"People talk about the run differential, people talk about the numbers
that don’t make sense. But there’s a
reason why it doesn’t make sense. It’s because this is a team. I don’t
think that in professional sports you’re not going to find more of a
team than what you’ll find here."
–Eric Byrnes, fracturing the English language a la W, but you get the point.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have clinched a playoff berth with tonight’s 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies, coupled with the Mets 7-4 loss to the Florida Marlins. They will make their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.
I admit that my doubts were running wild going into today’s game. First of all, the D’Backs had just dropped 2 of 3 to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, although most times the thought of Brandon Webb starting is a comfort, I knew that he’s had a rough time with the Rockies this year. To top it off, the Rockies had won 11 straight.
But then, just before the game started, I heard that 7 of the 11 victories were against the Dodgers who used the occasion to audition a number of not-ready-for-prime-time MLB hopefuls. The whoever-it-was sports host I heard on KTAR (a Phoenix radio station) was just livid about it, accusing the Dodgers of tanking. Suddenly, the Rockies streak didn’t seem indicative of a team of destiny.
And they weren’t. Brandon Webb turned in a quality start — 2 runs in seven innings. Augie Ojeda, Conor Jackson and Stephen Drew drove in the runs, with CoJack hitting his 15th homer. It came off Rockies starter Jeff Francis; CoJack has his number. Then on came Brandon Lyon for his 35th hold in the 8th and Jose Valverde for his major league leading (and uniform matching) 47th save. The D’Backs victory was their 90th of the year.
Eric Byrnes doubled off the third baseman’s glove (30th double, 179th hit), with one out, then stole third with two out. (That’s called taking a big chance. One is not supposed to make the first or third out at third base). The D’Backs loaded the bases then. But they did not score. This is not good going into the playoffs. In October, you can’t load the bases and not score and expect to win. So the Snakes should use the next two games to iron out the kinks.
But for tonight, they can enjoy their first step into the post-season. Just don’t do anything dumb while you’re partying!
"Micah’s offense is a joke. He takes
[batting practice] twice a week and steps up and rakes big league
pitching. It seems like he’s on [every pitch]. It’s fun to watch."
— Eric Byrnes, who could stand to take some hitting instruction from the Diamondbacks pitcher.
Micah Owings and Stephen Drew led the Diamondbacks in a slugfest win over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 at PNC Park earlier today. Brandon Webb was supposed to pitch for the Diamondbacks. However, with threatening weather, the D’backs brain trust decided to hold Webb back so that he wouldn’t end up pitching a few innings, be taken out after a long rain delay, and be unable to come back during the Colorado series, which closes out the season.
Owings was lights out on the mound, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings before a rain delay forced him out. He was also on fire at the plate, going 4-4, with three doubles and three RBI. Nothing like a pitcher who can help his own cause, especially when the team has not been hitting. But offense was not the problem today. Fellow Georgian Stephen Drew joined the hitting party, going 3-5, with three RBI and two runs scored. His solo homer in the first inning got the Diamondbacks on the board. Augie Ojeda went 2-4, with a walk, and three runs scored. Tony Clark contributed a home run.
Eric Byrnes finally remembered what it’s like to get an RBI (83), when he singled (178) home Stephen Drew in the second inning for his first RBI since September 12. However, he got picked off first on the third pickoff attempt, after taking very aggressive leads off first. To make matters worse, he hurt himself sliding back into first on the second pickoff attempt. I don’t know exactly what was the problem, but the camera showed him grimacing. His other at-bats were anything but memorable. He stranded 4 runners. One time he struck out after running the count to 3-0. It looked like he swung at ball four. And while we’ll take an RBI single any day of the week, it would be nice if he remembered once again what it’s like to get an extra-base hit. Diamondbacks broadcaster Daron Sutton mentioned the dipping back shoulder that Mark Grace pointed out during the last homestand. That it’s still there means that either no one has brought it to Eric’s attention, or he hasn’t been able to break the habit. His batting average is now down to .288. Maybe Byrnes needs to get Micah Owings to give him some tips on hitting doubles. Why not? They’re both right-handed hitters.
Arizona and Pittsburgh played the first game of the day in the major leagues. So their results are known to the Padres, Rockies and Phillies as they go into their contests.
The bad weather in Pittsburgh now allows Arizona ace Brandon Webb to go up against the Rockies. He starts the first game of the series tomorrow against Jeff Francis.
Do you need the Heimlich Maneuver?
You haven’t won since Saturday. The lead is only one game over the Padres and two over the Rockies with four to go, including three with the Rockies.
You are not supposed to be losing to a team that has lost 90 games and is in last place in its division, 15 games out.
There might be a tendency on the part of some people to say that this young team just didn’t learn to close it out. But I won’t buy that. At this time of the year, the rookies aren’t really rookies anymore. And some of the blame for you guys folding like origami this week lies with the veterans.
Livan staking the Buccos to a 4-run lead doesn’t help. Two games in a row where you were faced with scoring at least 6 runs to win. Not good. Especially when your bats are A.W.O.L.
This means you, Byrnes. In the high summer I would have been fine with what happened yesterday: another single (177) stolen base (49) run scored (103) sequence, and an outfield assist (12 a new personal best). But you left four men on base, including Chris Young at third. I wish that Young could have read the throw into the infield a but better, but there I will chalk it up to inexperience and he was better off being careful. But you could have made things easier by at least hitting a fly ball deeper.
