Sunday, August 31, 2008

Webb drilled in series loss to Dodgers

Well, Brandon Webb appears to have hit another lull in his otherwise spectacular season. He has now had consecutive outings where he has been hit hard and often. Only going 3 1/3 tonight against the Dodgers, he gave up all eight runs, as Arizona went down in the series finale, 8-1. Number 20 is on hold for at least another five days.

The D-backs are going to need Webb to be big-time down the stretch here in his last six or so starts, or there will not be a postseason in their future. He threw 89 pitches in that brief outing...wow...and gave up five walks, with two of them being the intentional variety to Manny Ramirez. I guess Bo Mel finally had enough of Man Ram after the first two games....hmm...sure wish he would have had enough of Jody Gerut and Ty Wigginton from the past two weeks.

Really nice to see big crowds at Chase over the weekend, albeit with half of them in blue...Got the Cards in for three starting tomorrow. With a 2 1/2 game lead now, and with the Dodgers now winning a couple in a row, it's time for serious business.

As for the David Eckstein trade, it's actually quite a puzzling move from my standpoint. While it does provide a guy with plenty of postseason experience, including that MVP in the '06 World Series, does he really provide anything more than Augie Ojeda does? He hit .277 in only 76 games this year with the Blue Jays. He wouldn't appear to be a long-term acquisition, so he clearly is being brought in for his experience in pressure situations and to help solidify the second base spot down the stretch. Doesn't Ojeda provide that same small guy, gritty, get-after-it type of play for them?? I guess the only real difference between Ojeda and Eckstein is the postseason - which can't be totally discounted. Just hope it proves to be a galvanizing move both on the field and off the field, as the D-backs obviously need a fire lit under them with their putrid play of late.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New low on season for D-backs

After yesterday's game and sweep by the Padres, what much else can be said here about the state of the D-backs. Fortunately the Dodgers are even worse off, if that's possible. When it looked like these two teams were going to play exceptional ball down the stretch, they're now both trying to back into the division crown. The good thing is that it really can't get any worse than this series against San Diego. It all has to go up from here.

Should be an interesting series this weekend against LA. I would expect both teams to finally break out of their funks and start playing real baseball again. Hopefully D-back fans will outnumber Dodger fans.....please Phoenix...represent Arizona out there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tough night for Webb and D-backs offense

Well, Brandon Webb still has one more start left in August to try to get that 20th win milestone before September. That's about all that can be said after last night's 9-2 loss to the Padres. It was a very trying game for Webb, as he struggled early and often. He ended up allowing six earned runs on nine hits in only 4 2/3. Boy oh boy. Not very often you see that happen...but it's baseball and it does. He said afterward that he felt fine but just didn't have good stuff.

The most frustrating part of that game however, was the offense. Threee lousy hits in the game, two of the three in the first five innings off of Padres starter Chad Reineke, whom the D-backs beat last week at Chase. So two games down, and Arizona has a combined eight hits in this series against one of the worst teams in baseball.

"Just couldn't get the big hit with the guys on base," Melvin said. "Who knows? In the first four or five innings maybe one more hit opens the floodgates a little bit, but we couldn't get the big hit. [Reineke] did get some strikeouts when we had guys on base, maybe [we were] trying to be a little too aggressive, maybe pressing a little too hard to come up with the big hit when we had some guys on."
Meanwhile, the Dodgers keep losing as well, and the D-backs are not able to take any advantage of it. Watch out for those Rockies.....only six back now as they've now won four in a row. Early game today as Randy Johnson again goes for win 295 against the Padres Cha Seung Baek (4-9).

Absolute must game today for the D-backs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gerut does in D-backs in ninth

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why on earth do the D-backs and Jon Rauch throw anything decent to Jody Gerut there in the bottom of the ninth. This guy has killed the D-backs this year, and has killed Rauch. I just don't understand it. If this sounds like deja vu...well it is....because it's exactly the same thing that Ty Wigginton of the Astros did to Arizona a week ago.

So, in this particular situation, why doesn't Bob Melvin either a.) pitch way around Gerut, b.) intentionally walk him, or c.) bring in another arm out of the bullpen...one that may provide a more favorable match up for the D-backs. You just knew it would happen....Gerut just did the same thing to Rauch at Chase Field last week for goodness sake. I know, everyone is a second-guesser and armchair manager, but baseball is all about match ups, and it seems that they have been ignored on way too many occasions here.

So, D-backs lose it 4-2 in the ninth on the two-run yard ball by Gerut. This kind of game is so frustrating to watch. Dan Haren pitched a very solid seven innings giving up two runs, followed by a scoreless eighth by Tony Pena. Then in the ninth it blew up. That being said however, the D-backs only managed five hits in the game, and two of those came from Haren. Jake Peavy went six for the Padres, and only gave up a couple of runs as well.

