(Photo by Lenny Ignelzi/AP)
Bottom of the 9th, D’Backs leading 5-1 and Brandon Lyon gives up back-to-back doubles. With the score 5-2 and it now an official save situation, Bob Melvin brings in Jose Valverde to shut the door, but instead he throws it wide open. The Padres score 3 more runs and take the contest into extra innings.
I find that even 9-inning D’Backs games are exceptionally long. This was their 13th extra-inning game of the year. Fortunately, it was worth the wait.
Eric Byrnes drove in the winning run with an infield single that brought home Jeff DaVanon from third with two out. Byrnesie went 3-5 (hits no. 131-133) and an IBB. I just wish he wouldn’t slide head first into first. One of these days a first baseman will accidentally kick him in the head or spike him in the hand. It’s also slower.
Chad Tracy added insurance runs with a 3-run homer. Tony Pena shut down the Pads in the bottom of the 11th to get the win. Final Score: D’Backs 9 – Pads 5.
The Snakes might not have gotten this far but for a great catch in the 5th inning by Chris Young that deprived Mike Cameron of a grand slam. I liked the description by the San Diego announcer: "Cameron went for a salami, but Chris Young closed the deli."
The Diamondbacks are in first place, a game up on LA. That’s where they go after tomorrow’s game with SD. Byrnesie is particularly good against LA. <grin>
(photo by Paul Connors/AP)
and it ended in an unspeakably bad way.
But Eric Byrnes hit a triple his first time up. (He only had 2 plate appearances). It was hit No. 130.
70 more to go. 55 games left. Let’s hope there aren’t any more disasters like today’s. EB needs all the plate appearances he would normally have, if he is to have a shot at 200.
C’Mon, Byrnesie, you need some more 3-hit games. (And some more homers).
(Photo by Rick Scuteri/AP)
"There’s nothing better than a walk-off — just the energy and the
excitement it brings to the clubhouse — it’s indescribable."
—Chris Young, who has hit two of his own this season.
Eric Byrnes hit a two-run homer as part of the Diamondbacks six-run outburst in the second inning last night. That was his 128th hit of the season and he now has 59 RBI and 65 runs. In the seventh inning, he singled (129), advancing Orlando Hudson to second. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases that inning but did not score. That would come back to haunt them, as the Atlanta Braves chipped away at what was once a 7-0 lead. They came back to tie the score as José Valverde blew a save. Of course he had some help; with two out in the ninth, Valverde and middle infielders Hudson and Drew were asleep on the infield, failing to call time as Valverde walked around the mound after giving up a walk. Hudson and Drew were both standing away from second base and looking out into the outfield; the first-base coach urged the base runner, Yunel Escobar, to move to second and he stole the base easily. He then scored the tying run on a single.
The day was saved in the 11th inning by Tony Clark, who hit a walk-off homer. But it wasn’t just any walk-off homer, this was a situation in which a home run was not expected because Clark was batting right-handed and he had not homered right-handed all season. He was also facing Wil Ledesma, who had not given up a homer to a right-handed hitter all season. But the Diamondbacks are leading charmed lives right now. That was their seventh consecutive win.
(photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
"It was one of those situations where when you’re 0-2, you look for a
fastball and try to battle and put something in play. I
just ran into it."
—Eric Byrnes, describing his walk-off homer.
With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Eric Byrnes smacked a 0-2 pitch, a letter high fastball over the heart of the plate from reliever Armando Benitez, into the Diamondbacks bullpen for a three-run homer that gave the Diamondbacks a 7-4 victory and a sweep of the four-game series against the Florida Marlins.
The homer, Byrnes’ first since July 7, was his 15th for the season and his 127th hit so far. Earlier in the game, he walked and stole his 27th base. He also made a runs-saving diving catch. He now has 57 RBI and he’s scored 64 runs.
The Diamondbacks, who have now won six in a row, are in second place, a game and a half behind the Dodgers. Now comes the big test: the Diamondbacks play the Atlanta Braves this weekend before going on a road trip that takes them to LA and San Diego.
(photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
Eric Byrnes set a new personal best in stolen bases today when he stole his 26th base as Arizona beat the Cubs today 3-0. The last nine steals have come in quick succession. The Diamondbacks played their 100th game today. He will definitely reach 30 stolen bases this season and has a shot at 40. Congratulations, Eric!
