Tagged: Eric Byrnes 06.08

Hot, Cold, Furious

Sun18_46Hot: Eric Byrnes was gangbusters in the last game against the Dodgers and the first game against the Padres. He got 7 hits, four of which were XBH, including HR 20. He got 5 RBI. We were hoping this was the start of another hot streak.

IcesignCold: Eric Byrnes struck out in his last PA in the first game against the Padres and 5 times in the next two games. He was as cold in his last two games as he was hot in the two before that. We note, however, that the Padres pitching in the last two games was stellar and that the entire D’Back offense was kept in check. (Chad Tracy also K’d 5 times in the last two games, and Chris Young’s RBI yesterday, the only D’Backs run of the game, came on a groundout).

The move to bring Meredith in, just as Byrnes was coming to the plate with runners on first and second in the sixth inning, was brilliant managing on the part of Padre skipper Bruce Bochy. Not only did the change deny Byrnesie a third look at Mike Thompson, but Meredith is a sidearmer, so he gave Byrnes some very different angles than Thompson did. We understand why Byrnes struck out in that inning. Meredith, who earned his 10th hold yesterday, has a sick ERA of 0.89.

PanicbuttonStill, we know that part of the picture over the last two games was that anxiousness that takes Byrnes over from time to time, the anxiousness that we saw in the first K of his current spate of K’s (6 in his last 9 PA’s). Up against the great, but more familiar, Trevor Hoffman in the 9th inning, Byrnesie K’d again, swinging and missing at balls. Hoffman was on his game, striking out the side in that inning. But we could see in Byrnes’ body language that he committed to swinging at what became strike 3 even before the ball had fully left Hoffman’s hand. And that ball was even further outside off the plate than strike 2 had been. We have watched enough of Byrnesie’s PA’s to know he knows the strike zone. When he starts swinging wildly at balls, we know he’s gotten anxious.

Obviously, Byrnesie wants to win. He’s the team’s homer leader, he has 33 doubles, there were two runners on base, and anyone who saw the end of this year’s All Star Game knows that Trevor Hoffman can blow a save with the best of them. But we think there was something more at play here than the will to win; we think Byrnesie is trying to prove himself, so that the Diamondbacks will want him as an everyday player next year, even with Chris Young on the scene.  And when Byrnesie tries to prove himself, rather than just be himself, ugly things (like 6 Ks in 9 PAs) happen.

On August 30, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com filed a story that quotes Eric Byrnes saying that he would like to be a Diamondback in 2007. This is in accord with things he has said on KNBR sports talk radio in San Francisco. 

RoadcapIf Eric wants to be a Diamondback next year, DTLFL can support that. We don’t mind getting more use out of our Diamondbacks/Byrnes/22 T-shirt, our authentic D’Backs road cap and our Diamondback-colored Byrnesblog jersey. We want for Byrnesie what he wants for himself. And we know he genuinely likes the D’Backs. But we also know he wants other things, e.g. a multi-year contract and the opportunity to play every day, which are two material expressions of confidence in and respect for him. Will the D’Backs supply these things?

According to Gilbert’s story, AZ GM Josh Byrnes (no relation) wants to have Eric back. But the questions are for how long and in what capacity. And already there is talk of Byrnesie the backup:

AngryFurious: DTLFL was furious to hear one of the AZ broadcasters talk about the possibility of having Byrnes spelling Chris Young in CF next year. So furious, in fact, that we shot off this email to KTAR, which was handling the broadcast:

"I am watching the game from Oakland, CA via MLB TV and I heard one of you suggesting that next year Eric Byrnes could spell Chris Young in CF.

If Chris Young is to be the CF in 2007, one of two things needs to happen to Byrnes, either he is moved to LF after Gonzo’s $10 Million option is not picked up, OR he is traded to a team that needs an everyday CF or LF.

Eric Byrnes needs to play every day. He’s not a part-time bench player and a guy who can hit 20 homers should not be one."

Ebcycle03_2Throughout his career, including this year, Eric Byrnes has been the second choice, a guy a team used because they could not immediately have whom they really wanted. In Oakland, it turned out that the Athletics wanted Mark Kotsay in 2000, the year that Byrnes made his MLB debut. They also wanted Jay Payton sooner than they got him. But he signed with San Diego instead of Oakland. When the A’s were able to sign Kotsay to a three-year extension and Payton became available from the Boston Red Sox, Byrnesie knew he was done in Oakland.

Byrnes_1He was exiled to the Colorado Rockies, the cellar dwellers of the 2005 NL Worst the day after the All-Star Game. Not that they were trying to trade him, said the A’s front office, when the trade was made. Yeah, right. That is why we heard trade rumors (including Byrnesie to the Diamondbacks) throughout the winter following his then-career year of 2004. That is why A’s fans endured the "way not ready for prime time" minor leaguers playing left field through the first awful two months of the A’s 2005 season as the A’s looked for someone to take over when they unloaded Byrnes. When he got to Colorado, he was told to get a hotel room rather than an apartment because they might trade him again before the non-waiver deadline. And sure enough, they sent him to Baltimore after 15 games.

Diving_bvas081505jpgByrnes had high hopes for what might happen in Baltimore. When he was traded, Orioles manager Lee Mazilli called him and told him that they really wanted him, and that they were looking at him as their left fielder for the 2006 Opening Day. But Mazilli was fired six days later. And Byrnesie found himself on a team heading downhill after suffering pitching problems, a drug scandal, and questions about the heart of the de facto team leader, Miguel Tejada. Sound familiar? (especially if you have been reading what Diamondhacks has been saying about D’Backs Crown Prince Chad Tracy lately). Unsure of the situation, he stayed in a hotel, living out of a suitcase, the rest of the season. Any wonder he had a bad year?

Ebhi5tom_hoodap8276Now Byrnes would like to stay put, and be the everyday player he knows he can be. But for Byrnes to be an everyday player with the Diamondbacks in 2007, assuming Chris Young is the CF and Carlos Quentin is the RF (sharing with switch–hitter Jeff DaVanon, if the latter fully recovers from surgery to repair a split ankle tendon suffered on August 5), the D’Backs are going to have to let go of LF Luis Gonzalez. Byrnes has a lot of experience in left field and is willing to go back there.

