Record: 73-76. Pace: 79-83. Change on last season: -10
Elimination number: 9. Playoff odds: scant
It's a sad commentary on the recent state of the Diamondbacks' offense, that three runs seems like an offensive explosion. But truth is, we've gone any higher only once in the past ten games, reaching the dizzy heights of...er four, last Tuesday in San Francisco. Such has been the Sisyphean struggle of Arizona, and tonight proved no exception, as the team was once again held hitless with runners in scoring position. For those keeping track at home, that makes the team 2-for-38 in such situations on this homestand to date.
Still, men on second or third? Vastly over-rated. We just need Justin Upton to crush his second homer in successive games, this one almost as far as Sunday's, and a few feet closer to the batter's eye in left-center. And then, after David Eckstein fails to put down a bunt to move Chris Young to second, Adam Dunn rendered it moot by crushing his 37th homer of the year, an absolute no-doubter that was last seen entering a low Earth orbit, somewhere over Finland. That will certainly help redeem Dunn, who failed to come through in a couple of big situations over the weekend, and who heard about it in no uncertain terms from the Chase Field crowd. Tonight, they cheered him to the rafters: is that fickleness or simply rewarding the performance we expected when we traded for the Treadmill?
Overshadowed, but no less important in the overall context of things, was a sterling performance from Doug Davis, who threw seven innings of solid baseball. The only run which the Giants scored off him was unearned, the result of Chris Young sloppily clanking a ball off his glove in the outfield with two outs in the top of the third, an error which allowed Aurilia to come all the way home from first. He scattered eight hits but didn't walk any Giants batters, and it was probably his best outing since going 7.2 innings of two-hit ball in San Diego on July 29. It's probably too late, but it has been good to see our starting pitching come round: that's now 27 innings with just two earned runs in the past four games.
Congratulations to Josh Whitesell, who made his first start in the majors, covering first-base and also got his debut hit with a seventh-inning bloop into center. Probably just as memorable was the gut-check he delivered to Pablo Sandoval, in lieu of trying to field Special K's wild throw. The ball ended up in the dugout, Sandoval ended up eating dirt and Reynolds got his 31st error of the season. Just another strange play in a very odd couple of weeks for the Diamondbacks. Eight hits - Upton had a double in addition to his homer - but no walks for Arizona, though they only struck out twice. J-Up has been on fire since returning to the big leagues at the end of last month: he's hitting [14-for-36] for an overall line of .389/.463/.694, an OPS of 1.157.
Tony Peña and Chad Qualls came out and dropped the hammer on the Giants for the eighth and ninth, retiring all six batters they faced. The former, in particular, seemed to have something to prove, inflicting the Peña (as it were) on the San Francisco hitters with some nasty stuff - he fanned two of the three to come to the plate in the eighth. Qualls then sent them down in order, 1-2-3, to send the crowd of 25,969 home happy. Though I have to say, watching the game on television, it looked a good few less than that actually bothered to show up, unless I missed the memo announcing tonight's Cloak of Invisibility give-away.
Probably a fair assessment of proceedings. Dunn's blast obviously was crucial to things, but it would have been an irrelevance if Davis hadn't done such a good job of handcuffing the Giants for the first seven innings. Another excellent outing for Double-D, but one which has no effect on his won-loss record. In his ten no-decisions this year, he has an ERA of just 3.09, including seven quality starts. Still, that pales beside Dan Haren: over his eight no-decisions, he has seven quality starts [last Wednesday was his first non-QS ND] and a 2.47 ERA. That's hardly any higher than when Haren gets a win (2.33). I'm not aware of any way to research these things, but I can't imagine there can have been many unluckier pitchers in the majors this season.
An entertaining if somewhat off-topic Gameday Thread, though I am more inclined to cut some slack in this area, as the season winds down and the Diamondbacks book tee times and hunting expeditions. Somehow, discussions about the natural history of the now-extinct Gyro bird, or the etiquette of breaking-up by text message, seem somehow less inappropriate than they did when we were in the heat of a pennant race. Present tonight were snakecharmer, kishi, TwinnerA, unnamedDBacksfan, AF DBacks Fanatic, Muu, AZWILDCATS, Diamondhacks, Scrbl, DbacksSkins, soco, mrssoco, 4 Corners Fan, emilylovesthedbacks, Azreous, and pepperdinedevil.
Dodgers won, so we remain 4.5 games out, if anyone is really following. To put that into context, should Los Angeles split their remaining fourteen games, we would need to go 12-3 to force a one-game playoff. Now, if our starting pitching can keep on performing at the level they have these last few days, anything is (marginally) possible. But the offense is going to need to start scoring more than three runs on a very regular basis if we are to have any chance of staging a Rockies-like resurrection and make things interesting into the final week.