The Giants took Game 2 by a score of 4-1.
I sat with a Giants fan who had been telling me for a while how bad Noah Lowry is. Coulda fooled me.
Doug Davis took the loss.
Eric Byrnes struck out twice and did nothing against LHP again. Why he is doing so poorly against lefties this year is beyond me. He did get an infield hit when he led off the ninth. Why he slides into first is beyond me.
Barry Bonds did not homer, but not for trying. He hit one to right-center and Byrnesie, playing right, kept it in the park. But he couldn’t make a clean catch and Bonds ended up with an RBI double.
The wind was horrible and I froze even more that I did last night, despite adding a long-sleeved layer.
The Diamondbacks are playing the Giants in SF and I am at all three games. So just a short synopses this time; I’ll go into details after the series is over, complete with sound, my first stab at field reporting in two years. Boy, am I rusty!
1) Eric Byrnes had two singles, a stolen base, a run scored and an IBB to offset the strike out he had first time up. Those were hits No. 102 and 103 and exactly the halfway point in the season. Also stolen base No. 15 and run scored No. 50. Did you get that, Mr. LaRussa?
2) Starter Livan Hernadez pitched well and long…into the 8th. But he lost the W when he gave up No. 750 to Barry Bonds.
3) Miguel Montero had the gamer–a solo homer in the 10th.
4) Tony Pena got the win and Jose Valverde got another save. The Score was 4-3 in 10 innings.
5) I froze again. This time my skin was pink and I said I had freezer burn.
6) After the game, I saw Tony Clark and Jose Valverde. I said nothing to Clark, who was engaged in conversation with a security guard it seemed he knew. I exchanged salutes with Papa Grande who had a cell phone in his hand and was obviously looking for a good signal.
(photo by Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic)
"I think I threw better in that simulated game."
–Randy Johnson, describing his 3-inning outing in his first game back from the DL.
A couple of months ago, someone wondered if True Elation should require a team victory. I said no. True Elation relates to Eric Byrnes’ performance and I can be truly elated about that even if the team loses. In fact, if I can’t be elated about his performance when the team loses there won’t be much elation in the season. As it stands now, most True Elation days are victories for the Diamondbacks. But now that we’ve reached the halfway point of the season, I really don’t like what I see in the team. Today was a perfect example:
Randy Johnson, in his first start back from the DL after re-herniating his disc, lasted only three innings. He threw 70 pitches, giving up six hits, two walks and four runs, three of them earned. He limped coming off the mound at the end of the third inning. During the game the announcers said that Johnson was lifted because he was on an 85 pitch limit and already had thrown 70 and they didn’t want him to approach the limit. And Johnson later claimed that the limping was not because of his back or rather because of a nerve problem in his leg. But the nerve problem is sciatica, which is often caused by a disk impinging on the nerve.
The Diamondbacks are in very big trouble with regards to starting pitching. I don’t have much confidence in Livan Hernandez or Doug Davis, two of the pitchers I will see this weekend when the Diamondbacks come to play the Giants in the "Ballpark by the Bay." One or both of them may surprise me this weekend — I certainly hope so; the Diamondbacks were swept in San Francisco in April — but for the long haul I don’t have much faith that they will be more than .500 pitchers and that may be stretching it this year. I am impressed with Micah Owings, but he was used in relief today. If they keep skipping his turn or using him in relief, I don’t see how he can settle down to being the starting pitcher the Diamondbacks need him to be. Doug Slaten is a disappointment in the bullpen. But then again I don’t think very much of lefty specialists to begin with. The only good news lately is that Tony Pena is back after having had an abscess drained from his leg.
The Diamondbacks committed four errors and a passed ball in this one game, continuing the very sloppy fielding they have shown this homestand. They allowed four unearned runs. That was the margin of victory for the Dodgers right there as they won 9-5.
It also doesn’t help that they leave a lot of men on base. Eric Byrnes was on base four times today but he scored only once. A combination of more scoring on the Diamondbacks part and less giving away of runs would have made this the Diamondbacks victory it should have been. Dodger starter Randy Wolf was no Derek Lowe.
Speaking of opposition pitchers, it also does not help to be giving up hits to them. Randy Wolf went 2 for 4 today and over the last 10 games opposing pitchers have batted .385. With stats like that, who needs a DH?
So while I’ll always root for the Diamondbacks to win (as long as they have Eric Byrnes, that is), you can see why I’ll take my True Elation where I can find it, and not worry too much about the score.
(photo by David Zalubowski/AP)
"Prior to this season, everything I heard was about their youth
movement. I took that personally. I came into the
season with as much confidence in my baseball ability than I’ve ever
had. I knew there were a lot of things I can’t control. But I knew I
could help this team."
