Pop quiz. Which of the following will be required by AJ Hinch, to get Dan Haren off the mound and turn the game over the bullpen?
* A) A crowbar
* B) A pack of enraged wolverines
* C) A battalion of marines, with cover provided by the 11th Tactical Air Support Squadron
The correct answer is, of course, D) All of the above, after last night's performance proved that no lead in single figures is safe from the predatory instincts of our relief corps. I suspect Hinch's trips to the mound tonight will likely consist of no more than him going to the top-step of the dugout and yelling, "Still good, Dan?"
However, he're a factoid for you. We've won more games where we were trailing at the start of the eighth inning (seven), than we've lost games where we were ahead there (five). Given the average to date in the majors for both categories is only 3.7, this explains why Yogi Berra's famous line, "It ain't over till it's over," will have a particular resonance with Diamondbacks fans this season. Maybe that should be this year's slogan - in ways both good and bad - rather than, as it appears, "Wait! Come back! Where are you going?" [The team is currently on pace to see almost 360K fewer through the doors this season, compared to the average drop of 138K]
Tonight, however, showcases what is perhaps the only reliable thing in the Diamondbacks 2009 season: Dan Haren. He is 16 for 17 in quality starts this season, and has 11 "super-quality" starts, going seven or more innings and allowing two or less earned runs. To put that into context, the latter figure would already be good enough for 9th in the NL all of last season - and we haven't even reached the All-Star break yet. Let's hope he does a better job of showcasing his All-Star credentials than Reynolds and Upton did [a combined 5-for-32 on the homestand to date].
- Felipe Lopez 2B
- Stephen Drew SS
- Justin Upton RF
- Mark Reynolds 3B
- Miguel Montero C
- Gerardo Parra CF
- Alex Romero LF
- Chad Tracy 1B
- Dan Haren P
Singles night at the ballpark, so expect Mark Grace to be all over that. :-) Let's hope it's more like a no-hitter night for Haren, without singles or extra-base hits. Might want to hold back some of that tequila tasting for the eighth inning, just in case. I don't know if I want to watch or not, since last night's eighth inning was such an exercise in road-crash baseball - you didn't want to keep looking, but could hardly turn away. Guess I'll be around, if only to see what happens...