For most of the year, the D’Backs have been expected to not pick up Gonzo’s $10 million option. But they may change their minds. Like the recently traded Shawn Green, Gonzo’s best homer-hitting days are behind him. But he’s now leading the National League in doubles, and he’s leading the team in runs scored. His batting average is respectable again and he’s one of the 6 D’Backs (as is Byrnes), with 60 or more RBI. Gonzo can still cover ground in left. And he’s still popular with the fans, a fixture in the community through years of charity work.

Housefly_40If, indeed, Gonzo stays on, Byrnesie will end up relegated to the bench, a part-timer behind Young and possibly Quentin, and even possibly DaVanon because he’s right-handed and DaVanon is a switch-hitter who hits better left-handed. (Regular readers of this blog have seen us complain about BoMel’s obsession with lefty-righty percentages all season). We also know that the D’Backs have Scott Hairston in the minors and they haven’t had the chance to evaluate him because he got injured in his major league debut. He plays LF. We’ve been hearing about "the prospects" and the strength of the AZ minor league system all year.

And we know, through the example of Tony Clark, that a player can have a great year and be relegated to part-time status the next year despite it. In Clark’s case, he was a older player ready to become a part-timer, and his 2006 season, which has been more abysmal than Byrnes’ 2005, may have been hampered by the shoulder injury that eventually put him on the DL for three dozen games. Byrnes is not in the same situation. He’s younger and injury-free.

But that doesn’t mean the D’Backs won’t settle on a Gonzo/Young/Quentin & DaVanon outfield, or a Hairston/Young/Quentin & DaVanon outfield, leaving one of this year’s team offensive leaders on the bench. It would be a "have your cake and eat it, too" scenario for the D’Backs, who would be playing their prospects, keeping a lefty in the outfield via keeping Gonzo and/or the switching hitting DaVanon (or another lefty/switch if DaVanon can’t rehab effectively), and having Eric "Pop in His Bat" Byrnes on the bench. Except that Byrnes is not a great pinch hitter, and if his production falls off from lack of playing time in such a situation, other teams that might have been willing to trade for him this off-season will be mistakenly exhaling in relief that they didn’t take a flyer on Byrnes, who will be 31 next season. They will figure he peaked in ’06 and is now over the hill. Nothing could be further from the truth for this high-energy guy who has never been on the DL and who can do no better than appear in as many games as he did in 2004 (143) but we doubt he will.

We actually are impressed with what we have seen of Chris Young. We understand why the D’Backs want him in CF. And we get the idea behind the marriage of convenience that Byrnes and the Diamondbacks made last December. Byrnes needed a place to prove that 2005 was an aberration. The D’Backs needed someone to hold down CF while Chris Young got a bit more experience in Triple A. They were not expecting to get all that they have gotten from Byrnesie this year. They were not expecting that he would be the team’s leader in homers–they were probably figuring on Tracy for that–and stolen bases (both absolute number and success rate)–they were probably figuring on Counsell or Hudson for that. Yes, they got more than they planned for from Byrnes. Now what do they do?

HourglassWe think that it’s high time for a team to commit to Eric Byrnes as a starter for several years,as a first choice, rather than as a placeholder, or as a part-timer. Time has come for Byrnes to find a home with a team willing to give him a multi-year contract; we think a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year would be fair. Time has come for a team to tell him, even before spring training, that they want him to START 145-150 games in CF or LF.

We think Byrnes has turned in a good year, but would perform even better if he didn’t have to think he was fighting for his job every day. Time has come for him not to feel someone breathing down his neck for a while. Time has come for a manager to have full confidence in him. Time has come for him to have a regular place in the lineup. (We’ve seen him start everywhere except third and ninth this year, and since he has pinch-hit for some pitchers, he has, in effect, batted ninth). It’s time for him to have a well-defined role in the offense. (We like him in the heart of the order).

Time has come for Byrnes to know that if he slumps, as all players do, he’ll get the opportunity to work it out at the plate. The Diamondbacks let Shawn Green take three weeks to get going. Gonzo and Orlando Hudson took months to warm up at the plate. We can’t help but feel that if Byrnes had had the .137 lifetime average that Gonzo had against Woody Williams, we would not have seen him in the lineup the other day. Time has come for Byrnesie to be treated with the respect due to someone who is going into the last month of the season as the team’s leader in homers and stolen bases. Will the D’Backs do right by Byrnes or will they assume that he has peaked, that they got lucky to get more out of him than they expected when they signed him, and relegate him to backup duty? (Again, we think that’s an ill-fitting role, given his record as a pinch hitter).

DTLFL wants to see Byrnes with a team that will accord him the same respect the Padres give their CF Mike Cameron, a player 3 years older than Byrnes, and whose 2005 season prematurely ended with a horrible injury. He has 19 HR to Byrnesie’s 20, 20 Stolen Bases to Byrnesie’s 18, a .265 Batting average to Byrnesie’s .278, in other words, statistically they are similar. But Cameron has something Byrnes does not have: the sense that he is an integral part of who the Padres are, and they are going to keep him, whereas the D’Backs are not quite sure what to do with Byrnes.

If the D’Backs decide to keep Gonzo and start Young and Quentin in 2007, the best thing they could do, for Byrnesie and for themselves, is to trade him to a team that really needs him as an everyday player, preferably getting in return the pitching they need to get deep into the playoffs.

OmAs for the last month of the season, breathe deeply, Byrnesie, be patient at the plate, and be yourself rather than trying to prove yourself. There are still some milestones for you to achieve this year, provided you get the chance and are not benched because management needs to "evaluate prospects."

First_aid_1 We are sorry to know that Aaron Rowand, CF of the Phillies, is out for the remainder of the year with a broken ankle, and that Padres pitcher Chan Ho Park is suffering from a rare disease called Merkel’s Diverticulum that has caused intestinal bleeding. He is also lost for the year, but we hope the recent surgery he had has corrected the problem. We are keeping fingers, toes and eyes crossed that the heart palpitations of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz are related to stress and dehydration and nothing worse, and that the enlarged lymph nodes of his pitching teammate Jon Lester are an infection and not cancer. We would also like to see Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano get away from the injury cycle that has keep him off the field for several years now. The latest problem is broken ribs from a recent car accident. Again we wish good luck to D’Backs’ No. 4 outfielder Jeff DaVanon on surgery and rehabilitation to heal the split tendon he suffered on August 5. We know we don’t have a comprehensive list here, but we wish EVERY player a speedy recovery from injury or illness, whether or not the medical problem has landed them on the DL.