Fortunately the Dodgers lost again.....so three game lead sticks another day. Hopefully good things will happen tomorrow when Brandon Webb goes for numero 20.

Marlins once again handle D-backs

If you're the Arizona Diamondbacks, you better hope that the Florida Marlins stay down and don't make any hint of getting in the playoffs this year. Because if that buzz saw of a team were to run into the D-backs, Arizona could kiss their chances goodbye. These guys just have their number (7-2 in season series). Marlins win the series yesterday by taking it 5-2 at Chase Field.

And one of the biggest guys who has their number is Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco. He went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA this year against the D-backs...this year! Only managing four hits off this guy, half of them by Stephen Drew including a first inning homer, will not get it done.

Doug Davis however, also threw a terrific game. His seven innings and three runs to go along with eight strikeouts and no walks were very nice indeed.

"It wasn't fun, but they got me going to where I can pitch today," Davis said. "I threw a lot of strikes. My mechanics were there. The arm felt good and the back felt good, so I can't complain. I had a quality start and gave us a chance to win, but I was just plain outpitched."
Trailing 3-2 going into the ninth, Brandon Lyon was inserted into another non-save situation....just knew disaster was ensuing. Sure enough, three hits and two runs later, this game was history. I can understand why Melvin keeps running him out there even in non-save situations - he's trying to get him right so that he can rely on him down the stretch. But, at this point, better to keep him out of non-save games, and better yet keep him out of all home games as well. They can't afford too many more of these outings now.

Tonight goes back to the pitching matchup from last week of Dan Haren and Jake Peavy, but this time in San Diego. As compared to that anomaly last week, in this ballpark it really should be a pitchers dual out there.

But, the best news of the day came when the Phillies hit a walk off three-run homer in extra innings against the Dodgers.....outstanding. So, the D-backs keep their three game lead in the West.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Petit spectacular in big win over fish

Yusmeiro Petit pitched one heckuva game last night in pacing the D-backs in their 7-1 victory last night against the Marlins. You gotta hand it to this guy...he is more than a solid number five starter now. He went his normal maxium of six innings last night, and only gave up a single run on only two hits. He also struckout six without a walk.

The way he has been so consistent this year, I think he really belongs in that number four slot in the rotation. Otherwise, he will consistently get skipped in the rotation down the stretch here. There was some conversation from Bob Melvin on that subject after the game.

"For the most part, we're going to stay with the big three and Dougie [Doug Davis]," Melvin said. "We'll take a look at it. We'll probably try to stay with our guys down the stretch, but he makes it difficult to do that.

"He ended up pitching a great game. ... He's got some deception to him, he's locating the ball better, pitches down in the zone better than we've seen him in the past. It seems like the more he's out there, the more comfortable he is."

I know that Davis is a gamer, and there's a good chance that he'll be solid down the stretch as well....but with Petit...you know exactly what you are going to get every time out there. He will give you five to six innings, give up one to three runs, and give the D-backs a chance to win. I mean, his season ERA is now down at 2.83! With Davis, anything goes.

I say the two guys should be flip-flopped in the rotation down the stretch. But, I know that won't happen.....

Interesting to see that Nick Piecoro noted yesterday that Davis has had some back stiffness of late that that there was some concern he'd miss today's start. But he threw a side session on Friday, and it seemed OK.

But, Davis looks to get a shot in the rubber game today as the D-backs will try to extend their three game lead in the West after the Dodgers lost again yesterday.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bullpen falters as Unit has to wait again for 295

Too bad for Randy Johnson. He pitched his @$*! off tonight, and unfortunately could not come out of it with a W. Seven full innings and struck out a season high 13, and surrendered only three runs (only one earned) on five hits. Like I said, these Marlins are a pesky group that seem to always play well against the D-backs.

With Arizona trailing 3-2 when Johnson came out of the game in the seventh, they promptly came back in the bottom half and added two runs on a Stephen Drew single and a Chris Young double. It really looked like at that point that 295 was in the cards for the Unit. But, Jon Rauch brought his gas can to the mound in the eighth, as he fooled absolutely nobody out there. He quickly gave up two runs and that was the ballgame.

Tough night for big Adam Dunn....he wore the collar with three punchouts.

Dodgers lose big to the Phillies....so no lost ground in the West...two games and holding.

Webb sweeps up the Friars

Brandon Webb....what more can be said about this guy. He went seven last night as the D-backs took it 4-1 to sweep the Padres.

