Vargas, Jackson Lead D’Backs Over Peavy, Pads,  7-0

Sun18_3 Claudio Vargas, the Diamondbacks’ No. 5 pitcher, threw 7 shutout innings as the D’Backs finally solved the riddle of Jake Peavy, who had been their nemesis for the past year and a half. Vargas did not do well his last two times out, but he’s been working on some things with Arizona pitching coach Brian Price, and tonight he looked like an ace. He walked no one while striking out four. Brandon Medders pitched a scoreless eighth and Greg Aquino blanked the Padres in the ninth. Diamondbacks 7 – Padres 0.

The offense was led by first baseman Conor Jackson, who had 4 RBI in a 3-5 night. Luis Gonzalez went 2-4 and batted in two runs. The other RBI went to Johnny Estrada, who hit a sac fly.

It was "Welcome Back" night for leadoff hitter Craig Counsell, who has been nursing a sore hamstring of late. He went 3-5 with three runs scored.

Housefly_3 Two guys in the lineup contributed nothing to the thirteen hit and 1 sac fly attack: Chad Tracy and Eric Byrnes. Yup, much to my surprise, Eric started tonight, despite the fact that we’d been hearing that Jeff DaVanon would spell him against "tough righties." Peavy is one of the toughest righties in the league. And Byrnesie hit like the start might have surprised him, too. He went 0-4 with a strikeout (caught looking his first time up) and an intentional walk.

The worst of it came in the 6th inning, when Estrada was IBB’d to load the bases for Byrnesie. He popped to shallow right on the third pitch, which I thought was a ball. It’s a situation I have seen before. When Byrnesie comes back from getting benched–and he started only 4 of the 10 games prior to this one, did not play yesterday, pinch-ran the day before, and pinch-hit the day before that–he presses, trying to prove himself. And when he does that, ugly things happen.

The first ugly thing that happens is that he loses his patience. Peavy was not exceptionally sharp tonight. Byrnesie needed to wait him out a little, especially with the bases loaded. His overall P/PA tonight was 3.20 (And that’s that one of the PA’s was the IBB in the 7th). The popouts to the first baseman down the right field line, and the second baseman in shallow right came on the third pitch each time, and off the end of the bat. I thought the pitch on which he popped up with the bases loaded was a ball.

The second ugly thing that happens is that he forgets his level swing. That was especially evident to me in the 9th inning, when he flied out to right. An early uppercut, with what looks to me like a flick of the wrists, does not send the ball far enough. The same pitch, thrown by the right-handed reliever Cassidy, would have gone for a double with a level swing.

The only thing I can say for the IBB in the seventh is that it offset the K in the second. I really don’t like Byrnesie batting eighth. With one out in the sixth, the Padres walked Estrada to get to Byrnes to set up the righty-righty matchup. In the seventh, the righty reliever Brazelton IBB’d Byrnes. Eric has a homer off Brazelton, there were two out and the pitcher was next. This is now the second time I have seen it recently. The first time, Byrnesie was not officially IBB’d, but he walked. Whenever there are two out, Byrnes batting eighth and the pitcher due up, you are going to see Byrnesie get a free pass unless the bases are already loaded. Why risk pitching to a guy with pop in his bat when the pitcher can make the third out? Such walks would help Eric’s K/BB ratio and his OBP, but they won’t help his batting average, his RBI totals or his runs scored totals.

Byrnes is now 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Shawn Green is now 1-15 in that situation, leaving four men on base today, as Byrnes also did. But Green went 2-5 and now has a higher batting average than Byrnes: .239 to .235. It’s taking a lot of multi-hit days for Green to get his batting average up but he’s doing it. Byrnes now must do likewise.

If Byrnesie is not to be forgotten, he needs to relax, be patient at the plate, and take level swings.

Note_3 Todd Helton has been diagnosed with an inflammation at the end of his small intestines. He has to rest and no date has been picked for his return to the Rockies. But at least he doesn’t have to have surgery.

Juan Encarnacion of the St.Louis Cardinals has had a bad early season, but tonight was a special night: He went 3-4 with 4 RBI. All three hits were XBH: a double, a homer, and a triple. Plus, he made a great diving catch in the outfield. Our Cardinals-fan bloggers are thrilled no doubt. You’ll have to peel me off the ceiling when Eric Byrnes has a day like that. Felicitationes, Juan!

The Cleveland Indians walked David Ortiz to pitch to Manny Ramirez and the former Tribe member made them pay with a homer. As Red Sox Chick said when she posted on the subject: Do NOT disrespect the Ramirez!

I think they are the most devastating duo in the majors, though I know some Cardinals fans would reasonably vote for Pujols-Rolen.  Re: having to pitch to Ortiz or Ramirez, I have heard several broadcasters say "Pick your poison." So, Manny, now that David has signed his extension, don’t talk about leaving Boston any more! Being Big Papi’s protection is one of the best gigs in the game!

And speaking of the Cardinals, being Albert Pujols is another great gig. He has hit his 12th homer and April still has almost a week to go! I was watching ESPN at the gym yesterday afternoon and the big baseball question was: "Why are teams still pitching to Albert Pujols?" Good question. Cards fans, would you care to answer that one?

Kéllia Ramares
Oakland, CA

7 comments

  1. patromerocal@yahoo.com

    As to why Byrnes played:

    “Sitting: Outfielder Jeff DaVanon was out of the lineup Tuesday even though he is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak. Melvin is cognizant of not pushing DaVanon too hard given the fact that his throwing shoulder is “a little weak.

