Record: 6-11. Pace: 57-105. Change on last season: -7.
After I got out of work tonight, we went for dinner in Chili's - I was keeping an eye on the game on the TV set behind the bar from across the room. However, even from that range, one thing seemed painfully obvious in the Giants' fifth inning. Max Scherzer was gassed and should have been removed - probably before allowing a two-run double, certainly before the two-run homer which followed immediately, turning a 2-0 lead into a 4-2 deficit from which the team never recovered. I can understand Bob Melvin wanting to keep Max in there and get him through the fifth inning, giving him a chance at his first ever win. But one presumes what was clear from fifty feet through a crowded restaurant, should have been even more apparent in person, and the results instead got Scherzer another L. I think this is probably the first time in 2009 we can tag Melvin directly with blame for a defeat.
So what happened? It's just another one of those baffling managerial decisions, which I'd love him to explain. Maybe they'd then make sense, but without any kind of information, we're left simply to rage against the RoBoMel. Similarly, why did we once again use our lesser LOOGY, Doug Slaten, in the sixth inning, when the Giants were still only one up. Why not use the superior pitcher, Scott Schoeneweis, if you wanted to keep the score that way? We ended up using him in the eighth, and he did post a zero, which more than Slaten managed. There's clearly something I am fundamentally misunderstanding about our relief corps, and it's use - I'd love to know what it is.
However, it'd be unfair to criticize just Melvin or the bullpen for this: there's plenty of blame to go around. We should have, frankly, crucified the Big Unit, who allowed seven walks in 3.1 frames. Randy Johnson was the first National League pitcher since Terrell Wade in 1996 to walk so many people in less than four innings, and allow so few earned runs. While he was stopped from picking up another victory in his crawl towards 300, he only gave up Justin Upton's first homer of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Diamondbacks the lead, albeit briefly, in the bottom of the fourth. First-base umpire Tom Hallion also deserves a place in hell (a.k.a. Phoenix in July), calling Mark Reynolds out after he clearly beat the throw, a decision that certainly cost Arizona a run in the fourth.
Eleven men left on base, so it's not as if we didn't have chances - mostly thanks to the plethora of walks from Johnson [I trust you understand that. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.] Byrnes had a solo homer and a double for the Diamondbacks, showing some signs of life [his average is back up to .214 - better than most of the position players in the line-up for us today], while Felipe Lopez and Augie Ojeda each has a hit and a walk. Chris Young and Tony Clark picked up a pair of free passes each, but the latter went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and got booed by the crowd at Chase after his final strikeout. And why not? He's 0-for-17 with nine K's since the last time he got a hit and is batting .136 on the season. Chris Snyder was also hitless, and is back down below .100.
Max Scherzer, up until the fifth inning, was actually pitching pretty well, posting zeros and allowing only two hits and one walk through the front four. He had some trouble in the opening frame, putting men on the corners with one out, but got Molina to pop up on the first pitch and then struck out Rowand on three really nasty deliveries. I am beginning to think that Scherzer's future probably does lie in the bullpen rather than as a starter: he seems to mow down the lineup the first time around [Coming into today, opponents hit .216 against him there], but then struggles thereafter [.276 the second time around, with an OPS 153 points higher]. Raw 'stuff' will only take you so far. Good to see a scoreless inning from Rauch - the first time he's done that in consecutive starts since September 6. Baby steps...
[Morning update] Audio from the post-game interviews, with Bob Melvin talking about the two starters' outings and our inability to hold the lead, while Scherzer discusses fatigue, the crucial Renteria at-bat and his performance.
Audio courtesy of KTAR 620
Well, folks: the threats of animal cruelty didn't help today. Unfortunately, this means I have to follow through with the threat, simply because there's no point in backing off it now - my credibility is on the line. I know it's a terrible thing, but I am a man of my word, and that's more important to me than the life of a poor, dumb animal. I have to tell you, it took me ages to clean up the kitchen by the time I'd finished. The damn thing just wouldn't stop thrashing around, and I eventually had to reach for a convenient implement, just to put it out of its misery. I must admit, those CutCo knives do the trick, though doubt using them to dispatch dogs is going to make it into their product demo any time soon. I trust this is adequate warning: those of a sensitive nature probably don't want to click this link. I hope the Diamondbacks are satisfied, that's all I can say...
Yeah, that plummet in the middle of the graph above tells a story, in a way of which any Pre-Raphaelite artist would be proud. That marked the spot at which interest in the game fell of a similar precipice, and I can't say I blame anyone. luckycc took the prize for most enthusiastic commentor tonight, and also present in the thread were: unnamedDBacksfan, kishi, Muu, sergey606, singaporedbacksfan, Diamondhacks, snakecharmer, Scrbl, hotclaws, AJforAZ, IHateSouthBend, DbacksSkins, IndyDBack, peeklay, Wimb, Snake Bitten and Tooch27, so thanks to them for their efforts. Tomorrow, the team goes to try and avoid the sweep, having dropped the first two games in a series for the first time this year.
And what day would be complete with more bad news for the D-backs? Stephen Drew is going on the disabled list with a hamstring issue, it was announced after the game. An MRI revealed a strain, and Melvin said, "We figured if it's six or seven days before he'd be able to play again, rather than go short for that long, go ahead and put him on the DL and get him healthy." No word as yet who will be called up to replace him: one imagines Ojeda will continue to get most of the starts in the meantime, with Roberts now becoming the main backup. Rusty Ryal might be the name if they want another middle-infielder, but maybe the Diamondbacks will call up someone like Josh Whitesell (.340/.484/.580 for the Aces), just to give the offense some oomph.