Webb only gave up three hits in his seven innings, but did have three walks to go along with his eight punchouts. He didn't seem overly dominate as he had to work out of jams in several innings, but he did what he needed to do, and that's exactly how Webb operates. Scary moment in the sixth when Padre Kevin Kouzmanoff crushed a liner right off of Webb's ribcage. He pounced right after the ball and made the out, but it was obvious that was painful. He continued on and didn't really show any signs that it was bothering him, although in the seventh with his pitch count nearing 100, it was obvious that he was laboring out there. Bob Melvin said after the game that there was no signs of damage to the ribs, should just be some soreness for a few days. Whew.

Conor Jackson had the biggest night offensively for the D-backs, as he's showing signs of coming out of a mini-slump he's been in for the last week or so. A couple of doubles along with two RBIs and a run - the biggest being the two-run double in the fifth to extend the lead from 1-0 to 3-0. Big Adam Dunn also did his thing last night with three walks and a run. I love this quote from Jackson on Dunn:

"He's on base every time," Jackson said of Dunn. "There's something to be said for a confidence booster. ... We added a monster."
He's right...this guy is a monster.

Heard Mark Reynolds on 620 KTAR yesterday with Gambo and Ash, and they mentioned the whole taking grounders at second base sighting. Reynolds seemed more than happy to move to second if needed, as he talked about having played there coming up in college and the minors. Still, he just doesn't seem athletic enough to be a major league second baseman. I'd be shocked if he gets any playing time there this year.

Dodgers won again yesterday, so Arizona holds it's two game lead in the West. A scary, pesky team coming to Phoenix tonight in the Marlins. For some reason the D-backs do not play particularly well against these guys. Got the Big Unit going tonight against Anibal Sanchez. Let's hope Johnson can snag 295 tonight. Wonder if Justin Upton will make it back in the lineup this weekend....I honestly can't wait for that because I just want to see what Melvin's plans are here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

D-backs overpower Padres to win series

I still can't believe what I saw tonight in the first inning of the D-backs/Padres game. I mean, this is Dan Haren vs. Jake Peavy. I was banking on a barely two-hour game with these guys throwing up zero after zero. Well, somebody forgot to tell Haren and Peavy that they were...well...Haren and Peavy. But, in the end, the D-backs prevailed once again to win it 8-6 and in doing so win their third consecutive series.

Both guys got lit up in the first inning. Haren inexplicably gave up a four spot, including a two-run homer to Kevin Kouzmanoff. But, as I mentioned after yesterday's game, Arizona has been absolute money in delivering multiple runs in the first inning. Adam Dunn made sure that was the case again tonight as he launched a missle to right-field to inch the D-backs within a run.

Also, as in last night's game, the D-backs were very efficient in their hits to runs ratio. Very similar box scores from last night and tonight. Last night it was seven runs on seven hits with 10 walks. Tonight it was eight runs on six hits and eight walks. By contrast the Padres actually had 12 hits tonight.....but zero walks. The Diamondbacks seem to clearly be getting more bases on balls since Dunn has arrived. It's a bit contagious it seems. Dunn had two more walks tonight to go with this laser beam dinger. He really is making things happen....and I like it.

Very interesting to see big Jon Rauch enter the game as the closer. You got the feeling it was in reaction to Brandon Lyon's recent struggles, but Bob Melvin semi squashed that during the post-game presser when he said Lyon would be closing tomorrow. However, the way he pulled the cord on Lyon yesterday in the ninth, I would not be surprised at all if Rauch ends up the full-time closer by the end of the season. Having said that though, Rauch hasn't exactly been tearing it up either. He's given up at least a run in three of his last four appearances. So.....

I see Nick Piecoro is reporting that there has been a sighting of Mark Reynolds taking second base infield practice. I still think it make more sense to put Dunn at first and basically leave everyone else where they are now. I just don't see a major defensive merry-go-round as something that would be a positive as they enter the pennant stretch here.

And just as good as the D-backs winning tonight....the Dodgers losing 4-3 to the Rockies. Yes. D-backs take a two-game lead. Arizona and Brandon Webb go for the series sweep tomorrow. Come on fans....get your butts in seats out there.

Davis does just enough to pace D-backs over Padres

Well, gotta hand it to Doug Davis. He's probably the most nerve-wracking pitcher to watch in the history of the game. He just consistently puts so many guys on base, and somehow manages to get out of most situations. He did just that last night, as somehow was able to only give up two runs in his six innings of work, as the D-backs held on to win it 7-6 at Chase.

Davis is now 5-7 on the year, and once again he's heading toward that .500 record he seems to get every year. He's one of those rare guys that does just enough to get things done, albeit with a bit of smoke and mirrors along the way.

As for Brandon Lyon...geez....heading to the ninth inning with a 7-3 lead seems automatic. Well, a rusty Lyon (had been off for six days and Melvin had indicated he would pitch tonight regardless if a save situation or not) was not fooling anyone out there as he gave up four hits and three runs and only one out in his disastrous appearance. Tony Pena then came in and was fortunately able to finish it out.