On the positive side of the medical ledger, Mariners’ reliever Rafael Soriano has been released from the hospital after taking a line drive to the head. Minnesota’s young star pitcher Francisco Liriano has been throwing on the side and may join the Twins bullpen, and the D’Backs have shortstop Craig Counsell and reserve 1B Tony Clark back after they each missed 3 dozen games on the DL. Congrats and good luck to all players coming back from illness or injury.

Note_39Although the Boston Red Sox have grown on us since 2004, and although the A’s have been annoying us ever since they announced at the beginning of 2003 that they would not make an offer in 2004 to retain 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada, we still like Barry Zito and are pleased he beat the BoSox yesterday. In a sport that practically deifies pitchers who throw north of 95 MPH, Barry Z. gets his job done with a nasty curveball.

Readers of DTLFL will be relieved to hear that we have to not run on so long for a few days to prepare for special programming on KPFA on Monday. (A brief announcement on that will appear later). The D’Backs are in the nation’s capital for the weekend, and needless to say we are hoping Eric Byrnes will stay in the heart of the lineup and do great things. Homer 21 and stolen bases 19 and 20 would be nice.

Kéllia "Do right by Byrnesie, D’Backs!" Ramares
Oakland, CA

To Eric Byrnes: The Key to Getting Even Better

Hey, Byrnesie!

CONGRATULATIONS! 4-5 with 4 RBI from the clean-up spot last night. Homer No. 20! (And I watched it all, so that definitely ends any concerns I had about being a jinx). You made the difference. The final score was 7-4, so your team would not have won with just Webb’s and Estrada’s RBI.

You swung the bat very well. Nice level swings that show that your timing has come back. Not the swinging under the ball or the early uppercuts that have resulted in so many pop-ups of late. In fact you are now 7-10 with 4 XBH and 5 RBI. Your BA is back up to .280 and your SLG is back over .500. I hope these two days are just the beginning of another big, fat, hot streak like May. You BELONG in the heart of the order and I hope you stay there the rest of the year. The stolen bases are nice, and I hope you get to 20 so that you can be 20/20. But I consider your speed a fringe benefit on offense. You’ve got what it takes physically to be one of the RBI guys. You are developing your clutch abilities. You are much better now at driving in 2-out RISP than you were early in the season. But you left one out there last night, and indeed, it is that last AB that holds the key to your getting even better as a slugger.

Byrnesie, you have to develop the attitude that it’s OK to walk. You struck out that last AB because you were too anxious to get another hit. You swung and missed at two balls and looked terrible doing it.

I know how much you wanted the triple for the cycle, especially since Quentin and Roberts had already hit triples.  With Hudson on second, a double or a well-placed single would have made you 5-5 with 5 RBI, matching your career best for a single day.  Another homer and you would have had 5-5 with 6 RBI and HR 21, which would have been a new personal best for RBIs in one day and HRs in one season. Your key to possibly getting that 5th hit was to be willing to walk.

And in this situation, a walk would have been very good. It would have given you a perfect day at the plate; the great hitters generally have a few of those a year. A walk would have meant no decrease in your BA, an increase in your OBP, and a chance for you to score another run, if another teammate could drive you in. It would also have been good for your K/BB ratio. Your next walk will be No. 32 on the year, which exceeds the 31 you got in abysmal, aberrant 2005.

But beyond the benefits of an actual walk in that particular situation, there is the fact that developing more of a willingness to walk puts added pressure on the pitcher. The Padres did not want to walk you so badly as to give you an IBB. Estrada was behind you; he had already hit a homer and he has a reputation of being the D’Backs’ Mr. Clutch. He’s the last .300 hitter among the D’Back regulars. (May you change that by the time the season is over!) But they knew you were hot so they didn’t really want to give you anything good to hit. So they counted on your "ability" to beat yourself when you try too hard. And their reliance on this weakness in the mental aspect of your game served them well this time.

We know how important it is for pitchers to establish that 0-1 count. If you had incorporated into your mindset a greater willingness to walk, you would have laid off that first pitch. Instead, you swung badly at it, and then, in the blink of an eye, you were 0-2, on defense the rest of the AB.

Be patient. Establish a reputation with pitchers and umpires of being willing to walk and you will force more hitter’s counts. And then everyone will know what you and the people who have never given up on you have known all along.

Kéllia "74 RBI are not that far away when you can pick them up 3 and 4 per game" Ramares
Oakland, CA

True Elation 18! Byrnes, Webb lead D’Backs to Victory over Padres 7-4

Sun18_45Tonight we saw a Brandon Webb who looked a lot like the Brandon Webb who started the season 8-0. He got 17 ground balls, inducing 4 double plays, en route to his NL leading 14th victory. (We saw the Counsell-Hudson DP combo that looked the one from early in the season, too). Webb also helped his own cause at the plate by banging out a double that drove in the first two D’Back runs of the game. He definitely looked like he knew which end of the bat was which on that one, and now has 9 hits AND 9 RBI. That’s making ’em count.

Ebhr5306_12It was a very special night for Eric Byrnes, batting clean-up. He had a slugger’s night, going 4-5 with 4 RBI. He hit a single, homer No. 20, and doubles no. 32 and 33. He is now 7 for his last 10 AB’s, and four of the 7 hits are XBH. Three doubles and that homer. He now has 60 RBI and 67 R.

The next homer sets a new personal best in that category, and if he can stay hot, he has a chance to set several other new personal bests.  He needs 7 more doubles and 14 more RBI, 25 more R and 46 more TB. Since he got off to a wonderful start this week, I am hoping he stays that way all week. He has been knocking on the door of NL Player of the Week, having been nominated twice. It would be great if third time could be the charm now because it would help the D’Backs playoff chances if they could reel off a bunch of consecutive wins. 

Housefly_39Emotions got the best of Byrnes during his last time up in the 8th. He should have walked. Instead he K’d for the third out, leaving Orlando Hudson at 2nd. He swung and missed at the first pitch he saw. It would have been ball 1 if he had taken it. It was outside. Likewise, the pitch he swung at and missed for strike 3 would have been ball 4 if he had left it alone.

