Record: 76-77. Pace: 80-82. Change on last season: -10
Elimination number: 6 (and counting). Playoff odds: narwhal to be found
With such fleeting opportunities down the stretch to have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs, nights like tonight are ones that have to be seized. Twiddling thumbs and hoping the Dodgers lose is one thing when you cling to a small division lead, but when coming from behind, that luxury disappears. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of a young phenom and a couple of crushed home runs, that wasn't meant to be on this night.
Max Scherzer put up another fantastic outing, and still came up short of his first big league victory. He went six strong innings, giving up three runs on seven hits but striking out eight and walking just one. The only real damage was a couple of solo shots on pitches that weren't that bad. He looked his best in the sixth, when Iannetta and Barmes came to the plate with runners on second and third with one out after a wild pitch. He struck them both out, setting down Barmes on his 98th pitch, and escaped the jam himself. Still, Max didn't get the memo about having to drive in his own runs, and was stuck hoping for the Diamondbacks to score some runs in the top of the seventh -- which, unsurprisingly, they did not. Here's Max's numbers from his last five starts. Note the Big Unit-esque W/L results:
0-2, 28 IP, 22 H, 7 ER, 10 BB, 39 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.16 run support while on mound
The no decision happened because the offense got off to a slow start. (If the typical start is a slow one, does it really count to call it a slow start anymore?) Only an Upton single forced De La Rosa to face anything above the minimum in the first three innings. That didn't change to start the fourth either, as Young and Jackson quietly grounded out. But Dunn reached on, of all things, an infield hit, and lumbered his way to second on a wild pitch. Upton and Reynolds both drew walks to load the bases...but Snyder lined out to end the inning and the threat. The only other bright spot against De La Rosa was Dunn's solo shot in the sixth. Young reached on a bouncer through the hole at short to lead off the eighth, but was quickly erased when CoJack's hard liner to the right side ended up being hit straight at Atkins.
In the ninth, however, Mark Reynolds looked at a pitch that juuuuust missed the outside corner for what he thought was ball four, but it was called strike two instead. Mark Reynolds was not pleased as he jogged back to the plate. Mark Reynolds hit the next pitch a good 430 feet or so, and the lead was down to one. Snyder immediately followed that up with a little flare to left, and was replaced by Romero on the basepaths. With one out, Eckstein tried to jump out of the way of a horrific Fuentes fastball, only to end up getting his knee in the way of it. He crumpled, couldn't put enough weight on it to stay in the game, and had to be replaced by Ojeda. Clark got ahead 2-0, and then flailed miserably at three fastballs. Drew pulled a pitch just foul, and fought his way to a full count before drawing a walk. With the bases juiced and two outs, Young flailed miserably at three fastballs, and the game was over.
An interesting fangraph, if only because somehow Eckstein's HBP and BB contributed the most to our chances even though he didn't end up scoring a run. Dunn and Reynolds were the only other starters in the positive thanks to their home runs. Young and Clark's inability to come through in the ninth are reflected here accordingly.
Let's see, other bright spots...well, Reynolds only struck out once, so thanks to Howard's 2 Ks tonight, they are once again tied for the league lead. Rauch and Lyon both pitched scoreless innings, rareties for them in the past two months. And Scherzer was fantastic again. But all that amounted to was another loss and another day of hoping the Dodgers lose (which they were doing, 3-0, at the time of writing). What little chance remains for the playoffs shrunk even further with a wasted opportunity like tonight.
Less bright spots: 11 consecutive road losses, four-game winning streak snapped, 37 runs in the past 14 games. Twelve of 14 games with three runs or less. Including the wasted chances with the bases loaded, it was another 0-fer night with RISP -- 0-for-5 tonight. A laundry list of futility that no one wants to read.
Quiet GDT, although it's not all that surprising at this point. Less than 200 comments, and they ranged from resigned to noncommittal. Thanks to 4 Corners Fan, DbacksSkins, Jim McLennan, TwinnerA, Shums, kishi, AZWILDCATS, unnamedDBacksfan, Zephon and Scrbl.
Tomorrow, it's Doug Davis against Aaron Cook. Neither gave up an earned run in their last start -- Cook with eight shutout innings, Davis with seven and just an unearned run. Of course, this is Coors FIeld, where baseballs go to die. Even these oft-anemic offenses have the potential to go off at anytime.