Eric Byrnes didn’t just get two hits and two RBI today; he got hits 100 and 101 for the season. The Diamondbacks play their 81st game at the "Ballpark by the Bay" tomorrow. That means Eric is on pace for a 200-hit season. Two hundred hits is one of the gold standards of hitting. It remains to be seen if he can really do it. He has a history of being a first-half player and major league leader in decline in OPS after the All-Star break. But I’m going to enjoy this while I can, believe in him while I can, and root him on.
The two RBI came on a bases-loaded single in the seventh inning. Yeah, I know. It wasn’t a grand slam. It wasn’t even a bases-clearing double or triple. But I’m glad whenever he gets a hit with the sacks full. The bigger hits will happen and they’ll happen this year. They were two runs he drove in when the Dodgers were winning 9-1. Eric Byrnes never quits. The problem was him not being driven in often enough in this game. That’s not his problem.
Eric gave them plenty of opportunity. He went 2-3 with two walks. So he was on base four times, but scored only once. If the Diamondbacks continue to leave their table setter on the table 75% of the time, rather than driving him in 75% of the time, they are soon going to be joining the Giants in the cellar. But right now, I want to focus on the fact that Eric Byrnes was on base four times today. He now has walked three times in the last two days after going through something of a walk drought. Yes, he struck out also, but I’ll take two walks per strikeout any day.
One hundred and one hits in 80 games! Thirty one multi-hit games! The Cardinals and the Mets were rained out in New York. Mr. LaRussa, perchance did you catch the Diamondbacks game this afternoon?
Joe Garagiola, Sr., who is the Diamondbacks color analyst on Saturday home games, recently shared this snippet of conversation:
JG: Byrnesie, when do you decide to go for the extra base?
EB: As soon as I leave the batter’s box.
As Joe said at the time he told the story, "Ya gotta love it."
I most certainly do.
Congratulations, Frank Thomas, on your 500th homer, hit off Carlos Silva of the Twins at the Metrodome. You’ve now hit 10% of your homers off the Twins. I remember seeing you hit one in the Oakland Coliseum in July of ’05, and thinking that it might be one of your last, especially after your season ended later that month. I am glad I was wrong. You have said you want to try for 600. May you stay healthy enough to do it.
Congratulations, Craig Biggio, on your 3,000 hit today. You sure did it in style. The hit, off Rockies starter Aaron Cook at Minute Maid Park, was the third of five hits you had today, and it drove in a run. Maybe now that you’re past this milestone, you’ll hit your normal average. But what ever got into your head about trying for second??? Nice of you to acknowledge your fellow "Killer B," Jeff Bagwell, in the moment.
Save No. 25
(photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
“It wasn’t a pretty win. But it was a win that we had to scrap for.”
The Diamondbacks finally solved the Dodgers, for this night at least. They did it behind in their ace, Brandon Webb, who now owns the two victories the Diamondbacks have over Los Angeles this season. Webb shut out the Dodgers for seven innings, pitching out of several jams along the way.
Dodgers starter Derek Lowe was nearly as good, giving up an unearned run in the first inning, when Chad Tracy drove in Stephen Drew with a sacrifice fly.
The Diamondbacks’ insurance run came in the eighth inning when Scott Hairston singled off Lowe, was sacrificed to second by Chris Snyder and went to third on a Lowe wild pitch. Low then yielded up a two-out RBI single to Eric Byrnes. That’s Byrnes’ 99th hit of the year; he’s tied with shortstop Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins for second in the National League. (Byrnes and Ramirez are tied for sixth in the majors). It came on his last at-bat, in the seventh inning. It was good to see because despite his excellent career stats against Derek Lowe, Byrnes has been able to do nothing against him this season. It looked as if he would have his second consecutive leadoff home run today, but Luis Gonzalez ran the fly ball down on the warning track.
Byrnes got his revenge on Gonzo later in the game in a play that was also redemption for him. Gonzalez lined the ball to right field for what should have been a single, but Byrnesie misplayed it and it rolled to the wall. Gonzo headed for the second, but Byrnes fired a strike to Stephen Drew, who tagged Gonzalez on the head before the foot reached the bag. It was the most beautiful throw I’ve seen Byrnes make this year, perhaps ever. Absolutely perfect! And he didn’t have to do a front flip to get it off, although he did end up on his knees afterwards. He really would make more throws with more power and accuracy if he did not leave his feet in the attempt.