It was a game the Diamondbacks might have won had they been in the American League. Starter Doug Davis allowed only 2 runs in his 5-inning, 69-pitch outing, both of them in the first inning. But manager Bob Melvin lifted him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth in an unsuccessful bid to score a run in a game that was 2-1 Pittsburgh at that point. Pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo struck out.
Then in the 7th inning, Tony Pena gave up 3 runs.
The Diamondbacks tied the score with 4 runs in the top of the eighth, but failed to get more when Eric Byrnes ended the rally by grounding out to third with runners on first and second. He also flied out, struck out, and GIDP in this game. (Chris Snyder GIDP twice). When Byrnes singled (176) and stole 2nd base (48) with two out in the third, he was stranded as Mark Reynolds grounded out.
Brandon Lyon gave up Pittsburgh’s winning run. A 1-out double, a balk that moved the runner to third, and a ground ball single to left made the score 6-5 Pittsburgh, and Pirates’ reliever Matt Capps pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save. (Saloman Torres got the win).
And thus the D’Backs continue the disturbing habit of losing the first game of a road trip or home stand. This one was a particularly bitter loss because a) the Pirates entered the game with a 9-game losing streak; b) the Diamondbacks left 10 runners on base so this wasn’t a case of the Pirates pitching lights out and c) the Padres, who were down to their last strike, came back to beat the Giants and the Rockies earned a come-from-behind victory against the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks therefore failed to lower their magic number; it remains 4.
With the Rockies so hot, the Diamondbacks cannot afford to lose either of the next two games in Pittsburgh before they close out the season in Colorado.
Thanks to the Giants for holding down the Padres last night.
The Diamondbacks open a three-game series against the Pirates tonight at PNC. A sweep of this series would be nice going into the season-ending series versus the red-hot Rockies in Colorado.
Doug Davis starts tonight. He claims to have found a flaw in his mechanics that has rendered him ineffective the last three starts. Let’s hope he’s fixed it. The team needs the DD that was pitching about a month ago.
And speaking of fixing things, Byrnesie, your batting average is doing its annual year-end swan drive. The team doesn’t need that from its MVP going into the playoffs. Get that back shoulder up and start hitting line drives again. You haven’t had an RBI since I last saw you in San Francisco.
Line drives, EB, line drives. Those 50-story fly balls you hit look majestic when they go over the wall, but they look pathetic when they are caught by an infielder.
Yeah, I know, there’s one more game left in the series. But the Diamondbacks eliminated the Dodgers from the race for the NL West division crown with tonight’s 6-2 victory. You should have heard the crowd of 47,673 shout "Beat LA!" They are as good at it as the giants fams in San Francisco.
It was Brandon Webb’s 17th win, a career high. Chris Young led off the game with a homer–his 9th lead off homer of the year and 32nd overall–and the Diamondbacks never looked back. While Webby kept hanging zeros on the board–he didn’t give up any runs until the 7th inning–the D’Backs scored in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th innings. Mark Reynolds hit a solo homer and Webb helped his own cause with an RBI single.
Webb also benefited from stellar defense, including a final play of the game. Mark Reynolds climed the ladder to snare a line drive.
Eric Byrnes had two singles (174 and 173), extending his hitting streak to 6 games. He also had back-to-back stolen bases, running up his total to 47. And he scored two runs, bringing that total to 102. Plus he made a fine defensive play–an over-the-shoulder catch that saved an RBI double.
However, in the 8th inning, after the Snakes had scored one, Byrnesie popped up with runners on second and third to end the inning. He hasn’t had an RBI since Sunday the 12th in San Francisco. <drumming fingers impatiently>
The Rockies also beat the Padres tonight. Thank you, Rockies, for pushing the Friars back some more, also by a 6-2 score.
Tomorrow the Diamondbacks go for the sweep behind Edgar Gonzalez. It’s Chad Billingsley for the Dodgers.
(Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
"TC came up big right there with the two-run home run, and it seemed
like that swung the momentum our way and we just kept on swinging from
— Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds.
Tony Clark, the man who coined the phrase "Anybody Anytime," was the Anybody-in-Chief tonight, batting in 4 runs, including two on a homer, as the Diamondbacks BEAT L.A.! (Stick a fork in them; they’re done). Mark "The Sheriff" Reynold knocked in 3, with 2 of the RBI coming on a homer, and Chris Young also hit a 2-run homer.
Livan Hernandez got off to a shaky start, giving up a run in each of the first three innings, but TC tied it with his homer in the bottom of the third and Livo slammed the door on the Dodgers over the next three innings. He also helped his own cause at the plate by hitting an opposite field single to score Augie Ojeda, who had tripled ahead of Livo with two out. He’s now 11-10.
Eric Byrnes has a strange day at the plate: a sacrifice bunt(!) first time up. A popout, a swinging bunt for a single and then he was hit by a pitch. It caught him near the elbow and we heard him yell, so it had to have hurt real bad.
(Photo by Ross D Franklin/AP)
The big news was that he scored both times he got on base.
ERIC BYRNES HAS NOW SCORED 100 RUNS!!!!
If anyone reading this actually talks to Eric, please give him the message below:
Mark Grace has an answer for you!
Your hitting looked awful but that’s where Gracie comes in. He told us that you were dipping your back shoulder; we got the side views of you so we could see what he meant. It’s the cause of the early uppercuts in your swing that cause all the pop ups and foul balls.
Talk to Gracie, ASAP!
The Dodgers will get tangled in the Webb tomorrow. <heh-heh-heh>
The Rockies beat the Padres in 14. The D’Backs magic number for a playoff berth is now 6, to win the division outright, it’s 8.