Cy Young Award winner, Franchise Icon, and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson will get the start in this game. Winning the first of four consecutive CY Awards, the big lefty lead the league in Games Started (35), Innings pitched (271), ERA (2.48) and of course strikeouts (364!)
RJ was backed by the NL’s highest scoring lineup. Four players scored 100 runs, and one other just missed with 98
- Jay Bell 132
- Luis Gonzalez 112
- Tony Womack 111
- Steve Finely 100
- Matt Williams 98
A mid-season trade brought in closer Matt Mantei who had a dominant half season run, electrifying fans when he came into games. Lefty Greg Swindell posted a 2.51 ERA and 183 ERA+. Indeed the entire bullpen was solid, as no reliever with more than 30 innings pitched had an ERA+ less than 113.
Manager Buck Showalter tabbed the red hot Erubiel Durazo to get the start over slumping Travis Lee in this game. Otherwise he went with his regular everyday lineup.
The 2006 Diamondbacks will start Miguel Batista in the 2nd game of their tournament. (Brandon Webb started the last game and is not available for this one) One could have gone with Juan Cruz or Livan Hernandez perhaps, both of whom had higher ERA+ and lower FIP. But the margins there were not so great, and Batista made 34 starts and threw over 200 IP and was the clear cut #2 starter on that team.
This was a scrappy, albeit inconsistent team. They were very hot in May, and in first place on June 5th. But they slumped badly in June, perhaps in large part due to the Jason Grimsley scandal. Then they rebounded by getting hot again in July. As late as August 9th they were 58-56, and only 0.5 games back of eventual division winner San Diego Padres. They slumped from there though, going 18-30 the rest of the way to finish 76-86, tied for last place in the NL West, 12 games back.
In an effort to generate some offense against the Big Unit, Manager Bob Melvin has turned to a mostly right-handed lineup. Damion Easely has gotten the start over Chad Tracy at 3b, and rookie Carlos Quentin gets the nod over Shawn Green in RF.
One hopes virtual Bob Melvin will turn to Jorge Julio as the closer over Valverde should the 2006 team have a save chance. This despite Valverde having more saves, as Julio actually pitched much better. Right-Handed Middle relief is not actually terrible for this team, at least in terms of ERA/Run Prevention. Brandon Lyon, Luis Viscaino, and Brandon Medders all outperformed their FIP to post good ERA+. But being somewhat weak at closer, and with virtually no left-handed options to speak of the 2006 bullpen was still a year away from “breaking out”.
Heavy underdogs in this game, the 2006 squad will need some luck to upset the 1999 juggernaut.
#16 2006 Arizona Diamondbacks 1, #1 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks 3
The end result was as expected, with the top-seeded 1999 D-backs moving on to the Elite Eight behind Randy Johnson. But it was probably closer than expected. with Miguel Batista helping to keep his team in the game. The end result was never certain until Johnson finished his complete game. He held the 2006 team to four hits and three walks, striking out eight in an 111-pitch performance.
One of those hits was the first batter of the game, Eric Byrnes, who smoked a line-drive single to right. 2006 manager Bob Melvin knew runs were likely going to hard to come by, and had Craig Counsell bunt Byrnes to second. But Orlando Hudson grounded out to short, and Byrnes had to stay put. In an interesting decision, Johnson walked Conor Jackson intentionally [RJ had three IBBs in 271.2 IP that year!], but it paid off, as Luis Gonzalez flew out to the warning track.
1999 wasted an even better chance in their half. Singles by Tony Womack and Gonzalez put runners on the corners with one out. But Batista got Matt Williams to chase a pitch out of the zone, and Erubiel Durazo then took strike three. They did take the lead in the second. Steve Finley doubled, then took a risk, tagging up on a fly-ball by Damian Miller to left-center. One out later, a wild-pitch from Batista gave 1999 a 1-0 lead, though they ended up leaving two men on base that inning.
They extended the lead to 3-0 in the third. With two outs and Gonzalez on second, Melvin walked Finley to pitch to Miller, and got burned. The catcher hit a laser-beam to the wall in center, bringing both base-runners home. That would be all the offense 1999 would get, with only one man in scoring position the rest of the way. Finley hit a lead-off triple in the sixth, before Batista wiggled off the hook with two groundouts and a pop-up. But it was all the offense they would need.
2006 did get on the board in the fourth, but it felt more like a chance squandered. Hudson doubled to left, and Jackson singled, giving them men on the corners with nobody out. While Gonzalez represented the tying run, Johnson got just what he needed, Gonzo grounding into a 6-4-3 double-play. A run scored, but the bases were emptied; Damian Easley struck out swinging, and 1999 still held a 3-1 advantage.
After Carlos Quentin led off the fifth with a triple, the Big Unit buckled down, getting Chris Snyder and Batista to strike out swinging, leaving Quentin stranded. That was the final hit they would manage, as Johson retired fourteen of the last sixteen batters faced, allowing walks to Jackson and Easley. Batista was lifted after seven innings, being charged with three runs, scattering eight hits and three walks with five K’s; Luis Vizcaino worked a scoreless eighth, but 2006 were eliminated when Gonzalez popped out to Bell for the final out.
Finley led offense for the winning side, with a double, triple and a walk; Gonzalez also had a pair of hits. For 2006, Jackson reached base safely three times, on a hit and two walks.
1999 will now go on to face the winners of the next match-up, between 2000 and 2003 versions of the D-backs. That’ll take place on the next off-day in the simulated season, which looks to be Monday, April 13.
2003 @ 2000: Who will win?
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