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Slinging in the Rain: Another washout for the Diamondbacks

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"The strikeouts?" Upton, the Diamondbacks right fielder, asked incredulously. "What strikeouts?"  -- Link

Arizona suffered its second rain-out in consecutive days tonight, as the bad weather apparently followed them from Atlanta to Miami. Unfortunately, today's game actually got started - a decision that seemed very questionable, almost from the first pitch - which means that we burned a Dan Haren start to absolutely no point at all. The rain eased off fractionally in the second inning, but it came back even harder in the third, and with Dan Haren up to bat for us in the top of the fourth, with two men on and one out, the umpires had seen enough.

The teams left the field, the tarps came on, and it looked like Daron Sutton and Mark Grace were the only people left in Margaritaville Stadium, as they gave us updates on the situation. Which might just as well have consisted of the three words, "Still raining. Lots." The radar showed a relentless volume of rain in the area, with the Doppler radar at one point showing no less than 32 storm cells, including one with a tornado vortex signature - I'm not sure precisely what that is, but it certainly doesn't sound good, and it was absolutely no surprise that the game was canceled.

As we hadn't reached the middle of the fifth, none of it happened as far as the official records go. Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds will each be quite happy with that, having combined to go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts [Reynolds really needs to learn to lay off those sliders down and away. Everyone in the stadium knew that was coming, and he still went down swinging], but Felipe Lopez went 2-for-2, a multihit game that will now be struck from the books. Arizona were trailing 1-0 at the time the game was called: we'd stranded two men each of the first three innings, and had another couple aboard when things ended.

But it was not a good day for sound fundamental baseball. Gerardo Parra misplayed a ball in left-field, that ended up as a triple - coming up in the minors, he rarely played left. Mark Reynolds committed a throwing error, Chad Tracy was only saved from one by a fortuitous ricochet to Felipe Lopez, and Lopez was picked off first after a leadoff single to start the game. The pitcher's mound was equally precarious, Haren saying,  "The footing on the mound, I couldn't really get behind the ball because I kind of had to stay flat on my feet just because if I got going too much, I'd slip out there."

I do have to wonder whether starting Haren was a wise move, but it seems the rain caught people by surprise. Nick Piecoro said in late afternoon, "the forecasts keep looking better every time we check. As of 5:15 p.m. (Florida time), it doesn’t look like the thunderstorms are supposed to start until 11 p.m. or so." I guess the thunderstorms didn't get that memo, but I still have to question the decision even to start the game. The conditions were wretched from the get-go, and the chances of reaching even the fifth inning didn't look good. With not much better forecast for tomorrow, I can kinda understand the decision, but it turned the entire game into a lottery - not what you want to see with your best pitcher out there.

Speaking of which, the burning of Dan Haren lobs a spanner into the works of the rotation for a bit, with the game now rescheduled as part of a double-header on Wednesday, starting at 11 am Arizona time. I think it's the first such for the D-backs since September 2, 2006, when they played two against the Nationals - they had three twin-bills that season, the others being against the Cubs and Braves. I guess I'll have to discuss with Azreous what to do about the recaps that day, but imagine he'll take one and I'll take the other - he can choose which he wants to do.

Anyway, Jon Garland will go tomorrow, and Bryan Augenstein and Doug Davis will pitch in the double-header, though it has not yet been decided who will pitch which game. Thursday will be Max Scherzer, and Haren might be able to go on Friday on short rest, having thrown only 56 pitches today: however, that would only postpone the problem to Saturday, with no-one currently on the roster available to pitch. Hang on, isn't that about the time the Petit Unit is eligible to come off the "disabled list"? If not him, then it may be Billy Buckner or someone similar from Reno. Ugh.

Forecast is not much better for tomorrow night. "Mostly cloudy with chance of showers and slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 70s over the inland areas to the mid 70s near the coast. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent." That's actually a bit better than earlier in the day, but one wonders what the drainage in the outfield is like, because it was basically underwater there when they last showed it on the broadcast. If it keeps raining for most of tomorrow afternoon, will it be playable in the evening, even if the precipitation has actually stopped? Or, put another way, whose dumb idea was it to award a franchise to Florida without insisting on a retractable roof?

Still, it did allow us to make a timely stab at watching the finale of 24, though it was singularly unsatisfying. Previously, while there have often been cliff-hangers, they have at least tidied up the threads of the series; not so this time, with both the main angles left dangling unresolved. All told, a pretty unsatisfying day: here's to better things tomorrow.