Record: 52-63. Pace: 74-88. Change on last season: -7.
In last week's recap, the Diamondbacks overcame some horrendous performances with RISP to somehow squeak out a win against the hapless Pirates. Most of those failures came in the first seven innings of the game before they finally came through in a clutch situation in the eighth. The situation was eerily familiar in this afternoon's contest against the Mets, only the first chink in the ineptitude armor came with two outs in the seventh -- although they had wasted twice as many opportunities to that point. This might be the worst game of the season in terms of consistent failure; the Florida game at least had the decency to cram it all into a couple of awful innings.
Today's matchup featured Jon Garland against Oliver Perez. Garland struggles at home; Perez struggles in general. Keep in mind, the team wasted its first 12 opportunities with runners in scoring position. It gave away three runs on what should have been just one hit in the sixth. There were four wild pitches in a three-inning span. Perez somehow walked a tight rope with high heels and a suit of armor on. This was a game the Diamondbacks had no business winning, yet it was a tie game with just two frames to go. Words somehow cannot adequately convey the frustration.
A breakdown of the breakdowns and Mark Grace's guttural noises after the jump...
On the plus side, a similar crappy performance to last week means I get to be lazy and use the same breakdown by inning, except this time we're going to rank them on an arbitrary scale. Market research shows that readers prefer a shiny star system or something instead of plain old text reviews, and who am I to argue with a nebulous thing like market research?
Augie Ojeda smacks a triple in the left-field gap with one out. Ryan Roberts, hitting third in this B lineup, fails to put the ball and play and strikes out. Mark Reynolds coaxes a walk, but Gerardo Parra stares at strike three and the inning is over. Runner on third with one out? Pretty bad, but we can do better. C-
Chris Snyder draws a leadoff walk, and moves to third on Rusty Ryal's double into left. Most runners would have probably scored on that play, but we can't fault Snydes for speed he doesn't have (although we can fault him for other things later). With second and third and nobody out, Josh Whitesell grounds out feebly to third, holding the runners there. Garland stares at strike three, and Trent Oeltjen ends the inning with a groundout. Second and third, nobody out? That's more like it. F-
Ojeda starts things off with a walk. Roberts continues the deja vu effect with a double, and Ojeda is able to score easily because A) he is not Snyder and B) he's on first, and not second. Trust me, it makes more sense if you don't think about it. Roberts, in a desperate attempt to get as close as he could to home, moved to third on a wild pitch with still no one out. But Reynolds struck out, Parra hit a little grounder that got Roberts out at home when he ran on contact. With Parra on first, Snyder walked, but that put a runner at second again, so Ryal flew out to end the inning. Third, no out, plus a runner thrown out at home, and getting more RISP just to fail again? Yikes. 1 1/2 stars
Garland decides he's had enough of this terrible run support crap and hits a little bloop single to right with one out. Ojeda draws another walk, but there's already two outs at that point and Roberts kills the threat by staring at strike three. This is nothing compared to the others. I mean, garden variety failure gets you nowhere. G+
Parra gets a base hit up the middle with one out. Ryal tries to drive him in from there with a double down the left-field line, but it's not deep enough to score Parra (apparently Chip Hale hasn't realized the problem yet and holds him there). Whitesell gets the four-finger treatment, which isn't as cool as it sounds, and Garland stares at strike three. Sure, Garland's a pitcher, but take a look at all those Ks looking with RISP up to this point. Kinda infuriating, right? 31/100
I'm starting to think that runners should have stopped at first on balls hit in the gap, even the ones they might have been able to stretch into triples. Or ones that went over the fence. Our old friend Santiago, the Can't-Deliver-With-RISP Gato had his own take on the situation:
Meanwhile, the Mets took the lead in the sixth thanks to ineptitude on the defensive end, which I think gets more infuriating in retrospect. Garland started the inning off by striking out David Wright, but the ball got away from Snyder and Wright sprinted over to first. Gary Sheffield hit a ball up the middle that Ojeda probably should have gotten (and likely turned into a double play), but instead it put runners on first and second with nobody out. Both men advanced when Garland bounced a changeup that Snyder should have corralled. Garland got ahead 0-2 on allergic-to-walks Jeff Franceour, only to let him off the hook and walk the bases loaded. A third wild pitch advanced all three runners and scored the tying run, and Fernando Tatis added insult to injury by getting an RBI single to right. Oeltjen threw it in and Whitesell cut it off at first, but failed to look Franceour back to third, so Jeff waltzed in to score while they gunned down Tatis at second. Garland got a weak groundout and a K after that, but the damage was more than done.
Deep breaths, people. Deep breaths.
Perez trudged back out to the mound in the sixth, already at 110 pitches and 113 baserunners. He seemed surprised that there weren't already at least two runners on base. Everyone else was also surprised. He took care of Oeltjen, and Sean Green struck out Ojeda and Roberts to put down the side in order, which was almost like a relief at that point.