However, he’s got to get going on the hitting if he has hopes of being a member of the prestigious 30/30 club this year. His home run production has fallen off. He has only 14, his last one coming on July 8. He has lost the team lead to Chris Young, who has hit 15 homers. So Eric now has 62 games in which to hit 16 more homers. That will require him to go on a couple of tears in which he hits something like five homers in eight games.
He also has to pick up the doubles production, which he has to a certain extent lately, if he would like to set a new personal best in doubles (40). That will require 20 doubles in the next 62 games. He is up to 122 overall hits. He should surpass last year’s total of 150 rather easily. 180 is very realistic and the gold standard of 200 is still within the realm of possibility if he keeps accumulating multi-hit games.
Today he went to 1-4 (a single) with a walk. It was walk number 35, which surpasses the 34 he got last year. I’d like to see him get 15 more walks this year, which is basically one in every four games. Walking is good for the OBP and the stolen base opportunities. His best year for walks was 2004, when he walked 46 times.
2004 was also his worst year for strikeouts; he struck out 111 times. Unfortunately, he’s headed that way again after last year’s very good showing in striking out only 88 times. Right now, his K/BB ratio is exactly 2.00. That means he has 70 strikeouts to 35 walks. If the ratio does not go any higher and he gets 50 walks, that means 100 strikeouts. That isn’t the 70 to 80 I was hoping for, but it would be better than going over 111.
Eric has scored 60 runs so far. It remains to be seen whether he can beat his 2004 personal best of 91 runs. To do that, he would have to score 32 runs over the next 62 games. He gets on base enough times to make that possible, but his teammates don’t drive him in enough. Over the last two series with the Brewers and the Cubs, I saw him stranded in scoring position quite a number of times. If they would bring him in at least half the time he is on base, as they did today — he scored one of the two times he was on base — he’s got a shot at. He would also help his own cause in this respect by hitting some home runs.
It would also behoove him to be a bit more clutch now that he’s batting third rather than leadoff. He has 52 RBI, but his RBI pace has slowed of late. Would that he had 10 more at this point in the season. His personal best is the 79 he drove in last year. I’d like to see 90, which means 38 over the next 62 games. He really needs one or two of those explosive days where he gets five or more in one game. The kind of day guys like Albert Pujols manage to have at least once a year. A grand slam, his first, would be really nice.
What has been good to see this year is greater consistency. There have been no really long o-fer streaks. See, folks, give Eric a chance to play every day, and good things happen. Are you paying attention, Mr. Sabean?
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that contract talks between Eric Byrnes and the Diamondbacks have broken off.
Good. I wouldn’t want a job with a company that already knows who they want to replace me with.
Hopefully, the Giants are paying attention.
(photo by Darren Hauck/AP)
"We had a bunch of opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them. We have to figure out a way to get it done. No more
excuses. Bottom line is,
if we want to be a playoff team, we’ve got to win games like tonight.
Otherwise, we’ll all be sitting at home in October waiting on next
year. I know I don’t want to do that."
—Eric Byrnes, after the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 loss to the Brewers, in which they stranded 11 runners (including himself in scoring position 3 times).
In yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers, Eric Byrnes made the last out of the game. He hit the first pitch he saw from Francisco Cordero, the league’s best reliever. It was a broken-bat blooper into short center field that was gathered in by the second baseman. It stranded potential tying run Orlando Hudson at first base. And that was the theme of the game for both teams — stranding runners. It’s just that the Brewers managed to get one more runner home than the Diamondbacks did.
But Byrnes was more the strandee than the strander in this game. He went 3-5 and two of the three hits were doubles. His single, the first time up, drove in a run, his 51st of the year. He then stole his 21st base and was later driven in by Chad Tracy. But he would not touch home after either double or after reaching first on a fielder’s choice and working very hard to steal his 22nd base. That last at-bat was the only time in the game that Byrnes did not reach base. He was left in scoring position three times. There’s only so much one guy can do.