The Arizona offense was well, efficient. They were able to get their seven runs on only seven hits, including Adam Dunn's first dinger as a D-back, a two-run shot in the fourth. Dunn was happy to contribute and felt some of the anxiety in this one.

"It was kind of nerve-wracking, but I settled down a lot quicker than I did in Colorado," Dunn said of his home debut. "That's such a good feeling. That's not a feeling that I've been getting very often besides maybe Opening Day and opening day of deer season."
Once again they scored early and often, as they put a four spot on the board in the first. But, then Davis went out in the second and got into all kinds of trouble, and was very fortunate to only surrender two runs there.

Stephen Drew was not in the lineup for the first time in what seems like forever, as he continues to rest a groin strain that had flared up on the past road trip. He looks to be back tonight. But, of course Augie Ojeda did a bang up job out there last night, going 2-for-4 , although he did have a throwing error.

Dodgers got smoked by the Rockies last night, as Arizona once again takes a one game lead in the West. This team just refuses to give up first place - gotta be impressed.

Tremendous pitching matchup tonight with Danny Haren up against Jake Peavy, as Haren goes for win number 14 on the year. This should be a classic one tonight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dodgers getting Maddux - woohoo!

The L.A. Times and L.A. Daily News are both reporting that the Dodgers are actively talking with the Padres about acquiring Greg Maddux. That is absolutely music to my ears.

Nothing would help the D-backs more to help neutralize the Manny Ramirez trade than for LA to grab Maddux. As all D-backs fans know, Arizona absolutely owns Greg Maddux. He is a career 3-11 with a 5.37 ERA against them.

Please Ned Colletti...I'm pleading....please pull the trigger on this one. You won't be sorry ;-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wigginton beats Unit and D-backs

OK...coming into the final game of this D-backs/Astros series, Ty Wigginton was 6-for-8 with two doubles, a homer, and four runs scored. He was also riding a 13-game hitting streak where he saw his average go from .267 to .302. Oh, and Wigginton also came into the game a career .360 hitter (9-for-25) against Randy Johnson. Enough buildup, you get the point.

So, why on earth are Diamondback pitchers giving this guy absolutely anything in the strike zone??

Now go to the first inning with two guys on and two out. Randy Johnson in on the hill and Wigginton comes to the plate. Hmm....what should happen here? Well, not what did happen and that was Wigginton blasted one into left for what turned out to be the game winner and final score, 3-0. Why give him anything in that spot???? Don't get it...

"I didn't make the pitch when I needed to," Johnson said. "I made one mistake, I guess that's what it comes down to. That was pretty much the whole ballgame right there."
Anyway, with the way Roy Oswalt pitched today, it really didn't matter, because the D-backs weren't about to score any runs. One hit over eight innings. Dominant in every aspect. Two hits total, and both went to Stephen Drew. Good to see Drew still dialed in after snapping his hitting streak yesterday.

All in all though, can't complain one bit about that road trip. Winning both series in Colorado and Houston is exactly what they wanted. Let's hope they can look at that way, and not take anything home from today's game.

The Dodgers did win as well....so....back to being knotted at the top again. This is going to be some fun down the stretch.

Grand Salami's reign in another monster win for D-backs

I had thought yesterday that if Yusmeiro Petit could give five or six solid innings and offense showed up again, that the D-backs would be in good shape. Well, Petit did seven and the offense again busted through with maximum output, as Arizona slammed the Astros again, 11-5.

Once again the D-backs jumped up early in the first, scoring five runs thanks to a grand slam by Miguel Montero. That is just so huge to get up early like that for a pitcher, and Petit was able to settle in early and cruise. Houston starter Brandon Backe clearly took one for the team yesterday, as he gave up all 11 runs in his five plus innings of work. So, coming into the game, Arizona only had one grand slam this season. When Chris Young hit his grand slam in the sixth, it was now up to three. This offense continues to amaze me how inconsistent it has shown to be this year.

Only downside to the game: Stephen Drew's hitting streak comes to an end after 17 games. He did contribute though with a couple of walks and runs.

Side note: does anybody actually like the job Matt Williams does as a color commentator? Seriously. He has absolutely no life in him. I realize he's on the Diamondbacks payroll, but enough already. The Sutton/Grace combo works very well together, but every weekend I shudder at thought of having Williams call the game.

The Dodgers finally lost last night, giving Arizona a one game cushion now. The Big Unit goes for 295 at 11:05 this morning. Go for the jugular guys.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Webb very Webb like in Astros beatdown

So much for the Astros eight-game winning streak and any momentum they may be riding. The D-backs came into town and blew their doors off 12-2 as if they were coming off an eight-game skid instead.

Go ahead and start engraving the Cy Young trophy, beginning with the letter B.