    “He’s a guy we have to be a little careful with too,” Melvin said. “We knew coming in with the shoulder he’s going to need his days. We’ve been running him out there a lot. He’s had some throws he’s had to make quite a bit. He’s probably played more early in the season than we expected him to.”

    DaVanon has started 12 of the club’s 20 games thus far with Eric Byrnes getting 11.”

    Well, maybe Eric will actually get a chance to get comfortable and get a rhythm going. You know, that rhythm they should have let him develop at the start of the season but didn’t.

    http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060425&content_id=1418303&vkey=news_ari&fext=.jsp&c_id=ari

  2. Kellia

    hmm. If DaVanon’s throwing shoulder is weak, it would have made all the sense in the world to have Eric at least enter the game late as a defensive replacement, after DaVanon got whatever hit he needed to keep his streak going. But he did not play on the 24th, and was only a pinch runner in the eighth inning on the 23rd, and not put into the field for the ninth.

  3. Kellia

    Pat,

    DaVanon is back in the line up today, against a 39 year-old righty who had one great season, 18-9 as a Cardinal in 2003, and has otherwise been non-descript his whole career. And he was 9-12 last year, when the Padres won the division.

    So the day DaVanon gets off because he needs to rest his weak throwing shoulder is the day the D’Backs face one of the best righties in the majors (Peavy), who had beaten the D’Backs for a year and a half. It wasn’t Peavy’s night, but Melvin wouldn’t have known that before the game. DaVanon obviously wasn’t hurting that much, since he’s in the lineup today. Since he was supposed to spell Byrnes against “tough righties”, and he’s hot with a high BA and a 9-game hitting streak, it seems to me he could have played the game against Peavy and then gotten two straight days off to rest the weak throwing shoulder, today and tomorrow’s off day.

    Cynical journalist me thinks Melvin wanted to do more than rest DaVanon’s shoulder. He wanted to protect DaVanon’s hitting streak against possibly being snapped by Peavy. And he doesn’t mind throwing Byrnesie under the bus, starting him against a premiere pitcher with whom he is unfamiliar, at a time when he has been riding the pine and thus, unable to build his hitting rhythm.

    My desire to see Melvin fired is approaching the ardor with which I want to see Bush impeached. That says a lot.

  4. patromerocal@yahoo.com

    Kellia, you mean you think BoMel is not above sabotaging Eric Byrnes’ career to protect the player for whom he developed a hard-on in Spring Training? Yeah, I think the same thing.

    I’m glad that the only thing Diamondbacks that I bought was a “Byrnes-22” t-shirt for my “Eric Byrnes MLB t-shirts; collect all 30” collection. I can’t support a team, even for Byrnsie’s sake, that deals in such an underhanded manner with its players. Even if he’s with the team all year, I’ll be hoping that the DBacks end up in the NL West cellar this year.

  5. Kellia

    “Kellia, you mean you think BoMel is not above sabotaging Eric Byrnes’ career to protect the player for whom he developed a hard-on in Spring Training?”

    Yeah, but then I’m also considered a “conspiracy theorist” by most of the folks at KPFA, so this just goes along with it. ;+)

    “I’m glad that the only thing Diamondbacks that I bought was a “Byrnes-22” t-shirt for my “Eric Byrnes MLB t-shirts; collect all 30″ collection.”

    I have the cap, which I ordered the day after he signed. Then I got the t-shirt. The Orioles are the hole in my Byrnes-shirt collection. They are a hole in Byrnesie’s career, so I guess it’s OK I don’t have one. Though for the sake of completeness, I now wish I did. I was caught by surprise when he was non-tendered after they signed Newhan. After all, they both had abysmal, aberrant years, but he ended up with better stats than Newhan. I figured that if they signed Newhan, they would at least offer arbitration to Byrnes. But I think Palozzo wrote him off after 6 weeks, and didn’t want him back.

    I found out the other day that Kenny Lofton has been with 10 teams. Reggie Sanders has been around alot and he has 4 Rings to show for it. So maybe all is not lost, but I would prefer for Byrnesie to find “home.” When he changes teams again, I’m going to have to ask my graphics designer for another design for my Byrnesblog Jersey. Of course, if he ends up with the Giants next, we can just go back to the one I had made when he was with the Orioles, as both teams use orange and black.

    But now I am still thinking about how I am going to dress for the cover art of my poetry book. I was going to wear the D’Back-colored Byrnesblog jersey, which should show up well on camera and the D’Backs cap. I’m pretty sure the D’Backs cap is out, and I am not sure about the shirt now. The photos will be taken by some ruins. How fitting!

    “Even if he’s with the team all year, I’ll be hoping that the DBacks end up in the NL West cellar this year.”

    I’ve moved from rooting for them, to rooting for them only when he’s in the game. At this rate, them losing every game he doesn’t play should land them in the sub-basement.

  6. patromerocal@yahoo.com

    DaVanon went 0-for-5 today. His batting average is coming back down to earth. Do you think there is any chance that Melvin will realize that DaVanon is the 4th outfielder, or do you think he’ll get the Greenie treatment and get to play to bring his average up?

  7. Kellia

    I noticed that and have been wondering. DaVanon isn’t makig $18M this year, so maybe not, if his shoulder really needs rest. But I don’t know. I think we will have a strong indication at the end of the Giants series.

    Eric has a good record against the Giants, and is comfortable in the Giants’ park because of all the exhibition games and interleague play he’s had there. DaVanon supposedly has a weak throwing shoulder and needs rest. Clearly, despite the hitting streak, DaVanon has been cooling off.

    I must say that Melvin’s not putting Byrnes in as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the ninth, given DaVanon’s weak throwing shoulder, is not a good sign for Eric.

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