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Braves 9, Diamondbacks 3: Bad Max

Record: 22-29. Pace: 70-92. Change on last season: -8. Change on 2004: +4

Umm.... yeah. Remember all those games where Max Scherzer pitched, like, 6 innings, only gave up 2 runs, and yet still lost? Yeah. This wasn't one of those games. Remember all those games where the Dbacks faced a rookie starter with a massive ERA (in this case, over 9) and were completely shut down? Yeah. This WAS one of THOSE games.

Scherzer gave up a career-worst 8 runs in only 3.2 innings and the Braves jumped out on top 2-0 in the first 7 pitches of the game, without an out. It wasn't quite all the runs Braves starter Kris Medlen would end up needing to win the game, but it was close. In many ways, it was just one of those days, where everything the Braves swung at seemed to plop fair somewhere. While only having a slightly-high .395 BABIP for the game, the Braves batted an unsustainable .476 on balls in play versus our heterochromic starter. On the other hand, rookie Kris Medlen came in with a season ERA of 9.72 and just 6 Ks after his first two games; he left with a 6.28 and fully 9 Ks against the Dbacks alone. Most of the damage was done by the Braves' 1-2-3 hitters; Kelly "Hey, it's a guy's name too" Johnson, Yunel "Not Pablo" Escobar and Chipper "I'm too good for my real name, which is Larry" Jones combined to go 9-15 with 6 RBIs, 7 runs scored, and 5(!!) extra base hits.

It wasn't a terrible first inning for the Dbacks. After giving up back-to-back doubles to start the game and a fluky RBI single by Jones, Scherzer was able to get the next batter, Garret Anderson, to bounce into a double play, and then got Casey Kotchman to fly out. In the bottom of the first, Felipe Lopez, starting for just the second time since May 23rd, drew a walk to lead off the game. Unfortunately, Augie Ojeda waved at ball 4 out of the zone and Lopez was easily thrown out at second for a tailor-made double play, and it didn't get much better for awhile, as Medlen allowed only Mark Reynolds' 2nd inning leadoff single until the 6th. By that time, it was already 9-0 and the game was out of hand. Still, there was a shutout to break up.

Chris Snyder led off the inning with a double, Ryan Roberts came in and flew out for Esmerelda Vasquez, Lopez struck out, but a single by Augie and an RBI double by Parra made it 9-1. Parra is now hitting over .700 with runners in scoring position. Talk about clutch!! Reynolds struck out to end it, but that was the last of Medlen. From here, the game got somewhat interesting -- well, as "interesting" as an 8 run game can be, I guess.

Clay "Zorro" Zavada came on for Vasquez, and pitched around a pinch-hit double by Greg Norton for a scoreless inning. Jeff Bennet came in to pitch, and the Dbacks immediately began to feast -- well, by the standards of this game, anyway. Drew led off with a single, Byrnes followed with a "productive groundout" that he almost beat for a single, but.... Chris Young was at the plate. Strikeout or popup, right? NOPE! CY singled to make it 9-2. Snydes and Roberts were outs, but hey, it was another run. Snyder came up a little gimpy after grounding into a fielder's choice, and was pulled for Miggy. Hopefully, it was just precautionary.

Our 2008 first round pick came in to pitch the 8th, and he pitched around a McCann walk and Prado single to keep it a 7 run game. In the bottom, the Dbacks did their best to get Schlereth the win, when Miggy singled, Augie popped out, and then Parra and Reynolds hit back to back one-baggers to drive in another run. Unfortunately, 9-3 was as close as they'd ever come.

Rauch pitched a 1-2-3 9th, and Roberts, who had stayed in the game to replace Lopez at 2nd, got a soft line drive to center to extend his hitting streak to 6 games. That was it for the Dbacks, though, ending any chance to win the 4 game series. I suppose a series split isn't too bad, given the way we've played at home this season.

Scherzer was ineffectively wild, and wasn't helped out by Angel Campos' strike zone, which was fairly consistently the size of a postage stamp. After giving up only 2 walks his last 2 outings, Max walked 3, and hit Casey Kotchman with a 75 mph breaking ball. Max must throw the hardest 75 mph anyone's ever seen, because Kotchman left the game with a shin contusion. Scherzer also gave up a 2 run blast to Chipper in the 3rd, and Garret Anderson's first ever NL homer, with 2 on, in the 4th. Vasquez came on to relieve Max with 2 outs in the 4th, immediately letting an inherited runner score, but went on to pitch two more innings while giving up a single run -- while Max's ERA ballooned to 4.47 from 3.38, Vasquez lowered his to 6.11. Neither Zavada nor Schlereth have given up runs yet, and Rauch's scoreless frame dropped his ERA below 6, to 5.96. Look for him to be closing this week. /sarcasm

Not much to speak of on the hitting side, although the Dbacks somehow pulled out 10 hits. Reynolds had 2, including the only Dbacks hit before the 6th, and was rewarded by the FanGraph, having the only hit while the score was still anything like close. Parra, batting in the 3rd spot for the first time in his major league career, also had 2 hits, but methinks the team still missed the name and fear that comes from having Justin Upton in the lineup. Upton was given the day off, after going ohfer the previous two games. On the other hand, while Flip Lopez did draw a leadoff walk, he looked slow both on the base paths and while playing the field, lacking his usual rather-unimpressive range. One wonders whether his hammies are fully healed. The team as a whole went 4-9 with RISP, and it would be nice to see that continue, along with more solid bullpen work.


Click to enlarge,
Badass of the day: Mark Reynolds, +4.2%

Boarding the bus to Reno: Max Scherzer, -33.3%

Slow-ish gameday thread, with a hair under 400 comments in total. Present were Jim McLennan, Pyromnc, sayheyupton, snakecharmer, hotclaws, DbacksSkins, Smoggie, emilylovesthedbacks, DisplacedAZfan, westofrome, SeanMillerSavior, IHateSouthBend, Scrbl, TwinnerA, katers, 4 Corners Fan, pierzynskirules, soco, notSince86 (WELCOME!!), kishi, Azreous, and unnamedDBacksfan. Some guy with two sports teams in his username led the commenting and was the only one in triple digits, while snakecharmer was second with 63. It's generally not a very good sign when the most interesting part of the broadcast was an in-booth interview -- in this case, Mark "Stinky" Schlereth, Daniel's father. It WAS cool to see him wearing a Dbacks hat, though.

Our men in red now embark upon a road trip to the Dodgers and Padres. Let's hope our recent road success continues.