Well, you knew after Dan Haren pitched a gem on Thursday, that Brandon Webb would also go out in the opener of the Astros series last night and well, pitch like your typical Cy Young. And indeed he did. With instant offensive support in the top of the first (three runs), that was all Webb needed as he mowed down Houston over eight innings, giving up only two runs on four hits. He's at 18-4 now....four wins ahead of all other pitchers in the National League.
"I was getting ahead of most of the hitters," Webb said. "I was pretty
aggressive in the strike zone and I was able to keep the ball on the ground, for
the most part. I don't know if it was my best one, but it was pretty good
though."
The offense was all over the base paths. Tallying 14 hits and eight walks, Houston was on the ropes all night. With Chris Cubed (Chris Burke, Chris Young, and Chris Snyder) all going yard, it was fun to watch. Geez...it took Burke coming back to Houston for him to come alive...2-for-5 with a 3-run jack, his second home run in two days. He had not hit one all year, and since Adam Dunn supposedly predicted his first one in Thursday's game, he's been on a two-game tear....

It was good to see Tony Clark have a big game, going 3-for-3 and on-base five times in the game. He's gotten a bit lost in the shuffle since Dunn came over, but he clearly doesn't want to give up any playing time either.

Stephen Drew hitting streak watch:

He bumped it up to 17, by going 2-for-4 with a couple of runs scored. He's now up to .284.

Those pesky Dodgers won again last night for their fifth straight win - so both teams still together at the top. Yusmeiro Petit going today, so gotta hope he can give a solid five to six, and the offense continues their productivity. With so many of the Diamondback players having Houston ties, it does certainly help when it comes to game time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Haren and homers take down Rockies in finale

First of all, I have been quite remiss in giving props to Stephen Drew of late. The guy has been absolute nails during his 16-game hitting streak, which included a 2-for-5 today that has lifted his average to a now very solid .282 on the season. Drew is as dialed in as he's been in a couple of years...looking very much like he did after being called up in the middle of the '06 campaign.

As for today's game....now that's what I'm talking about. Dan Haren was again back to his typical self (after a couple of previous so-so outings), and took it hard to the Rockies in beating them 6-2 to win the series. A full eight innings with nine K's and a couple of walks. That's solid. I said earlier this was a must game, and the D-backs played like it was. Haren afterward sounded like he was pleased with his outing as well.

"I haven't really been throwing the ball too well lately," Haren said. "I threw the ball great for two months and have been going through a stretch where I'm scuffling a little bit, but you know, that's just part of a long season. Making 33, 34 starts, not all of them are going to be great.

"I just felt a lot better out there, just smooth with my mechanics and was able to put my ball where I wanted to."

Haren also helped the club at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. The rest of the lineup did some damage as well. Chris Snyder and Chris Burke went deep back-to-back in the fifth off of Rockies starter Glendon Rusch. Rusch was mowing them down through the first four...and then the wheels came off as he as hammered in the fifth. Adam Dunn also came through with his first RBIs since coming over, hitting a two-run single in that same inning. It's quite impressive that the D-backs are 10-2 this year against Colorado. But then again, this is not the same Rockies team either.

Now going to Houston for a three-game series, with Brandon Webb taking the hill, Arizona will have their hands full in taking on these guys. The Astros have now won eight in a row and now have an identical record with the D-backs (62-59). Playing in the Juice Box in Houston is always a good time...I really like the layout of this one. The Dodgers won again tonight against the Phills...so the two teams stay knotted at the top.

This is going to be some fun watching this race go down to the final weekend.....


****************************************************************************

I see that the Diamondbacks finally announced who the other player was in the trade with Dunn. It's AAA Tucson catcher Wilkin Castillo. Didn't figure it would be another known guy like Owings. It looks like Owings has not cleared waivers as yet.

Tough night all in all for D-backs in loss to Rockies

Well, up to this point, newcomer Jon Rauch has been automatic for the D-backs out of the pen in the eighth. All good things must come to and end, as Rauch served up a two-run homer to break a 4-4 tie, and put the Rockies up for good as they take it 6-5.

The D-backs got behind the 8 ball early, as Doug Davis once again found himself struuugggeeelllling out of the gate. A few runs in the first and second, and the hole had been dug. Davis did manage to settle down in the next few innings, which was good to see.

Gotta hand it to the guys for mounting a very nice comeback. Even in the ninth inning, down, 6-4, they made a valient effort to push across some runs. And how classic was it to have the bases juiced, two outs, and a full count to Adam Dunn in the top of the ninth. The guy has a great eye, so a walk there is very possible, and of course a strikeout is just as likely. But, Dunn made contact and grounded out weakly to the shortstop to end it. He was not happy afterward:

"They positioned it right," Dunn said. "That's why I was brought over here and to not get the job done, that's very frustrating for me. That's disappointing because this team fights and it's fun to be a part of and it just stinks that we were in that situation and I couldn't come through."
No prob Adam - you'll have plenty of more opportunity in the next six weeks. It was also good to see that Chad Tracy is still playing in job-saving mode since the Dunn acquisition. He hit his second bomb in as many nights. He's doing the best he can to save himself from being a role player, and it may be difficult for Bo Mel to do that.