But he had hit on his mind. A triple would have given him the cycle for the second time in his career. He’s flirted with it several times this year. Any hit to the outfield likely would have scored the speedy Hudson from second, giving Byrnesie the second 5-5 and 5 RBI night of his career. Another homer would have meant his career night in RBI (6), and homers for the year (21). And any hit would have meant perfect night. A walk would also have meant a perfect night at the plate and he would have surpassed his walk total for A,A’05. But I guess that paled by comparison to the thought of a triple for the cycle, especially since teammate Carlos Quentin and opponent Dave Roberts had tripled. A triple would also have been his 4th of the year, exceeding the three he had last year.

The last time he tried to get a triple with the cycle on his mind, he was caught trying to stretch a double in June in Pittsburgh and it seemed that the air went out of him for the rest of the day. (He also missed one of his signature diving catches that day). Let’s hope that doesn’t happen now because he ended this otherwise superb night with a K. On the offensive side of the board, he was the reason his team won tonight. And with 4-5 and 4 RBI, he needs to be given more opportunities to show he is the answer to the D’Backs dearth of run production from the cleanup spot this year.

The only times Byrnes himself scored was when he batted himself in with the homer. The other three times he was stranded. The D’Backs did not need those runs this time, but they really have to get better at batting Byrnesie in. Given that the rest of the pitching staff are not a bunch of Cy Young candidates like Brandon Webb, the D’Backs can ill afford to strand baserunners. And if Byrnesie is going to set a new personal best for runs scored, he needs help from his teammates.

Note_38Johnny Estrada went back to back with Byrnesie on homers in the 3rd inning.

In the top of the 9th, Luis Gonzalez was taken out; Byrnes was moved to LF and Chris Young was put in at CF. Carlos Quentin played the entire game in RF. Was this a preview of the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield alignment for 2007?

BTW: True Elation 17, about which I did not write as I am doing some work projects, was yesterday’s 3-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R in a losing cause. The RBI came on a 2-out-9th-inning double. It was a clutch situation that brought up Orlando Hudson as the potential tying run. But O-Dawg struck out. A reverse of today when Byrnesie struck out during the D’Backs’ last ups with Hudson on second. Only the Snakes won tonight.

The season is over for Jeff DaVanon, who didn’t just sprain an ankle on August 5, he split a tendon. He will have surgery and hopes to be ready for Spring Training. Good Luck, Jeff.

In the American League, "King" Felix Hernandez, the fireballing 20-year-old of the Seattle Mariners, pitched royally, allowing only 5 hits in his first complete-game, career shut out. He threw just 95 pitches in a 2-0 victory over the Angels. Kelvim Escobar of the Angels also pitched a complete game, striking out 9 in a losing effort.

In a very sad piece of off-field news, Brandon Webb had to be pitching with a heavy heart, knowing that his U. of K. teammate Jon Hooker and his brand new bride, Scarlett Parsley, were among the 49 killed in the airplane crash in Kentucky. Hooker and Parsley had been married the night before and were on their way to their honeymoon when the crash occurred. Another U of K teammate, Andy Green, has left the Tuscon Sidewinders to attend services for the couple.



Eric Byrnes just hit HR No. 20. a line drive into the third row of seats in left field.

That ties his personal best set in 2004.

He had an infield single his first time up, so we are already at True Elation (18) True Elation 17 was last night, when he went 3-5 with 1 RBI (and 1 R).

Byrnesie did this off the right-handed Woody Williams, out of the cleanup spot, which has been the worst performing cleanup hole in the league this year.

And to make it even nicer, Johonny Estrada hit one to right  to go back to back with Byrnesie.

The score is now 4-1. Brandon Webb having hit a double to drive in two runs.

One more HR. by Byrnesie sets a new personal best for him. He now needs only two more stolen bases this season to be a 20/20 guy.

Yea! Byrnesie! If he’s not batting cleanup tomorrow, Melvin’s head needs to be examined.

Remember that he doubled in the 9th last night. So that’s 3 consecutive hits, two for XBH. Those XBH’s are more like the Byrnesie we know and love.



I could scarcely believe my eyes and had to count twice to make sure. But indeed, there he is, No. 4 against the San Diego Padres tonight.

It’s Counsell, Hudson, Gonzalez, Byrnes, Estrada, Jackson, Tracy, Quentin and Webb.

DTLFL has been arguing for an Estrada-Byrnes 4-5 lineup for months, but there is sense to making it the other way around these days. We noticed yesterday, and we noticed in San Francisco, and we’ve actually noticed from time to time throughout the year, that Byrnesie loses RBIs by virtue of having plodders, usually pitchers and catchers, on base ahead of him. This happened yesterday when Byrnesie hit a two-out, 9th-inning double with runners on first and second. The runner on second scored. The runner on first, catcher Chris Snyder, was held at third.

We saw something similar in San Francisco on August 22nd, when Johnny Estrada was hitting like a man possessed. He’s the last of the D’Back regulars still over .300. Fine catcher. Clutch hitter. But slow on the basepaths and everyone knows it. Estrada, batting 5th, hit a double. Byrnesie, in the 6-hole following the trade earlier that day of the usual 6-hitter, Shawn Green, hit a fly ball to deep left-center, not all that far from where I was sitting. Estrada tagged up. But Giants’ CF Steve Finley made a strong throw to the shortstop and Estrada wisely retreated to second. A faster runner could have made it to third.

Tonight, Byrnesie has Couns, O-Dawg and Gonzo ahead of him, and they are all fast. (Yes, even at 38, Gonzo can run). So if they can get on and Byrnesie can come through, the merry-go-round will spin.

The only concern I have here is that Byrnesie might try too hard in his effort to prove that he should be in the heart of the lineup. If that happens, I hope manager Bob Melvin is not quick to send him back to the one or two hole. Byrnesie needs to be given the slugger’s role he has earned with 19 HRS and 31 2-baggers and also given a chance to grow into that role. There isn’t a whole lot left to the season, so if he is to help the team make the playoffs as a slugger, he has to grow fast. But not so fast that a mediocre or worse showing tonight, especially if the San Diego pitcher is lights out, will change Melvin’s mind about having Byrnesie in the heart of the lineup. That’s really where he belongs. Yes, he’s the team’s stolen base leader, but the Diamondbacks are not really a running team and his now personal-best 18 SBs is nowhere near the league leaders. Call his speed a fringe benefit–though, indeed, I want to see him be a 20/20 man this year–it’s time for him to develop as the RBI guy the pop in his bat suggests he should be. 

