If I had realized on Friday, when the monthly email from the Jim comes to confirm my recap duties, that Yusmeiro Petit would be starting today I probably would have tried to find a way to squirm out of it. No offense to Mr. Petit, but not since Russ Ortiz donned the turquoise, copper, black and purple have I been less excited by a Diamondback starter taking the mound. No wait, that's a lie - I do hope he takes offense. At least it means he's reading - or more likely, Miguel Montero is reading and translating it to him. If that is the case than I would like to interrupt this recap for a moment to officially put my thing down, flip it and el chacarron it. I heart you, Miggy... even with the Johnny Unitas hair cut.
But back to baseball, I can't quite describe the gut punch in store for me when I came home, fired up the DVR and instead of getting to see an always intriguing Max Scherzer start I was graced with Yusmeiro's presence. And then imagine my shock as Petit went on to pitch his best game of the season, by a significant margin no less.
Six strikeouts tied for his most of any start this season along with the three hits he allowed. It was only his second outing this season in which he did not allow a home run (for reference, in four of his nine starts he's given up multiple home runs). It was also the first time season this season that he allowed fewer than three earned runs. And perhaps most significantly, this is the first time in the 2009 season that he's gone six innings in a start.
Of course, just because he put together his best outing of the season doesn't mean it was any fun to watch. The results may have been positive, but it doesn't mean the process wasn't excruciating. Admittedly, most of that is previous biases combined with an impotent offense, but it still doesn't excuse a soft-tossing righty walking multiple people not named "Pujols" in a single inning. He got away with it in the first inning, but not in the fourth when Tony LaRussa's plan to bat the pitcher eighth came to fruition as the buzzsaw known as 'Joel Piniero' came up with the bases loaded. A first pitch get-me-over slider later and the boys in sedona red were staring down the nigh insurmountable lead of two to nil.
I could tell you that the team got jobbed. That it was bad luck that saw the pitcher get the game winning hit. Similarly, it was bad luck that the team came out of the fifth with only one run - the confluence of what should have been Chris Young double hitting short wall and turning into a single, a Chad Tracy double bouncing into the stands instead of rattling around the corner and a Felipe Lopez grounder that he might have beat out. But who are we kidding? Once again the offense was putrid and there's no way to sugar coat.
Joel Piniero was a groundball machine en route to limiting the Snakes to only one walk and six hits, only two of which went for extra bases. While Petit, Gutierrez and Rauch combined for a well-pitched game, the offense continued its maddening inability to string hits together. And unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, that's a habit that is only going to get worse now that Felipe Lopez has moved on to greener pastures. He ends his Arizona tenure with a .301 average, 6 home runs, 44 runs and 25 RBI. He was a mercenary in every sense of the word and while his perceived indifference may have been frustrating at times he's still been worth every cent of his contract and then some. I agree with the deal in principle, and don't even mind the return, but I'm about as eager to see Ryan Roberts as our starting second baseman as I am to see Yusmeiro Petit with a permanent starting job. Things are most definitely going to get worse before they get better.
At least Dan Haren is doing his best Randy Johnson circa 2004 imitation. Not that it's much consolation...