With Danny Haren going in an early game today, redemption is only a few hours away. But....with Manny and the Dodgers winning last night, the D-backs and and Dodgers are now knotted atop the NL West. I see this as a must win today for the D-backs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Unit big time again in D-backs win over Rox

Well....he was who we thought he was....Adam Dunn came in and played his first game as a D-back tonight, went 1-for-3 with two walks and two punchouts. Yep...that's Adam Dunn. Not too bad of a first game, and more importantly the D-backs take the first one of the series against the Rockies, 4-2.

Randy Johnson was..... well, just as terrific as he's been in his last six or seven starts. He went six innings, gave up a couple of runs, and won his tenth of the year. He even picked up an RBI single in the sixth. However, it was a bit scary to watch the Unit cruising into first base as he was clutching his lower back. He seemed to have tweaked it a bit either with this swing, or in running down to first. In the bottom half of the inning, he then showed signs on the mound that the back was bothering him, as he took an extra amount of time between pitches. Bob Melvin went out and checked on him, and Johnson indicated he was fine. Let's certainly hope so. As much as the Diamondbacks rely on Webby and Haren, this team also needs a rock solid Randy Johnson if they intend to make the playoffs.

It was nice to see, and not all the surprising to be honest, to see Chad Tracy light it up (3-for-5 with a two-run missile in the second) offensively tonight. It's no surprise that Tracy may draw the short straw when it comes to playing time once Justin Upton returns to the team, and the lineup deck of cards gets reshuffled again. So, it will be nice to see that Tracy makes it a very difficult decision for Melvin to make once that time comes.

As for the Dunn trade, it looks like Micah Owings is one of the two players to be named later, and would either go to the Reds very shortly or at the end of the season, depending on when he's placed on waivers and if he clears them or not. Something tells me that Owings will end up being a Rick Ankiel type story, with pitching being a thing of the past soon...we'll see...but the very best of luck to Micah.

The Dodgers and Phillies are currently tied at 3 in the ninth - so D-backs will either hold their one game lead or push it to two.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Big move for D-backs..big questions remain

Well...gotta be honest, not sure I saw this one coming. Sure, there was talk about bringing Adam Dunn from the Reds to AZ prior to the July 31 deadline, but after the bats started to turn around some and the deadline passed, so did any talk of Dunn. But, GM Josh Byrnes and the front office did in fact pull that off today, as they picked up Dunn off of waivers for Class-A right-hander Dallas Buck and two other players to be named later.

"Obviously, we've been looking for more offense," D-backs GM Josh Byrnes said. "Adam is one of the premier hitters against right-handed pitching in all of baseball. Just from the offensive side of things he will give us a lift."
The offensive side should help...the defense....will not. It's been curious trying to figure out exactly who those two are...but AZ Republic writer Nick Piecoro is indicating that both are on the 40-man roster, so that cuts it down.

As for Adam Dunn...what exactly are the D-backs getting here? Seems to be a Mark Reynolds type of player, albeit with a better on-base percentage and slugging percentage. But he will give Reynolds and Chris Young a run for their money trying to rack up the most K's. Dunn is a career .247 hitter in eight seasons. But the obvious bonus is his power: 32 dingers (tied for major league lead with.....uhh....err.....Carlos Quentin) and 74 RBIs.

The big question will be where in the field Dunn will play. Bob Melvin quickly answered that one today:
"Tomorrow he will be playing right field and hitting fourth," Melvin said of Dunn, who played left in Cincinnati this year and is not known as a great defender.
So, the obvious question is where he will play once Justin Upton returns in the next couple of weeks. Dunn could play left (where he has played this year with the Reds), or first base as well.
"We're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves," Melvin said. "When [Upton] gets back we'll look at our options. Obviously, we have some moving pieces around here, whether it's Chad Tracy or Conor Jackson or whoever, and we'll continue to try and run the best lineup out there on a day-to-day basis."
There's discussion about possibly moving Mark Reynolds to second, Chad Tracy to third, et al....it's dizzying thinking about all of the options here.