The team decided that simply succumbing to defeat was much too humane for us, the fans, so they made the game interesting again in the seventh. First, Clay Zavada and Blaine Boyer combined to somehow work around a walk, base hit and HBP and not allow any runs. In the bottom half, the inning started with a familiar formula: Reynolds was plunked on an inside fastball, and Parra hit a double into the left-field gap to put runners on second and third. Again, why Hale didn't just say the hell with it and send Reynolds, I'll never understand. Keeping with their earlier form, Snyder struck out swinging (or as I see it, flailing), and Stephen Drew, pinch-hitting for Ryal, quickly fell into an 0-2 count before hitting some kind of half-swing/half-bunt that got Reynolds gunned down at home. That left runners at first and second and two out - but what's this? Whitesell delivered with a base hit to right that scored Parra, and Miguel Montero followed with a hit of his own to score Drew. Sure, Oeltjen flew out to end the inning, but after going 0-for-12 with RISP, 2-for-15 looked a lot better.
That hope was not to last, however, as the treacherous eighth inning was up next. Jon Rauch came out for his usual spot, and a strange combination of bad calls and untimely hitting (for us) got Rauch charged with two runs. There was a strike three that wasn't. There was a caught stealing on Castillo (replay showed he was clearly out) that would have been the third out, but wasn't. Ultimately, after he finally got out of the inning, Rauch went to exchange a few pleasantries with the home-plate umpire and got himself ejected for his troubles - and AJ Hinch was out the door right behind him. It'd be nice to say that the umpiring played a role in losing this game, but we've got about 1,000 words of evidence above this to the contrary, and this wasn't anywhere near as bad as the Jerry Crawford Experience from last week.
Did the twin ejections inspire the team and lead them to victory? Nope. The Diamondbacks went K-BB-GIDP in the eighth, further tilting the run disparity in that inning against us. Meanwhile, Arizona gifted another run to the Mets in the ninth with newly-recalled Daniel Schlereth on the mound. Wright reached on an infield hit, and moved to second when Drew threw the ball away. He was bunted over to third, and Franceour got a free pass to get to Fernando Tatis (a strange play for a couple reasons: Franceour never draws walks, yet it was his second of the game, and Tatis was 3-3 with a walk at that point). Schlereth got Tatis to whiff on strike three, yet the ball bounced away from Montero and Wright scored. I doubt it made Snyder feel any better, but still.
The D-backs made the margin a little more respectable in the ninth on K-Rod (which is one of the worst nicknames in sports, by the way), getting a run on a Parra base hit, defensive indifference, and a Whitesell single, but that was it. A little bit anticlimactic after the earlier innings, but then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
[Update] Post-game comments from Garland on his outing, and Rauch on the joys of getting the heave-ho from the men in blue.
Audio courtesy of KTAR 620
Master of his Domain: Miguel Montero, +15.9%
Honorable Mention: Gerardo Parra, +14.4%; Josh Whitesell, +11.1%
God-Emperor of Suck: Jon Rauch, -32.9%
Dishonorable Mention: Trent Oeltjen, -22.2%; Stephen Drew, -18.5%; Jon Garland (hitting), -12.4%; Jon Garland (pitching), -10.1%
Garland and Oeltjen plummet on the Fangraph because they contributed five of those on their own, apiece. Despite TA's 0-fer, he's still hitting over .400. Drew came into the game late, and still had time to screw up a key RISP spot and pick up an error. And Rauch was already well-documented.
For the Diamondbacks, Ojeda had a walk and two hits. Parra put together a three-hit day, and Ryal and Whitesell had a pair of knocks apiece -- Josh also added a walk. Roberts got an RBI hit and a walk, and Snyder's two walks were about the only good part of his day. Zavada and Boyer both contributed to an unblemished frame, although not for lack of trying, and Schlereth's run in the ninth was unearned. For the Mets, Wright had three hits (and reached on the K in what became the tying run), Tatis added three more hits and a walk, Sullivan added a pair of hits and a walk, and Sheffield had a couple knocks.
Let's just take a minute to review here. The Diamondbacks had 19 baserunners and scored four runs. Adding up the individual totals, they left twenty-nine men on base (because the 14 team LOB simply doesn't do it justice). This game was so frustrating that Mark Grace let out some kind of primal yell on the broadcast in the latter innings, a noise I can't even begin to put into letters. Then again, it probably sums things up better than I did in a 3,000-word thesis, so kudos for that.
But at least Perez didn't get the damn win.
Insanely busy GameDay Thread, considering the afternoon weekday start and multiple reasons to watch something else. We easily cruised by 1,000 comments. DBacksSkins led the way, and ZonaBacks10 and UAwildcats each added triple-digit counts of their own. Four others weighed in at least 50 times, myself included. Go me. The total list: ZonaBacks10, Zephon, DbacksSkins, Turambar, Clefo, pygalgia, emilylovesthedbacks, mrssoco, snakecharmer, kishi, Jim McLennan, Sprankton, PhoenixFly, hotclaws, UAwildcats, luckycc, IHateSouthBend, njjohn, older fart, BattleMoses, Azreous, SeanMillerSavior, katers and Wailord.
Despite all that today, the Diamondbacks still won the series and handled the Mets pretty well this season. Next up for the team is
more crappy disappointments a three-game set at home against those dreaded Dodgers, with Dan Haren on the mound tomorrow against Clayton Kershaw. Even though we're mostly out of the playoff picture at this point, beating the Dodgers is always fun and highly recommended.