But let’s hope that the pitcher who is lights out tonight is Brandon Webb. He really did not pitch badly in S.F. Two unearned runs early made things look worse than they were.

The D’Backs go up tonight against the 40-year-old right-hander, Woody Williams. Remember what I have said before. Byrnes’ average is much better against lefties than against righties, but his power numbers are against the right handers.

This would be a great night for No. 20.

I’ll  have my statshot sidebar updated before I turn in for the night.

Kéllia "Clean ’em up, Byrnesie" Ramares
Oakland, CA

Welcome to the “I-Wanna-See-Byrnesie-Hit-No.-20-While-The-D’Backs-Beat-L.A.- Liveblog

It’s the L.A. Dodgers, currently leading in the NL West, versus the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle game of a three-game series at Chase Field In Phoenix.

A few words about this liveblog:

1) MSIE has been cranky lately, and already threw me out of the Mets game once. So If I miss something, it’s because that has happened again.

2) I am not a fast typist and in fact have a slight impairment of the right hand that mean I make typos with that hand more. So I apologize in advance for typos and will correct them tomorrow.

3) I will save after each half inning. I tend to me more of a play-by-play blogger than a color blogger.

4) I’m not a geek, so I might not be able to spend too much time in the comments section, but please comment to each other.

The D’Backs won the first game 9-7 in 15 innings thanks to a walk-off 2 run homer by Orlando Hudson. Tonight, it is right-hander Miguel Batista (10-5 4.52) against right hander Derek Lowe (11-8 3.84).

The Mets have just beaten the Phillies 11-5 (YEAH!) The Mets had a 7-run 7th, featuring a two-run double by former Dodger and D’Back Shawn Green. Both Carlos also homered for the Mets! For Beltran it was number 200 of his career.

Eric Byrnes, who is 8-12 lifetime v. Lowe is leading off and playing RF. Young is in CF and Counsell is back as SS.

6:40 Furcal is leading off for LA. He ground out to Batista. BTW, Tony Clark is playing 1B for the Snakes.

6:42 Lofton is up, he’s playing CF for LA. Counsell to Clark is out No. 2.

6:43 Nomar is up. He pops up to Byrnes in shallow right. This is a great start for the D’Backs,  who’s p;itchers are infamous for giving up runs in the first.

Byrnesie, who stole a personal best 18th base last night, leads off.

6:47 C’mon Byrnesie…My heart is pounding. First pitch is a strike.*****! He popped up to the pitcher. Too much early uppercut. Maybe he;s too anxious to get that No. 20. I don’t think he was swinging well when I saw him in S.F.

6:47 O-Dawg batting second. Ethier tried the sliding catch on a blooper but dropped the ball. A single for Hudson!

6:50 Gonzo up. He’s got 45 doubles. But he’s just hit into a 1-4-3 DP. Catching Rogers Hornsby on the all-time 2B list will have to wait for another AB.

Hi To Kaylee. Lowe has to lose. He pitched game 5 of the 2003 ALDS in Oakland. I was there. GRRR!

6:53 J.D. Drew is  up. He’s playing RF. Drew singles to Right Center. The ball is cut off by Byrnesie and returned to the infield.

6:54 Jeff Kent the 2B is up. Oh, he fouled one off and Miguel was lucky it wasn’t fair. It would have been two. Caught too much of the plate. Kent flies to center. Young makes a two-handed catch. I lilke two handed catches, but then, I’m old fashioned that way.

6:56 Andre Ethier is up. He’s playing LF. Hudson to Counsell to Clark. DP!

6:59 Chad Tracy is up. He gets an infield hit on a high hopper Lowe couldn’t get. Today is Chad’s bobblehead night.

7:00 Estrada the catcher up. He’s the only D’Back regular still batting over .300. And he hits into a 5-4-3 DP.

7:01 Clark up. He’s at 1B tonight. He grounds out to 3rd. He PH’d last night. This is is his first start since coming off the DL.

7:05 Wilson Betemit, the LA 3B, starts the inning with a double to center.

7:05 Russell Martin, who caught all of the 15 innings for LA last night is up. The Giants won tonight. Will Bronson Arroyo ever win another game? Mike, you know I am also rooting for the Mets, so I was glad Green got that hit… Martin walks

7:08 Pitcher Lowe is up. But I think the D’Backs did not get anything back for Green that could hellp them now and that tells me that they aren’t really serious about winning this year. They are looking to 2007 and their young prospects. They did a salary dump. Expect that Gonzo will not be kept and that maybe Byrnesie will be traded. Depends on that later one. They might want the one vet in the outfield.

7:10 YES. Lowe Bunted and Batista threw to thrid to get the lead runner. (Yes, Tracy did NOT make an error).

7:10 Furcal up with catcher at 2B and Lowe at 1B. Tracy took a chopper behind the mound and got the out at first. Runners move up to 3B and 2B.

7:11 Lofton up, two outs, but Tracy is up on the grass at 3B. Lofton is hitting .408 in August. I look forward to the day we can do this like an IM so that the typing is immediately seen. 2-2 on Lofton. The D’back are wearing the basic home whites. and the Dodgers are wearing the basic road greys. ACK. Lofton walks!

7:15. Bases loaded. Two Out. Nomar up. First pitch was almost wild. Estrada made a good backhand stop. Ball Two. Ball Three. Puhleeze don’t walk hoem a run. Nomar takes. Strike One. Strike two. Fouled off the 3-2 pitch. Opposite field single brings in two runs for LA. GRRR! But Nomar was smart to take the pitch to the opposite field. Certain stubborn guys try to pull.

7:19 Drew up. runners at 1 and 3. still two out. 2-0 to Drew. matt Williams is saying that Batista doesn’t look comfortable from the stretch. Fine. Then he should abandon the stretch and go back to throwing strikes. Drew 1-3.

2-0 L.A.

Dodgers up.

7:22 Counsell leads off the inning. He’s batting 7th. He bounces to the pitcher.