So, it's apparent that Dunn will play right until Upton is back. After he returns, and knowing Bo Mel the way we all do, he'll probably use all 100 combinations and permutations that are possible. But if it were up to me, this is the predominant infield/outfield I think they should have out there:

1B Adam Dunn
2B Augie Ojeda
SS Stephen Drew
3B Mark Reynolds
LF Conor Jackson
CF Chris Young
RF Justin Upton

Where does that leave Chad Tracy? Platooning...but that's ok...it's a nice luxury to have. So, is it a good move? I'd say so. He is supposed to be a great clubhouse guy and a good character - so that shouldn't be an issue. But, any time you are taking playing time away from other guys, things can happen. Does he provide an answer to the Manny Ramirez trade? Absolutely not. But, he does give the D-backs the power hitting offense they have sought after for so long....wait....since Richie Sexson came to town...argh....But, I'll still give it the thumbs up.

D-backs break skid behind Webby

Of course Brandon Webb would be the man to stop Arizona's 4-game losing streak. And not only with his arm but with his bat as well. Webby threw 96 pitches in six innings, giving up only one run on six hits. Chad Qualls and Jon Rauch then came in and shut the door in the final three. Qualls looked to be back to his April self...going two full innings...that's the Qualls this team absolutely has to have going down the stretch.

So, Webb gets his 17th W of the year - boy it's hard to imagine if he doesn't win the Cy Young.

You could just tell right from the start, that the players looked a bit pissed off and weren't about to lose this game. Well, being swept at home by the Braves in a four-game series would be a disaster. But, they pulled through and did the the job. They did only manage to scratch out six hits in the game, but they were all timely. From Mark Reynolds' two-run double, to Webb's two-run double, and Chris Snyder's solo shot, they certainly made the most of them.

As most have heard by now, Orlando Hudson being done for the year after breaking/dislocating his wrist in Saturday's game is obviously a huge blow to the team. Hudson had surgery that night, and was actually the first of two surgeries needed on the wrist. It really is too bad, because O-dog was having such an impressive year, both at the plate (.305) and in the field with his usual Gold Glove defense. Augie Ojeda will be asked to step in, along with Chris Burke, to fill the void for the remainder of the season. Ojeda of course did the same last year when Hudson went down, but that was only for the last month of the season, not for the last two months. But, I think the Ojeda/Burke combo will do a bang up job out there. Burke for one, certainly has something to prove as he has struggled the entire year at the plate. Maybe this will galvanize him to better things the rest of the way.

With the Dodgers losing again (woohoo Giants), the Diamondbacks get back their 1 1/2 game lead heading into a three-game series with the Rockies at Coors Field tomorrow night. It's quite amazing actually, that they have only not been in the lead of this division for four games the entire season.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dodgers now right on D-backs heals

After getting a little bit of a cushion over the last couple of weeks, it's now back down to 1/2 game. Last night's 11-6 loss makes it three in a row now in defeat, while the Dodgers have won two straight. Doug Davis struggled for the second consecutive start, and Brandon Lyon pissed away any chance the D-backs would have had in the bottom of the ninth by giving up three runs in the top half. Really not sure why Bo Mel had him in there. And he threw 30 pitches. That doesn't bode well for today and tomorrow if he's needed, and I'd say there's a good chance he will be needed.

Alex Romero continues to impress me more and more every time I see him. And not just because he autographed my son's baseball at a AAA Sidewinders game earlier in the year - but it doesn't hurt. The guy can flat out play the outfield (hint, hint Justin Upton), and really puts together good at-bats every game. It will be interesting to see what happens to him once Upton comes back (he looks to be heading to AAA Tucson soon to begin his rehab). I'd like to see him stick somewhere in the outfield...we'll see....

With Dan Haren and Brandon Webb finishing off the series, the hope certainly is that Arizona can at least hold their lead, and hopefully increase it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

D-backs fall short in opener

Well....one good thing we saw tonight is that the Diamondbacks had some fight in them. After Tony Pena (I'll get to him more later), blew up in top of the eighth and gave up four runs, Arizona came back in the bottom half and got four right back. They could have just rolled over and gotten back-to-back shutout losses, but they didn't, and that's good to see.

However.....Tony Pena...I just don't have any confidence in him anymore. He just gives up so many hits, that it's a balancing act every time out there for him. Other than a couple of quality innings in the San Diego series, it's been a long, rough stretch. Skipper Bo Mel said in the post game presser that maybe he's just losing some confidence. Well...this no time to start losing your confidence, get that back in Tucson...not in a pennant race in August.

And that big-time Braves pitcher Charlie Morton......you know...come on......Charlie Morton.... tied the hands of D-backs hitters once again. Much like Karstens yesterday, Morton was on top of his game, going seven innings of shutout ball, while giving up five hits.

Once again a very solid outing from Yusmeiro Petit for the D-backs. Going five innings and giving up two runs...that's exactly what the team is asking of him. He just doesn't seem to get any breaks when he heads out there.

Nice to see Mark Reynolds get another dinger...24 on the year, along with 76 RBIs...not too shabby.

