Games until the blessed, merciful end of the season: 12.
The series against the Rockies didn't quite go as we'd hoped - "we" being both Arizona and San Francisco, who now find themselves 4.5 games back of Colorado, with 13 games left to play. That gives them only about a 5% chance of making the post-season, and they really need to start putting together much more consistent performance if they are to have any chance. The shift in the Diamondbacks' rotation does mean they get to dodge Dan Haren - instead, it's Billy Buckner in the opener, with Doug Davis and Kevin Mulvey going for us the rest of the series.
Buckner continues his audition for a role in the rotation next season, with his recently-developed cut fastball apparently instrumental in a performance improvement. In three starts since returning, he has pitched 19 innings and allowed only six earned runs, a very respectable 2.84 ERA. Could do with him allowing fewer hits, since opponents are batting .310 off him in that time, but a .389 BABIP is certainly a factor in that, and one would expect that to drop back towards the mean in the long run. One thing he has done is improve his control, with a walk-rate of 2.39/nine IP, compared to 3.32 the rest of this year.
Zito likely deserves a better record than 10-12, since he has an ERA of just 1.70 in eight no-decisions, holding opposing hitters to a .199 average there. Those are actually better numbers than when he wins (2.19 and .215 respectively). Fourteen of his 20 losses and no-decisions, he has been given three or less runs of support. However, he can be wild: four times this year, he has walked five or more batters, a number surpassed in the NL only by the Mets' Oliver Perez. On the other hand, his ERA since the All-Star break is 2.36, so I'm not expecting tacos tonight. He faced us once this year, in June, and got the win despite allowing four runs in five frames.
- Chris Young CF
- Stephen Drew SS
- Justin Upton RF
- Mark Reynolds 3B
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Eric Byrnes LF
- Brandon Allen 1B
- John Hester C
- Billy Buckner RHP
That line-up doesn't exactly seem to improve the taco odds. Makes sense that Parra is sitting, but parking Montero on the bench against a left-hander is less obvious. Looking forward to seeing Hester, however. Yep: seeing. We're going to the ballpark tonight, our penultimate trip of the season, so expect the recap to be up a little later than usual, by the time I get home and write it all up. Since I've got to work tomorrow, definitely hoping it's not an extra-innings contest. A 1-0 win for Arizona, in a little under two hours, please. Both teams' co-operation in this will be appreciated.