Byrnes now has 118 hits. It was great to see the two doubles; that’s more like Byrnesie. Chalk up yet another multi-hit game, and 22 stolen bases. This is the second time in recent days that he has stolen two bases in one game. In addition to driving in his 51st run, he scored his 57th run. The Diamondbacks would have won if he could have scored his 59th run yesterday. They’ve now lost 10 of their last 12 games and by and large it’s been because of one thing: lack of timely hitting. They get the runners on base; they get them in scoring position; but then they can’t close to the deal.
Picture Eric in a movie about race cars or skiing.
(photo by David Wallace/Arizona Republic)
When Eric Byrnes was in San Francisco at the beginning of July, he was told by someone that I wanted an interview with him for the blog. I was hoping that would take place during the All-Star break, but my heart had other plans. So now I’d like to put up the questions I would have asked. (Stats as of the morning of July 16):
1) You don’t appear to have altered your stance. To what do you attribute your newfound consistency?
2) Going into this season you were a lifetime .300 hitter against left-handers, but this year you’re batting only .229 against them. What’s wrong?
3) Throughout your career, you’ve been a much better hitter in the first half of the season than in the second half. Last year, Mark Grace wondered if that was because, giving your all-out style of play, you tire out in the second half. Might there be something to that, and have you or will you alter your training regimen or nutrition to avoid that this year?
4) With 32 walks already, you will exceed the 34 you got last year. However, with 62 strikeouts already, you are on pace to strike out well more than 100 times, whereas last year, you struck out only 88 times. Why the big increase?
5) With 115 hits already, you have a good chance of reaching 200 this year if your second half is anything close to what your first half was. But your ratio of extra-base hits to total hits is down precipitously over last year. You ended last year with 44% of your hits being for extra bases. As of today, just over 30% of your hits are for extra bases. Do you think that’s some kind of statistical anomaly, or has this year’s consistency at the plate come at the expense of the pop in your bat?
6) You currently have 14 homers, which means you need 12 more homers to hit 26 again this year. That 26th homer would also be the 100th of your career. Do you think you’ll get it this year?
7) Do you have any specific individual numerical goals? If so, what are they?
8) You have made it very clear that you want to stay in Arizona long-term. But I think the front-office has also made it very clear that despite your high level of performance, you are not really in their long-term plans. Why don’t you want to test the free-agent market, which it looks like you can do from a position of strength if you have a good second half of this year?
9) Statistics bear out that you are a much better player when you play every day. Aren’t you concerned that once Justin Upton makes the team in 2008 or 2009, you would be relegated to the bench?
10) Last year, Bronson Arroyo famously took a hometown discount to sign a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox only to be traded by them a month later in spring training. Aren’t you concerned that you could meet a similar fate if you sign a multiyear deal with the Diamondbacks, and end up with a team you never would have signed with as a free agent?
11) What do you think the Diamondbacks need most in order to make the playoffs this year?
12) You have gone from abysmal, aberrant 2005, where you were non-tendered at the end of the year, to a team leader in 2007, who a lot of people, including myself, thought should’ve made the All-Star team. What have you learned about yourself along that journey?
(photo by Jerome T. Nakagawal/Arizona Republic)
"I’ve tried hundreds of times in my career and came up empty a lot and
knocked them over a couple of times. That one hit the mitt and stuck. I
had to check to make sure it was in there."
The Arizona Diamondbacks were 2-8 at the All-Star break. They used the All-Star break to draw a bright line across the nominal first half of the season and started the second half like a totally different team in beating division rival San Diego 8-3. Of course, it helped that the first pitcher they face coming off the brake was none other than their favorite whipping boy, Greg Maddux, who is now 1-10 against Arizona. One could say the future Hall of Famer is "snake bit."
It was an "everyone into the pool" type of offense highlighted by Jeff Salazar’s going 3-4 and making a spectacular leaping catch to rob Brian Giles of a homer. Really, he displayed the type of vertical leap that would have made former college basketball star, Tony Clark, proud. Seven of the 8 runs were scored with two out. Clutch, eh? For once, winning pitcher Doug Davis got some early runs to back him. He had gotten into this game with the third lowest run support in the league. Run support is a beautiful thing.