Dodgers win tonight....so lead trimmed to 1 1/2.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

D-backs blown away by Karstens

How on earth did the D-backs pound the ball so hard in the first inning, albeit all for outs, and somehow not be able to actually scratch out a hit until the eighth inning?? Well, the easy answer is because they were once again facing a guy they'd never seen before. Hmm...heard that one a few hundred times before. I realize this issue us not specific to the Diamondbacks, but it's almost automatic with this team. Any half-decent pitcher that they've never faced before, always comes out like Cy Young and totally baffles them. Has the game now come down to strictly having prior experience against a pitcher? What happened to just see the ball, hit the ball. Anyway...enough ranting.

I'll give it up to Pirates starter Jeff Karstens, who pitched an incredible game. That's an understatement. Taking a perfect game until two outs in the eighth?? Holy cow. Randy Johnson actually pitched an outstanding game himself, and was more than impressed by Karstens' performance.

"Jeff pitched an outstanding game," Johnson said. "I got to meet him a little bit in New York; he was kind of on that shuttle up and down. He opened a lot of eyes. He pitched a good game, and it was a battle."
Oh well....they win the series, and the Dodgers lose again tonight as well. So, Arizona holds on to its 2 1/2 game lead. Not all is bad. The ATL comes into town tomorrow to start a four-game set, and then the D-backs finally get an off day on Monday. This Braves series sets up nicely with Haren and Webb finishing it off on Saturday and Sunday. Taking three of four here is certainly in order.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

D-backs "other" good starter gets win over Pirates

Dan Haren agreed today to a four-year extension with the D-backs, which will keep him in Phoenix at least through 2012, with a club option for 2013. How much cash are we talking about here? About 44.75 million.....not bad....for either the Diamondbacks or Haren. Said GM Josh Byrnes on making the deal:

"He's been everything we had hoped for and more," D-backs GM Josh Byrnes said. "His performance has even gone to a higher level. I think the most impressive thing about him is the motivation for winning."
I agree wholeheartedly. And I agree it's a good price to pay for a pitcher right in the prime of his pitching career. Mucho kudos to Byrnes and the other front office suits for making this happen. I continue to be impressed with most of the decisions the execs make in terms of laying down a foundation for consistent winning in the future.

Ahh....now Brandon Webb....how much is he going to cost and can the D-backs afford to give him the 80-100 million he will most likely command?? Based on what I've seen, I think it most certainly will happen. And could possibly be at the expense of keeping Orlando Hudson next year...

As for tonight, Mr. Webb went all nine tonight in one of the quickest games all year...1:55. Webb was certainly efficient as he threw to contact most of the night, finishing with only 103 pitches. He also had four punchouts and not a single walk. That's our 16-4 B. Webb.

Nice to see Chris Young go yard as well with his two-run shot in the third. But, like I mentioned earlier, Young just can't seem to put together enough hits in enough games to climb through the .240 mark. Even with his dinger tonight, he still went 1-for-4. It's just frustrating to see a guy with that much talent not finishing things off with better results.

And to add to the good news of the night, the Dodgers go down in 11 to the Cardinals...so that puts the D-backs up 2 1/2....Randy will go for he sweep in an afternoon game tomorrow...put the pedal down and gun it.

D-backs whip up on Pitttsburgh

As I mentioned about a week and a half ago, I expected the D-backs to go 7-3 on that big 10-game roady to California. And wouldn't ya know it, they indeed went 7-3 on that trip. However, I was only half-right in my prediction. I had also said that Arizona would start to create some separation in the NL West....well...not so fast. That prediction came pre-Manny Ramirez. Wow...that guy can flat out mash. I tell you, it's going to be awfully difficult to keep the Dodgers in the rear-view mirror of the Diamondbacks the rest of the way...

As for tonight, Dan Haren certainly didn't have his best stuff (or command) early on, but the D-backs bats were too much for the Pirates as they cranked out 18 hits en route to their 13-7 win at Chase. It's exactly these types of wins that Haren was unable to get early in the season, but was fortunate to get tonight, as he now goes to 12-5 on the year. Baseball always has a way of evening things out over a year....almost always.

As for the bats, nearly everyone was pleased looking at the boxscore afterward. none more so than Mark Reynolds, who was 3-for-5 with his 23rd round-tripper of the year. Chris Young also went 3-for-4, including a long triple that you could he really wanted to stretch into an inside-the-parker. I can't believe Young is still hitting only .234 on the year. He just cannot bust through that .240 mark even...he has absolutely flatlined in the .230 range.

Brandon Webb goes tomorrow night against Zach Duke. Barring seeing something unforseen, there's no reason why Arizona won't win again tomorrow and try to increase their 1 1/2 game lead in the West. They are really going to have to turn it on these last 50 games....I don't see the Dodgers melting away any time soon.