7:23 Young is up. They’re talking about how Couns will now play various infield positions because Stephen drew, called up when Couns was injured, has done so well. He just fouled off a pitch that looked outside. 2-2. He’s fouling a bunch off Lowe. WOW! Furcal stopped the pitch, but was sprawled all over and couldn’t make a play. Young has an infield hit.

7:27 Batista shows bunt. He finally gets one down 1-4. Young to second.

7:28. C’Mon Byrnesie. RISP with 2 out. Clutch time. PUHLEEZE!!! Takes a strike. Ball. Byrnesie is batting .327 with 2 oout RISP. Count is 2-1. Fouled an outside pitch. 2-2 . The root rattles are going. RATS Byrnesie flies to center. GRRRR!

Hi to Arielle

7:33 Clark to Batista gets Jeff Kent out.

7:34 Ethier up. And hits a double off the left field wall. Why again did the A’s trade this guy???

7:35 The announcers are interviewing an AZ Lottery guy. Betemit is up. Hudso to Clark gets him. But now the Dodgers have a runner at 3rd.

7:37 IBB to the 8 hitter Martin to bring up Lowe with two out. Counsell throws to Hudson but it’s not in time the runner is safe and the run scores.

7:38 3-0 Dodgers. Furcal up. Runners on 1st and 2nd. Yak, Yak Yak about the Lottery. Snooze. No interruptions of the talk to give the count. Chopper to Clark thrown to Batista gets Furcal out.

3-0 Dodgers.

Still 2-0 LA.

7:43 Hudson hits a double! He’s 2-2 after going 4-4 last night!

7:44 Gonzo up. Now would be a good time for a double, Gonzo. ACK. Gonzo hit a fly to the CF warning track. But Hudson was too far away to tag up. Baserunning mistake by Hudson. That deep fly should have moved Hudson to third. Hudson tried to make up for it by attempting a steal of third, but he’s out on a perfect throw by Martin to Betemit. $*#@&!$^@$!!

7:47 Tracy up and upended by a pitch. Tracy hit a line drive off Lowe. OUCH. Caught him on the glove hand and Low gets pulled immediately. Joe Biemel is coming in.

7:55 Estrada up. MSIE is givng me a hassle, but I am going to see if I can hang in through the inning. Two out. Runner on 1st. Estrada gets a single to the right side. Shoot! If O-Dawg had stayed put, the D’Backs would have a run by now.

7:57 Clark up. Like Estrada he’s a switch and they are now righties against the lefty Biemel. Clark singles to center. RBI Clark, Estrada to 3b as the throw goes into 2nd.

7:59 Counsell up. Martin makes a great block. Takes Called Strike Three. two LOB.

8:03 Top of the 5th. LA 3 AZ 1. Lofton pops up to Young in CF.

8:04 Npmar up. Hits long foul to left. Then he pops to short.

8:06 Drew up. Pops out to Young in shallow center. The D’Backs pitching  held after the offense scored. AWWRIGHT!

8:09 Young tries to bunt for a hit but it’s foul. Strike One. He’s a 6-3.

8:10 Batista up. Batista down swinging.

8:12 C’Mon Byrnesie!!!! Takes a ball. He’s a 6-3. HMMM. This is the kind of thing that makes me think I shouldn’t watch Byrnes in real time. He was 0-for me watching him against the Giants live and when the TV accidently let me watch his first 3 ABs in the thrid game instead of blacking me out. Now he’s 0-3. He got two hits yesterday and SB No. 18 when  i could not watch.

8:15. Kent 6-3. Att. 40,358.

8:16 Ethier up. Top of the 6th. LA 3, AZ 1. He K’s on a foul tip. Miggy’s first K of the night.

8:17 Betemit swngs and misses at strike one and walks around. The next pitch goes to the back stop. He fouls the next pitch. and HE strikes out swinging.

Hamalack, a lefty called up from AAA, started the bottom of the 6th for the Dodgers.

8:21 Hudson is a swinging K.

8:22 Gonzo grounds out 4-3

8:24 Tracy is a called K.

I had to bail from the balky browser.

8:27 Martin out 6-3

8:28 Hudson makes diving stop to his right that robs PH Julio Lugo of a hit. 4-3

8:29 Furcal takes a ball. Fan catches pop foul ball with his hat. Counsell gets Furcal. Batista has retired the last 7 in a row.

Still 3 -1 LA, however,

8:34 Brett Tomko, formerly with the Giants, is now in for the Dodgers. He’s a righty so Estrada is back to batting lefty. YES. Estrada gets a double. I think he wold be a little faster if he did not spend so much time watching what the outfielder doing .

8:36. Estrada tags and goes to third on a deep fly by Clark to right.

8:37 Counsell up. Too Bad Clark did not HR. It looked for a second as if it would go out. C’Mon Couns! Gotta Get this run in! Estrada tags and scores on Sac Fly by Counsell!!!! 3- 2 LA.

8:39 Chris Young up. Now would be a nice time for Young to hit MLB HR No. 2. Tomko just threw 96 MPH. Young fouled it and poped foul to the catcher on the next pitch.

8:43 Batista out for inning No. 8. He walks Lofton.

8:44 Nomar up. Vizcaino up in D’Back Bullpen. Batista trying to hold Lofton at first. Nomar shows bunt the first time. But not the second time. Yes! Estrada nails Lofton trying to steal second. Tried to avoid tag and that is how he was tagged out. 2-4. Argument ensues. But no one is ejected. Lofton would have made it if he had gone in with the lead hand instead of trying to avoid the tag.

Count is 2-2 on Nomar. Tracy gets the Nomar grounder. Out 5-3.

8:49 Drew up. Drew fouls one off his foot. OUCH. Crowd again chanting Beat LA. that’s the 4th time. This time with the assistance of organ chords. Byrnes takes the looper to right.

3-2 LA going into the bottom of the 8th.

8:53 Drew PH for Batista. MSIE is having problems again, even though I did nto hear anything that would indicate that. Drew singles up the middle

8:54 C’Mon Byrnesie!!!  Now is the time for HR No. 20. The announcers are talking about him bunting. But he’s not a good bunter. Showing bunt. Looks at ball 1.

Oh, he layed down th e bunt but Nomar did in fact think about throwing to second.

