Record: 46-71. Pace: 64-98.
Change on last season: -8.
Hinch/Gibson W%: .392/.395
Get those expectations lowered early, that's what I always say. It was certainly a philosophy adopted by Joe Saunders this afternoon, because the Nationals whacked him around early on, and the Diamondbacks again found themselves in an early hole. Yesterday, the offense couldn't take advantage of the chances: today, there really weren't all that many opportunities, with the visiting team having only three at-bats with runners in scoring position. This one was over in a crisp 2:25, the seventh-shortest game this year - curiously, three of those have been against the Nationals.
Details after the jump. And, to fill up some space, gratuitous violence involving balloons
Colonel Saunders was not at his sharpest, shall we say: he was more like yesterday's MacNuggets than a bucket o' crispy pitching goodness.. Of the first eleven Washington batters, seven got hits off him, and that had given the Nationals a four-run lead while four Joe recorded only four outs. With men on second and third and only one out, the home team had a chance to really bury Arizona early. Saunders struck out former D-back Adam Dunn, put Ryan Zimmerman on, and got Josh Willingham to fly out with the bases loaded, and no Washington batter got past first until the seventh inning.
However four runs in six innings isn't great, especially since Saunders allowed ten hits over that time. He was helped out by some nice bullpen work from Esmerling Vasquez, who inherited two men with no outs in the seventh, and still posted a zero, thanks largely to a double-play. Aaron Heilman retired the Nationals in order in the eighth. Seemed a bit of a strange decision to use him in a non-save situation, given it's not too long ago we couldn't use Heilman in the ninth, because he was overworked.
I think we need to check the baggage carousels at Dulles International, to see if we can find the Arizona offense. Four hits and one walk was all the hitters managed, a disappointing showing against John Lannan, a pitcher who, not so long ago, got himself sent down to Triple-A. Two of those hits came from Gerardo Parra, which is especially notable as both came off the Nationals left-handed starter. Both Arizona runs came in the fifth: Mark Reynolds walked and scored on a Stephen Drew triple; Parra then singled him home, and a Washington error on a Saunders bunt resulted in the D-backs having men on the corner with one out.
The man on first represented the tying run, with the top of the order coming up. However, Chris Young managed to take care of things himself, hitting into what seems to have been our recent nemesis, the double-play. We have a dozen of those already this month, which at time of writing trails on Washington (13) for most in August. The second in today's game erased the only base-runner we got after Young's twin-killing, with the hitters Diamondbacks hitters seeming either to give up, or give a good impression thereof, the rest of the way. Lannon and a Washington reliever faced only four batters over the minimum, which is why the pain was, at least, short-lived.
In lieu of the actual fangraph - I'm pretty sure you can guess what that looks like - here's an artistic interpretation of today's events. Happy Friday the 13th folks...
soco came back from Chicago and made up for lost time by leading all commentors today. 'Skins was also above a hundred, with Jack Cromwell in third. Others taking part: stuck in Romania (looks like the rest of the Angels crowd have now abandoned Saunders), snakecharmer, Jim McLennan, kishi, asteroid, Clefo, luckycc, Rockkstarr12, njjohn, jonny-yuma, katers, blank_38, emilylovesthedbacks, BattleMoses, rapdawg, Dallas D'Back Fan, hotclaws, and marionette. Two green comments, both by Clefo, so I'm awarding CotN to:
See you tomorrow - we're back to teetering on the edge of Tankapalooza, so the team needs to win tomorrow [we're still in fourth there, incidentally, six games back of new leaders, Pittsburgh].