Eric Byrnes who had gone 0-6 in the last game before the break showed that he was not going to let himself fall into a long o-fer streak by getting a hit in his first time up. It turned out that while I was hospitalized, Eric had been scuffling a bit, going 6-29. But last night, he got three hits, all singles, batting in a run, and scoring two others. His batting average is now back up to .310, which is as low as I want to see it go. He got his 50th RBI last night as well as his 55th run scored. He’s now up to 113 hits. He will need more multi-hit days like this in order to reach 200.
Byrnes is on pace for 100 runs scored and just a little below what he needs for 100 RBI this year. He batted third again, and if he can get as comfortable in the three-hole as he’s been in the leadoff spot, he will have the RBI opportunities he needs to reach 100. Chris Young has been batting leadoff the last few games. That seems to be his favorite spot. Orlando Hudson has moved up to second. If those two can get on base with regularity, Byrnesie should be in good shape, especially since Chris Young is the team’s second best base stealer behind Byrnes in terms of absolute number, and the best in terms of success rate. He’s stolen 10 bags and hasn’t been caught yet.
Byrnes can help his own cause by getting into scoring position himself, not only with more stolen bases, but with more doubles. My one concern about the 113 hits is that so many of them are singles. His ratio of XBH/H has declined significantly. Also, yesterday he struck out for the 60th time; he is on a pace for well over 100 strikeouts when last year he struck out only 88 times. Why?
But today I’m not going to quibble much. Three hits, an RBI, and two runs scored is a pretty good day, and a fresh start for a hitter and team that slid into the All-Star break.
ByrnesBlogger1, who will feel much better soon, the more days like this she sees.
(photo of Eric Byrnes by David Wallace/Arizona Republic)
(photo by Francis Specker)
"I know how serious I am about wanting to stay here. I’d
like to find a way to get it done. I’m going to do everything in my
"I think we always want to keep our options open, and he’s without
question played at a very high level since he’s been here. Then it’s a matter always of the best use of our dollars and
where our personnel sets up now and in the future."
—Josh Byrnes (no relation) Arizona GM
I’ve just read an article on MLB.com about you being in negotiations to stay with Arizona long-term. (OF Byrnes would like to stay put: Free-agent-to-be willing to take discount for long-term deal)
Are you really sure about that? You’ve always wanted to be an everyday player and you finally got that opportunity this year. But what about two years down the road? You have made it very clear to that front office for a long time that you wanted to stay and you weren’t out to break the bank. Yet last year, negotiations went down to the wire to avoid arbitration. And they wouldn’t even give you the $5 million you wanted in a market that gave Gary Matthews, Jr. five years and 50 million. And this after you set a franchise mark for combined homers and stolen bases.
Now you’re starting to negotiate with them again and I’m sure your demands for money are quite reasonable, but it’s like pulling teeth. With you doing so well this year, they need to at least look like they trying to keep you, because fans are still ticked at the whole Luis Gonzalez thing and to lose another fan favorite, especially one who should’ve been on the All-Star team, is going to make them wonder how serious the front office is about winning any time soon. With your excellent play, your interest in staying, and your willingness to take a hometown discount, they should be eager to sew you up for the long-term. But the article I read still betrays a reluctance on their part. I think they are still committed to playing their kids and I wonder if there would even be negotiations now but for the fact that none of the kids are doing very well right now and, in fact, Carlos Quentin is back in Tucson. You’re still Plan B with Arizona even though you and Orlando Hudson should be team cocaptains. No matter how much of a hometown discount you are willing to take, any money spent on you would be too much money for them if they really aren’t planning to use you down the road.
Be careful what you wish for, Eric. We’d love to have you in San Francisco and I’m sure there are other cities where you would be quite welcome and command a handsome price. But more important than money, in other cities, you could be more confident that you would have the everyday opportunity to play with a team that needs you, and not one that is itching to throw you over for one of their kids. You’d be frustrated as a part-time player, and wasted as such. You’ve certainly shown you don’t deserve that status.
I really wish you would test the market, Eric. See what’s out there for you not only in terms of money but in terms of opportunity, which is the one thing you’ve always said was most important to you. I just don’t see these front-office guys giving you the kind of respect a team leader deserves. They don’t even have a giveaway in your honor this year, even though they have them for Baxter and Mark Grace. If Arizona really were giving you your props, they would have signed you to a long-term deal at the end of last year.