8:56 Hudson batting lefty. 6 lefties up and no lefties left in the LA bull pen. Hudson hits a single up the middle. Drew scores. The game is tied. Hudson is 3-3!

Crowd shouting Beat LA.

8:59 Gonzo up. He’s .455 with 3 HR v Tomko. This time he walks. 2 on, 1 out.

9:01 Tracy up. Honeycutt, the pitching coach, visits the mound.

9:02 Hudson reps the go-ahead run. Gonzo the insurance. One out. (The Sac Bunt) bottom of the 8th. 2-1 count. Tracy fouls it off. Count even. Full Count. Rooter rattles going. Tracy fouls it again. Estrada on deck. Tracy is a swinging K. That’s two tonight! It was a ball.

9:06 Dodger pitching change. Jonathan Broxton is in.

9:08 Estrada up. The D’Backs Mr. Clutch. ACK,. He lines out to short!

3-3 going to the top of the 9th.

Vizcaino in. PUHLEEZE, No Runs.

9:12  Kent leads off 9th. He’s .125 v. Vizcaino. Padres and Giants won. Rockies lost to Pads. Giants playing out of division with Reds. Full Count to Kent. Kent homers. Thanks for nothing. 4-3 L.A. :+( Matt WIlliams predicted that he would not miss a fastball. He didn’t miss that one.

9:15. Ethier out 4-3.

9:16 Betemit up. There’s a big shift to right, a la Ortiz and Bonds. Out to the shifted over Counsell. 6-3.

9:17 Martin up. Martin K’s

Clark, Counsell and Young due up.

9:22 Saito in. Clark out via pop to third.

9:24 Counsell grounds out.

9:25 Young up. Out 6-3. Broxton wins. Vizcaino loses. Saito gets the save.

AZ bullpen gives it up again.


Snakes Walk(off) the O-Dawg: D’Backs 9 – Dodgers 7 in  15

The Diamondbacks got Orlando "O-Dawg" Hudson primarily for his glove–he won the Gold Glove as the Toronto Blue Jays’ second baseman last year–and his energy. He’s said to talk even more than Eric Byrnes, and that’s going some.

Sun18_43But, after a slow first half of the season at the plate, the guy teammates dubbed "O-Dawg" because he barks in the clubhouse, has remembered which end of the bat is which. His 12th homer of the year was a two-run blast to CF in the bottom of the 15th, which gave Arizona its 2nd extra inning victory in 10 days. More importantly, it shaved a game off the division lead of the Dodgers, who are now ahead of the Snakes by only 3 games. WOOF!

O-Dawg went 4-6 (including 2 doubles) with 2 BB, 3 RBI and 2 R. WOOF-WOOF!

Other highlights included Conor Jackson going 4-6 with 2 BB, 2 RBI and 1 R.

Luis Gonzalez hit two doubles to put him at 540 for his career. Gonzo went 3-6 with 2 BB an RBI and a run.

Housefly_38It was a comparatively mediocre night for Eric Byrnes. He got 2 singles in 9 ABs with no RBI. His slugging percentage has fallen below .500.

Sun18_44But he scored twice and something very special did happen: Byrnesie got stolen base No. 18 (off the Dodger battery of Maddux and Martin).


Byrnesie needs two more homers for a new personal best in that category; one more would be his 20th. He needs one more BB and 1 triple to exceed his A,A’05. And he needs more doubles just because…

Byrnes has flirted with the cycle 3 times this year. Tonight would be a nice night to actually do it. He is lifetime 8-12 against Dodger starter Derek Lowe. So cycle or not, DTLFL looks forward to Byrnesie having a great night tonight.

Note_37Congrats to Chris Young of the Diamondbacks for his first career homer off the Giants on Wednesday, and to Barry Zito of the Oakland A’s for his 100th career win, at the expense of the Texas Rangers.

Kéllia "Beat L.A." Ramares
Oakland, CA

Thanks For Nothing!

Arizona’s recently concluded three-game series with the Giants at "Whatever They’re Calling It This Year" Park in San Francisco was especially tough on Eric Byrnes. The Bay Area native was no doubt playing in front of family and friends, which is fun, but also ups the pressure. You want to do especially well when loved ones are in the stands. But in the first game, Giants’ starter Noah Lowry was lights out. He pitched a two-hit complete game shutout and the two hits, both singles, were given up to Orlando Hudson, not Byrnes.

Byrnesie went 0-3 in the second game before being lifted as part of a double switch when reliever Jose Valvarde took over for starter Brandon Webb. Byrnes was robbed of an RBI single by Giants’ second baseman Ray Durham. I think reports of Durham’s demise are greatly exaggerated; he played the role of Human Vacuum Cleaner 2 very well during this series. Byrnesie’s grounder did advance Johnny Estrada from second to third, but Estrada was stranded there.  Byrnes’ fly to deep left center did not advance Estrada from second to third because Steve Finley made a strong throw in and the slow-footed Estrada, who had tagged up to advance, wisely decided to return to second.

To rub salt on the wounds, Chris Young, Byrnes’ replacement, and the man the D’Backs project to be their CF next year, made a great catch and hit a double. (The D’Backs lost anyway). And this was the 6th anniversary of Byrnes’ MLB debut. Not exactly a celebratory occasion.

In the third game, Byrnes was 0-3 by the 6th inning, making him 0-10, and 0-series in San Francisco. After the third AB, Byrnes was so frustrated he tossed his batting gloves to fans behind the visitors’ dug out.

Byrnes came up in the 6th inning with the score tied 4-4, the bases loaded and two out. He’s got pop in his bat (19 HRS, 30 Doubles and 3 Triples this year), but this series, he had more pop ups than pop. He has never hit a grand slam and what he’s done lifetime with the bags full would be a fabulous IQ, but it’s a lousy batting average. He’s .186, well below the Mendoza line. He was also 0-for- lifetime (0-10) against Giants’ ace Jason Schimdt, who was 11-0 lifetime against the D’Backs.

Schmidt was quickly ahead when Byrnes fouled off two outside fastballs. And as is typical for a pitcher with an 0-2 count, Schmidt threw one out of the zone. It was a very high fastball, above Byrnes’ shoulders. But it caught a lot of the plate and a lot of Byrnesie’s bat. He drove it into center field for a two-run single. The D’Backs were up 6-4.

