Record: 2-2. Pace: 81-81. Change on last season: 0
It's amazing how quickly things can turn in this game. By the middle of the third inning, the Diamondbacks were only one run down, but things were looking bleak. Dodgers' starter James McDonald had retired all six hitters he'd faced, and the fates - at least, the men in blue - were conspiring against us, with the LA runner who scored having actually been thrown out while stealing second. The SnakePit Magic 8-Ball was shaken and came up with "Drink. Drink Heavily." [It's a somewhat eccentric creature].
Chris Young, dropped to the seven-spot after going 1-for-12 in the Opening Series, led off the third for Arizona. He had an excellent at-bat, working the count full and seeing all McDonald's arsenal. On the eighth pitch, CY got into one - somewhat under it, but enough to drop into the front row of the stands and tie the game at one apiece. While McDonald got Chris Snyder to fly out, Jon Garland, in his first at-bat as an NL pitcher, walked, and it was clear the Dodgers hurler was rattled. He walked Felipe Lopez, grazed Eric Byrnes to load the bases, then walked Stephen Drew to give Arizona the lead. Conor Jackson went the other way, singling home two runs, and that was the end of James's first major-league start, though he was also charged with a fifth run after he left. There may indeed be a trip for McDonald to the farm in his near future.
That gave Garland enough of a lead, he could do what he does best - pitch to contact and let the defense behind him tidy up. There was a minor issue with that in the first inning, when he threw over to try and pick Mandy off first - not apparently realizing that Chad Tracy was playing behind the runner and not on the bag. Oops. However, all that was forgotten in the wake of the five-run third, and Garland then faced the minimum nine batters over the next three innings, ending the sixth by getting Ethier to roll into a double-play, with Ramirez [on first] dogging it totally, barely walking towards second. Mandy went 2-for-3, but was basically a non-factor. Garland did surrender a two-run homer in the seventh, but it was a very impressive debut, allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks.
Things did get a little nervous in the eighth, as Tony Pena let the Dodgers creep to within two runs, and brought the tying run at the plate for Los Angeles. Pena was replaced by Scott Schoeneweis, and our left-handed pitcher did exactly what he was supposed to do - get left-handed batters out, in the shape of groundballs from Ethier and Loney. Tensions were eased significantly by the Diamondbacks adding three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, on RBI hits from Augie Ojeda, Lopez and Jackson, which restored the five-run lead. Though no longer a save situation, Chad Qualls had already warmed up and was brought in to pitch a low-impact, stress-free ninth, with a two-out single the only bump in his progress towards sealing the win for the Diamondbacks.
Chris Young was, clearly, our offensive star, falling a triple short of the cycle and adding a walk to his three hits. Felipe Lopez added two hits and a walk, almost getting his third homer of the season - he flipped his bat and trotted away towards first in the eighth inning, but it hung up [perhaps because the roof was closed due to high winds] and came down a couple of feet short for a double. Conor Jackson had two hits, while Eric Byrnes broke his season zero, with a hit and a walk. The Diamondbacks reached double-digits in hits for the first time since Opening Day, and also had six walks, compared to only three strikeouts, so had their best performance in terms of total base-runners. After a couple of games where the offense basically didn't show up, it was very, very nice to see them again.
Basically a thousand comments in the Gameday Thread [there probably will be by the morning!] - I should probably have kicked off a second thread, but I didn't want to risk jinxing anything, and it seemed to be running smoothly enough. Taking part were: DKuon, Azreous, Wimb, kishi, hotclaws, DbacksSkins, AF DBacks Fanatic, Bcawz, TwinnerA, unnamedDBacksfan, mrssoco, leemellon, Quin, Wactivist, 4 Corners Fan, Wailord, soco, Gravity, Brendan Scolari. Thanks to all of them for their contributions (some of the topics were educational, if perhaps not entirely family-friendly!), and Wailord in particular for coming up with the title for this recap, as well as Wactiviist, hotclaws and kishi for their credible entries. Okay, Chris Young didn't really say "McDonald has no arm," but I will happily sacrifice truth on the altar of a good headline.
Arizona got several bits of good news on the pitching front. Firstly, a precautionary MRI on Brandon Webb's arm revealed no apparent structural damage, and he is optimistic he should make his next start in San Francisco on Friday. Manager Bob Melvin said, "I know yesterday he felt a lot better. He was in here getting some work down with our training staff. The stiffness was out of there, so hopefully that's progress." And tomorrow has become a battle of spot starters, since the Dodgers' Kuroda has been forced onto the DL, and is replaced by Eric Stuts for Los Angeles. Our chances of taking the game - and now the series - increased significantly as a result. Tom Gordon had a good session facing live hitters, while Max Scherzer had a solid rehab start with Visalia on Thursday. He threw 95 pitches, touched 96 mph and allowing one hit in 4.2 innings with five K's - he's ready for Tuesday's game against St. Louis.
Just watching the MLB Network recap show, and a lot of ex-Diamondbacks getting coverage. Scott Hairston made a fabulous leaping grab at the fence to take a home-run away from Bengie Molina - he also had a three-run homer - while former catcher Koyie Hill went deep for the Cubs. And Emilio Bonifacio, traded to the Nationals for Jon Rauch, continued his blistering start to the season with three more hits, and is 11-for-19 with four stolen bases this year. He also scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, to send the Marlins to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. I don't mind too much our ex-players doing well elsewhere - as long as they don't do it against us!
[Morning update] Here's the audio, which is Webb talking about missing Saturday's start, his surprise regarding the insurance concerns and still expressing the hope that he will re-sign with the Diamondbacks. I also got a clip in which Mandy calls our starting pitcher "Gayland," but there is no way I am prepared to desecrate the 'Pit with that greasy-haired jerk, so you'll just have to take my word for it. ;-)
Audio courtesy of KTAR 620