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Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 5: Who Wants to Live Forever?

Record: 71-71. Pace: 81-81. Change on last season: -8.
Elimination number: 17. Playoff odds: 32.1% [the lowest since April 4]

In Affectionate Remembrance of
The Diamondbacks 2008 Season
which died at Chavez Ravine on 7th September, 2008
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances
N.B.—The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Dodger Stadium.

If you need to point to a single pitch where the Arizona Diamondbacks' hopes of post-season baseball crumbled this year, it came in the sixth inning today. With one man out and Mark Reynolds on third-base. Chris Snyder was asked to put down a bunt. Yes, Chris Snyder: who had homered and doubled in the game already. Snyder: who had thirteen hits in his last 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Snyder: with a total of ten sacrifice hits in his entire career. But Melvin's obsession with the sacrifice proved too strong to resist. The result was inevitable: Snyder missed the pitch down and away and Special K, coming home from third on the suicide squeeze was tagged out easily. Bad management + poor execution = FAIL. I think we've seen the truth of that demonstrated more times than I care to remember all season.

From that point on this afternoon, the Dodgers' comeback was inevitable. Scherzer allowed a walk and a single to put men on the corners with no outs, and although Qualls stopped the rally with only a sacrifice fly, the arrival of Jon Rauch for the seventh put another nail into the Diamondbacks coffin. He may be large. He may be heavily-tattooed. He also sucks farts out of dead dogs, pitching-wise, and ran his record to 0-4 since coming to Arizona, as he conceded an earned run for the seventh time in nine outings. But he's cheap! And under our control through the next ice-age!

Admittedly, Rauch was not helped by three errors in the frame. The first was by Adam Dunn, who looks every bit as uncomfortable at first as he did in right-field. He fell over while trying to field an attempted bunt: after a lead-off double, that led to runners on the corners, no outs. Then Justin Upton dropped the ball while trying to transfer it to his throwing hand in right: sacrifice fly. Finally - although, for some bizarre reason, this one was scored as a hit - Stephen Drew booted a ball driven straight to him, allowing the runner to scurry home from third for an insurance run. The inability to execute basic fundamentals, another common theme of the 2008 season, again cost Arizona dearly.

As did the large number of wasted opportunities for the Diamondbacks, starting in the first inning, when we had the bases loaded against Kershaw, with only one man out. However, Chris Young popped out harmlessly to first-base and Mark Reynolds grounded to third, frittering away a chance to come out with guns blazing and make a statement that we weren't going to roll over. Instead, it was the Dodgers who did so, also getting men in scoring position with one out in their half of the first, and they did not waste the chance, a broken-bat bleeder to center-field scoring two runs. The Diamondbacks did come back, with solo homers from Snyder and Adam Dunn, and a double down the line from our catcher in the fourth gave us hope, and a 3-2 lead.

That was especially true as Max Scherzer, after some initial wobbles, was mowing down the opposition in fine style. He retired the Dodgers in order during the third, fourth and fifth innings - striking out eight of the nine batters he faced in that time. He finished with eleven K's in five innings of work, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. He certainly won the battle of young pitching phenoms, Kershaw only lasting four innings, also giving up three runs on six hits and a walk, with just four strikeouts. But I imagine that Los Angeles will not really be too bothered about that, being more concerned about the win that leaves them with a 1.5 game lead over the Diamondbacks. We've gone 3-10 in the last thirteen games, including 1-5 against the Dodgers, and our playoff chances resemble the parrot from Monty Python:

He's not pining! He's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Chris Snyder, +16.3%
Honorable mentions: Dunn, +14.9%; Qualls, +11.3%
God-emperor of suck: Jon Rauch, -18.8%
Dishonorable mentions: Upton, -16.9%; Eckstein, -14.6%;
Scherzer, -11.5%, Jackson, -10.7%

What? Less than a hundred comments in the Gameday Thread? How did that happen? Well, the absence of a thread until the fifth inning likely helps there. I would have started it myself, but spent the game over at shoe's, watching it with him and TAP among others. We left the house at 12:15, safe in the knowledge that the thread was in good hands, and certain that, while kishi has been a little later than usual, he would be posting it Any Moment Now... kishi has been optioned down to Triple-A to work on his fundamentals, and I'll be returning to the rotation myself, as of tomorrow. I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Thanks to those who did show up: kishi, TwinnerA, AZWILDCATS, Azreous, Scrbl, snakecharmer and Wimb. Also thanks to shoe for being a fine host this afternoon, and also to TAP and Steve for sharing in the frustration that this series has brought. As shoe pointed out, when Melvin says, "We'll see what we're made of," he is either missing the point entirely or simply being phenomenally diplomatic. The team's struggles after the end of April are not an issue of character: it's an issue of suckage. Since the start of May, this team is 51-63, averaging less than 4.2 runs per game and batting .246. The performance over the first month was a mirage, and we've been doing little since except hoping for a re-occurrence.

Onwards to San Francisco, but I have little hope left for the stretch run. Yes, Bob: we did indeed see what the Diamondbacks were made of this afternoon. It appears to be styrofoam, balsa wood and groundless optimism, assembled by a committee of inept third-graders.