Eric Byrnes never gives up!

Unfortunately, it seems that the D’Backs bulllpen almost never fails to give up a lead, (which is why the 18-inning victory was such an eye-rubbing, head-shaking miracle!) The D’Backs lost the game 7-6 when the Giants scored 3 in the bottom of the 7th and Armando Benitez, who came in to boos in the 9th, took this time to remember the meaning of the word "closer," and left to cheers.

Of course, I shouldn’t blame everything on the bullpen. The D’Backs scored a run in their first ups only to watch their starter, Enrique Gonzalez, give up 4 to the Giants in the bottom half of the first. The D’Backs dropped all three to the Giants. And while all you can do it tip your cap when a pitcher does what Lowry did in the first game, there was just no excuse for losing the last two.

In the middle game, the first two Giants runs were unearned. But the D’Backs came back late and tied the score 3-3 in the 8th. But then the D’Backs’ bullpen gave up 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th. Note to D’Backs pitchers: When your team scores runs, that is the signal to shut the other guys down, not the signal to give up runs of your own.

On August 14, Byrnesie hit a 3-run homer in the top of the 8th at Coors, giving the D’Backs a 3-2 lead. The D’Backs’ bullpen promptly let the Rockies tie it up in the bottom of the 8th and win it in the bottom of the 9th.

The trade of Shawn Green brought Arizona no one with whom to shore up the bullpen.

Thanks for nothing!

Kéllia "tired of seeing Byrnesie’s efforts wasted" Ramares
Oakland, CA

Eric Byrnes and Chris Young

…are both playing in the afternoon game against the Giants today. Young is in center field and batting 8th, where manager Bob Melvin likes to start all his newbies. Byrnesie is back to leadoff from last night’s 6th, and is playing right field.

Byrnes can play all three outfield positions, center is his favorite; he’s spent a lot of time in left. Right is the place where he has the least experience. But he’s got more than Young.  Melvin is no doubt wondering what he is going to do in right field, and the 6 hole, in the absence of the traded Shawn Green, at least for this year. (Conor Jackson is batting sixth today). The D’Backs did not get anyone in the Green trade to help them this year.

But DTLFL wonders if this afternoon’s lineup might not be a kind of preview of next year. The D’Backs clearly intended at the beginning of this year for Chris Young to be the CF in 2007. There was no way that they figured on Eric Byrnes emerging as their HR and SB leader. They hold the rights to him for 2007 and if he ends the year still a team offensive leader, but they get rid of him for next to nothing, as they did Shawn Green, they are going to catch holy ****. So they might be looking for some place to put Byrnes. (Not to say that Byrnes won’t be trade bait in the off-season, but they know they have to get something worthwhile in return, and not just a cheap prospect. They have to consider what to do if they can’t get a good deal for Byrnes).

If they hang on to Byrnes for next year, it won’t be to play right field. Figure that they will not pick up Gonzo’s $10 million option, and that they are already thinking of a 2007 outfield of Byrnes in left, Young in center and Quentin in right. What is happening today, besides a day-to-day filling of the vacuum in right left by the Shawn Green trade, is 1) a testing of Young’s readiness for the majors, something one can’t really judge if he is only here to provide Byrnes a few off days down the stretch, and 2) a test of Byrnes’ willingness to play some place other than CF, even though he thinks CF is his best position and he signed on to be the D’Backs every day CF.

Kéllia "Blogging lets you think out loud" Ramares
Oakland, CA

For The First Time Ever…

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.–attributed to Mark Twain.

Let history record that for the first time ever, I left a baseball game early. It was August 22, 2006. I left as the bottom of the sixth inning began, although it took me a whole inning to leave the area. I had promised myself in the first inning that if Eric Byrnes were removed from the game in a double switch, I would a) not be as bothered by it as I have been in the past and b) leave immediately.

The move came in the bottom of the 6th and I packed it in. It was simply much too cold to stay absent the reason I had gone in the first place. I was not quite as cold on August 22 as I was on August 21 (or April 28). I had learned from experience and had brought or worn more layers. But the wind was whipping harder on the 22nd than it did on the 21st and I had all my layers on by the top of the 2nd.

I had sweatpants on under my baggy jeans. I wore my 3/4-length sleeve Byrnesblog jersey over which I put my D’Backs/Byrnes/22 T-Shirt, over which I wore a sweatshirt. Where’s the fun in wearing the Byrnes shirts if I had to cover them up? On the 22nd, I put a thin black shawl on over the sweatshirt. It’s lightweight, but it’s a good windbreaker. I donned batting gloves that I usually wear when I ride my bike. And once again I had on my multicolor kerchief, which serves as a neck scarf, and my authentic D’Backs road cap, which being the same kind as the players wear, does, in fact, keep my head warm. Both nights I also had on substantial socks and shoes. Many of the other people around me were also multlilayered AND wrapped in Giants blankets. More than once, I thought to myself, "One should not need to go to a baseball game in San Francisco, California on August 22, dressed as if one were going to a football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 22."

I am sure that my comfort level was not helped by the fact that the Diamondbacks have lost on all three of my nighttime excursions to the frozen tundra of the ballpark by the bay, and that Byrnes did not play in the first game, went 0-7 in the other two, including hitting into some hard luck, most of it going by the name of Ray Durham, and was pulled in a double switch. But I like to think of myself as enough of a fan of the game in general to appreciate that on the 21st, the Giants’ Noah Lowry pitched a 2-hit, complete game shutout. Readers of this blog know I like complete games. But it was hard to appreciate it when I spent a lot of the latter part of the game wondering how stiff I would be at the end.

One of the Giants’ between-innings promotions is a Delta Dental commercial that asks people to smile for the big screen. A prize is awarded to the person deemed to have the best smile of the night. As people grinned on camera-cue, I asked myself, "Do chattering teeth count?"

On my way home tonight, I resolved not to attend any more night games in San Francisco unless a) Eric Byrnes himself invited me to be there and picked up the tab for the evening, or b) someone recognized my journalistic skills and actually paid me to cover a game there, say, next year’s All-Star Game.

I’m not much into predictions, but this is a safe bet: Whenever it is that Barry Bonds stops playing for the Giants, attendance at night games will plummet.

More tomorrow.

Kéllia Ramares
Now thawing out in Oakland, CA.