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Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Arizona Fails to Keep Wolf At Bay

Record: 2-4. Pace: 54-108. Change on last season: -2

Last season, the Diamondbacks went 8-10 against the Dodgers, and winning only 3 of 10 in the final three series last year was what doomed the Arizona's post-season chances. Arizona ends the opening week of the 2009 season against the Dodgers, and unfortunately, if this series against them is any indication, the DBacks have a _lot_ of work to do! After winning 9-4 in Game 1 on Friday and losing 11-2 in Game 2 on Saturday, the rubber match today seemed like a good matchup - new staff ace (see below) Dan Haren against the Dodgers' #2 man Randy Wolf. 

Wolf struggled against San Diego last week (6 innings, 4 runs), but he quite simply dominated the Diamondbacks up and down the lineup. The Diamondbacks scored their first run on some small ball in the 1st inning - Felipe Lopez doubled, Chris Young sacrificed him to third, and Stephen Drew drove him in with a sac fly to the weakest L.A. outfielder, Juan Pierre. Lopez's double would be the only hit the DBacks would get until the 8th inning

It was Wolf who drove in the Dodgers' first run, on a play that caused a lot of confusion in the gameday thread and the broadcast booth. (In fact, Yahoo's play-by-play doesn't even recognize how the run scored.) Haren was in trouble after walking Ethier to lead off the 2nd inning and Pierre singled to right and stole second base. Haren caught Wolf's line drive to start a 1-4 double play - but Lopez took his time tagging out Juan Pierre rather than simply stepping on second base. That extra time allowed Ethier to score from third. But wait, you're saying, Ethier didn't tag up after Haren caught the line drive, the run doesn't count!! That's true - if the Diamondbacks had appealed the play in time. It is up to the defense, not the umpires, to make sure the runners leave on time. According to Rule 7.10:

Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when —
(a) After a fly ball is caught, he fails to retouch his original base before he or his original base is tagged;
Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play. If the violation occurs during a play which ends a half-inning, the appeal must be made before the defensive team leaves the field.
For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has "left the field" when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or clubhouse.
(Emphasis mine.) It was Torre's bench coach, Bob Schaefer, who recognized the so-called "fourth out play" and Arizona didn't realize the mistake until everyone had headed to the bench. Personally, I don't blame Melvin for not realizing the obscure, crazy situation. I choose to blame Lopez who took his sweet time to personally tag out Juan Pierre, stepping over second base in the process! Had he instead stepped on the base, Ethier would not have scored before the third out of the inning was made. Dan Haren was understandably upset, but the correct call was made. 

Haren was good today, but not great. He gave up another run in the 3rd, and he had thrown over 60 pitches before getting out of the inning. He was fairly economical the rest of the way, ending up with 100 pitches to end the 6th. Haren gave up four hits and three walks, striking out only two. Meanwhile, Wolf was mowing us down in order, inning after inning. He pitched into the 8th, allowing only two hits, two walks and one run, striking out five. After an intentional walk to Snyder in the 2nd, Wolf retired 19 Diamondbacks in a row until Tracy singled to lead off the 8th. The DBacks threatened in the 8th when Lopez singled with two outs to put two men on, but CY swung at Kuo's first pitch of the at-bat (after a great battle by Lopez before him) to ground out and end the inning. The Dodgers added an insurance run off of Rauch (no surprise there) in the top of the 9th, and the Diamondbacks went quietly on 12 pitches by Mark Grace's favorite "large human," Jonathan Broxton, to end the game. 

[Click to enlarge, at]
Master of his domain: Dan Haren (pitching), +10.3% (the only player above 10%)
God-emperor of suck: Chris Young, -18.7%

Fairly quiet gameday thread today - only 16 people accounted for 449 comments. Present today were snakecharmer, Jim McLennan, soco, Azreous, kishi, AF DBacks Fanatic, unnamedDBacksfan, hotclaws, mrssoco, ASUJon, NewJackCity, Quin, Wimb, damdrs1717 (who needs to watch his language lest he find himself banned again), Sordid, and victor frankenstein.

As mentioned earlier, Haren is the new staff ace because Webb was placed on the 15-day DL with his sore shoulder. He and Melvin are optimistic that it won't be long since the MRIs are clear. Though it makes sense just to activate Scherzer a day early, Josh Byrnes' comments during the game day indicated they'll pull up a reliever to have in the 'pen.

Audio courtesy of KTAR 620

St. Louis, fresh off a sweep of the Astros, come to town tomorrow, and Davis, Scherzer and Garland are the scheduled starters. The pitching staff needs to be on guard with Albert Pujols and the St. Louis offense, while the Diamondbacks need to get out of their slump and return to playing smart baseball. See ya'll tomorrow.