I don't have a great deal of information to base this recap on, except for reports in the media, Gameday Thread comments and the box-score. None of them give me much cause for believing this was other than another wretched performance by the offense in particular, with a late assist coming out of the bullpen. Two runs on seven hits, with one of those runs coming courtesy of a hit batter with the bases loaded. In the past eight games, we have gone 1-7, scored a total of nineteen runs, got past three once and batted a collective line of .198/.292/.308. Yes, the entire team has hit below the Uecker line.

Perhaps surprisingly, it's not quite the worse run of the year. In the eight games from June 19-27, the team scored a mere fifteen runs, and hit .196/.260/.269. But if you expand the range back to the eighteen games since August 24, the results are almost as bad; 4-14, 55 runs scored, .217/.300/.350 - that does appear to be the lowest batting-average we've managed as a team, over any comparable period this year. Arizona certainly had their chances, putting the lead-off runner on, in each of the first four innings, but were unable to do anything much with them:
   1st: Drew singled. Caught stealing.
   2nd: Dunn singled + Reynolds walked. Strikeout, flyball, lineout.
   3rd: Johnson walk. Loaded with one out, Dunn grounds into double-play.
   4th: Reynolds singled. Out advancing.

All told, the Diamondbacks were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position: add in their lack-luster performance in this area yesterday, and they are 2-for-22 overall during this series. That's perhaps the only comforting thing I can take from this: the skill of clutch hitting being largely a myth, according to most studies, these numbers will come around eventually. And this year, the team's numbers with runners in scoring position have overall been better: an OPS of .794, compared to .735 overall:
   Bases empty: .242/.306/.403 = .709 OPS
   Men on base: .259/.350/.420 = .770 OPS
   RISP: .260/.364/.430 = .794 OPS

We finally scraped a run across in the fifth, again after getting the lead-off man aboard. Upton doubled, the ball landing in a triangle of Reds fielders, and one out later, Drew singled to put runners on the corners [that was the one hit with RISP] - Ojeda then grounded out, but advanced both men, bringing the run home. That tied the game at one: Johnson had allowed an RBI double in the first, but then shut out the Reds the rest of the way, finishing with one run in six innings of work, on five hits and two walk and getting his fourth consecutive no-decision. Cruz pitches a scoreless seventh, while Slaten and Rauch combined to post a zero in the eighth.

Cruz was in line for the victory, as the Diamondbacks - with a little help from their colleagues in red - took the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Upton doubled and Clark walked; Drew bunted them across [good job this game wasn't on TV] and Ojeda failed to get the run in this time, grounding to third. Young walked on four straight pitches and Adam Dunn drove in his second RBI in consecutive games without having to swing the bat, this time getting hit on a 1-0 pitch by Roenicke, making his major-league debut. But Reynolds struck out swinging to end the scoring for Arizona.

The ninth saw Chad Qualls apparently unavailable - which seems a bit odd, given he threw just six pitches on Friday, after a day off Thursday. So, Melvin sent in Tony Peña instead, though it now seems that whoever he sends out there is immediately afflicted by some kind of curse. The Reds got two hits to put runners on first and third with one out, but it looked like we might escape as a strong throw on an outfield fly-ball from Upton, kept the runner at third. However, Miguel Montero inexplicably let the ball get past him and let the tying run score.

From there, the Reds scoring in extra innings to defeat us was almost inevitable: that it was Owings who drove in the game-winning run was simply the icing on the cake. The Diamondbacks went down meekly, in order, in the tenth, Upton and Salazar striking out to end things. Peña took the loss, giving our bullpen their 26th loss of the season, and running their record to 2-10 since the All-Star break. It's also our tenth defeat of the year where Arizona were leading after seven innings. Another overly-long game: a minute above four hours, so a quantum of solace [coming soon, to a theater near you!] is that Jessica Simpson will have been held up by the pesky baseball game.

Contrast the other ten-inning games we've played: the longest was only 3:36, and one of them were still done in less than three hours. The contest was not exactly held up with runners clogging the base-paths either - here's how it compares to the other four-hour games we've played this year:
   April 26 @SDP: 13 innings, 15 runs, 20 hits, 4:02
   July 11 @PHI: 12 innings, 11 runs, 28 hits, 4:03
   July 18 vs. LAD: 11 innings, 15 runs, 26 hits: 4:15
   September 13 vs. CIN: 10 innings, 5 runs, 15 hits, 4:03

[Click to enlarge in new window]
Master of his domain: Randy Johnson, +23.0%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Peña, -48.0%
Dishonorable mention: Montero, -19.5%; Tracy, -12.3%

Thanks to those present in the Gameday Thread: kishi, foulpole, unnamedDBacksfan, Scrbl, mrssoco, 4 Corners Fan, snakecharmer, AZWILDCATS, Counsellmember, TwinnerA, damdrs1717, Zephon, emilylovesthedbacks, Azreous, Muu, soco, golfmanthee, jazzbo13, Gravity, Snakebitten, Turambar and ASUJon. Gameday Thread for this afternoon's game will be up in a few minutes.