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Diamondbacks 1, Cardinals 2: Night of the Long Knives

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Record: 2-5. Pace: 46-116. Change on last season: -3

A pair of solo home-runs, by Albert Pujols and former Diamondback Brian Barden (the latter his first ever in the majors), were all the St. Louis Cardinals could manage against Doug Davis this evening. However, those two daggers to the heart proved sufficient to sent Arizona to our third straight defeat. The home offense once again failed to show up - in those three contests, we've scored a total of only four runs, and the team average is now down to 3.43 runs per game. The Diamondbacks were again hitless with runners in scoring position: we only have six such hits so far in the entire season, in 35 opportunities.

Davis became the latest member of the Arizona rotation to have a fine performance on the mound rewarded with a scarlet L. As hoped, his leftiness caused problems for St. Louis and he pitched eight innings, giving up seven hits and walking one, with five strikeouts. Davis was particularly effective with runners in scoring position [the Cardinals were equally as hitless as the Diamondbacks], and it's just unfortunate two balls left the park. Albert Pujols swatted his fourth of the season in the fourth inning, golfing a low change-up into the left-field seats: that's fair enough, since he's the best pure hitter in the National League for my money. What really stung was the game-winning run, Barden homering on a full-count pitch with one out in the eighth. Never mind it being his first in the big leagues, he had only one extra-base hit in 38 games before this.

We actually outhit the Cardinals, 9-8, but never quite seemed to get the knocks when we needed them. Arizona's best chance was probably in the third inning when Davis legged out an infield single with one down [anything Tony Clark can do...], and Felipe Lopez followed with a double to put men on second and third, still with only one away. However, Chris Young popped out and Stephen Drew grounded out, to waste the opportunity. Indeed, the words "popped out" and "fouled out" appear in the box-score for the Diamondbacks a remarkable number of times - especially since Eric Byrnes was on the bench.

Our only run came in the fourth, tying the game up at one. Conor Jackson singled to lead things off, and Chad Tracy drove him in with a double to right. The chance for any further scoring evaporated immediately, as Tracy's turn round second was too aggressive and he was nailed there on an intelligent play by cut-off man Pujols [killing Arizona dreams since 2001, any way he can, it would appear...] More damage on the base-paths took place in the seventh when Drew was caught stealing second to end the frame. The only Diamondback to get into scoring position after Tracy's brief stay there was Young with two outs in the eighth, taking second when the St. Louis left-fielder bobbled a single. But Drew grounded out, and our last chance at redemption was lost when pinch-hitter Tony Clark flew out with Mark Reynolds on first to end the ninth.

Clark was pinch-hitting for Justin Upton, who was hitless again to extend his fruitless start to the season to a dozen at-bats - it appears he was none too happy to be replaced by our veteran, either. Upton did almost go yard his first time up this evening, but the ballpark just held it in. Felipe Lopez and Drew each had a single and a double, but we showed precious little patience: no walks, and our 34 at-bats required only 111 pitches. The Cardinals were even less inclined to hang around, seeing 106 - Davis's eight frames required only 96 pitches, and the game was over in 2:22, which must be close to record pace for any game involving Doug! It's even ten minutes quicker than the 1-0 win he posted for us over the Dodgers in August 2007. [Dammit: found one of his starts that took only 2:21, back in August 2001]

[Click to enlarge, at]
Master of his domain: Doug Davis, +13.7%
God-emperor of suck: Stephen Drew, -13.1%
Dishonorable mentions: Jackson, -12.4%; Clark -10.2%

Pretty frickin' miserable time, and even the most die-hard of fans - which would be most here - have to be wondering what happened to this team's offense. Because it has basically been AWOL in the opening week, undercutting some fine performances by our starting pitchers. In the six contests after Opening Day, our rotation's ERA has been 3.55, and that's without anything from Brandon Webb. I'd have taken that in a heart-beat, but the dark side of the deal is that the offense has averaged only 2.50 runs per game over the same time. While that level of production continues, it's hard to see us winning any games.

One of those Gameday threads where the word "grinding" is probably appropriate, hope being snuffed out as we gradually realized the hitters were wielding toothpicks rather than any more meaningful lumber. Still, getting over 500 comments for a game not available locally is credible, and I appreciate the effort: 'Skins led from the front with more than twice as many as anyone else, but also present were DKuon, Wimb, kishi, 4 Corners Fan, TwinnerA, snakecharmer, AF DBacks Fanatic, Muu, hotclaws, BleedingSedonaRed, cbspga, emilylovesthedbacks, jaydubsped, PinchHitLancePainter, AJforAZ, luckycc, singaporedbacksfan, unnamedDBacksfan, mrssoco, Snake Bitten, Pyromnc and soco.

We made a roster move before the game, Bobby Korecky coming down from Reno because Brandon Webb is on the disabled list. However, that mostly seemed to be in case Doug Davis had a short outing - which he very clearly did not - and we need to make another move to give the Diamondbacks room for Max Scherzer, who'll be starting tomorrow's game. Seems likely Korecky will thus be right back onto the Reno bus in the morning, though Nick Piecoro reckons that Billy Buckner may be the recipient of a trip to Nevada instead. I'm trying really hard to care, and not doing a very good job of it. Tom Gordon threw again in the bullpen tonight, and is now expected to go on a rehab stint before being activated.

Audio clippage will follow in the morning, since I just want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. Three games in a row scoring two or less isn't unprecedented - hell, we had four such streaks last year - but we have never had one so early in the season. [The earliest previously is for games #6-9 in 2002] Tomorrow will bring, as noted, the return of Scherzer, so we'll see what a fresh arm can do to rejuvenate a team that is clearly in need of something to pep them up.

[Morning update] Melvin speaks. Nothing too unexpected here, talking about how Davis deserved better and how frustrating it is that we're missing opportunities. No kidding, Bob...

Audio courtesy of KTAR 620