José Valverde recorded his 25th save of the season — the second-highest total in the major leagues — in a brilliant four-out effort. It was the first time this year that he was asked to enter the game in the eighth inning. The bases were loaded, courtesy of two singles given up by Randy Choate, and a walk given up by José Cruz. The bullpen was a little thin on Wednesday because Tony Pena underwent a medical procedure earlier this week and Brandon Lyon pitched two innings the night before. But Valverde was rested and up to the task, allowing no hits and striking out two, including Jeff Kent to end the game.
Mr. La Russa, were you watching?
The Padres beat the Giants earlier in the day. The Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres have now leapt over the Dodgers into a tie for first place in the NL West.
Randy Johnson, et al. close out the series and the homestand in a matchup against Randy Wolf today.
(photo by Paul Connors/AP)
“It’s the pitcher. Nobody would think he would hit the ball as hard as that.”
–AZ starter Edgar Gonzalez. His Dodger counterpart, Chad Billingsley, hit a 2-run double off him in the fourth inning.
Both starters were gone after four, each having given up five runs. Each bullpen then tossed two zeros until the 10th inning when Arizona’s Doug Slaten gave up Tony Abreu’s first major league home run. That was the run that won the game for the Dodgers and enabled them to supplant the Diamondbacks in first place in the NL West.
Slaten has been having trouble with righthanders lately and Abreu is a switch hitter who took advantage of the situation. Tony Pena was not available and Bob Melvin didn’t want to use José Valverde unless the Diamondbacks got the lead.
Eric Byrnes, Chris Young, and Mark Reynolds each hit homers. Reynolds was pinch-hitting at the time he hit his. Orlando Hudson made a fine play, grabbing a grounder headed to center field and flipping it with his glove to shortstop Stephen Drew, we just managed to keep his foot on the bag while corralling the somewhat wide throw to end a Dodgers rally in the fourth.
Byrnes’ homer, his 13th of the year, was his third leadoff homer this season and the seventh of his career. It looks as though he’s found his place in the lineup as a leadoff hitter. And he walked for the first time in a long time. But he also struck out leading off the ninth inning going after a high fastball. It looked like he wanted too much to end it with one swing. His batting average is down to .312, but the homer came after a day when he got no hits. Byrnes is managing to avoid prolonged hitless streaks and that’s great. He just needs to get more hits with runners on base — he left three on last night — and go back to hitting .300 against left-handers. Still, he’s turning in excellent numbers — he has 98 hits on the season already — so we hope Tony LaRussa is paying attention.
Today looks like the best day for the Diamondbacks to beat the Dodgers. It won’t be easy because they’re starting Derek Lowe, but the Diamondbacks are countering with Brandon Webb, who owns the only Diamondbacks victory against the Dodgers this season. Randy Johnson looks like he’s going to close out the series and the homestand Thursday, but we don’t know what to expect from his back and, frankly, neither does he.
(photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)
"It’s a tough play if he makes it, but it’s one of those smother ones
where if you stay back, you’re not going to get to [it]. If you go get it, it’s your only chance, and it’s a tough play."
–Mgr. Bob Melvin, on shortstop Stephen Drew’s error in the sixth.
Brad Penny was supposed to pitch Sunday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But Dodgers manager Grady Little decided to change the rotation so that Penny would face the Diamondbacks on Monday. That move cost the Dodgers to win on Sunday against the AL East team, but it paid off in a win against a division rival.
Penny allowed one run on four hits over eight innings to get his 10th win of the season. Moreover, he is now 7-2 lifetime against the Diamondbacks with a 1.81 ERA. Conor Jackson seemed to be the one Diamondback who could solve Penny; he got two of his three hits off the Dodgers starter. CoJack scored the Diamondbacks only run when he was driven in by a Chris Young double in the fourth. Penny halted Eric Byrnes’ latest hitting streak at nine games, striking him out twice.
Arizona starter Micah Owings had the Dodgers shut out through five. But then, in the sixth, the roof fell in. Brad Penny hit a double — it’s always bad news to allow a pitcher an extra-base hit — and Rafael Furcal got an infield hit that moved Penny to third. Then came the error by Stephen Drew. It was definitely a tough play, but we’ve seen a lot of errors lately and this was another one that cost the Diamondbacks big time.
Still, the score was only 4-1 at the end of the inning. But Penny would not be denied and the Diamondbacks bullpen allowed the Dodgers to double their score. The Diamondbacks are showing a pattern of losing the first game in a series. They lost the first game to the Orioles and to the Devil Rays before the Dodgers came to town. The question is whether the Diamondbacks can now win the rest of the series as they did the other two. The Dodgers are a much better team than the Orioles or the Devil Rays.
Edgar Gonzalez goes tonight against Chad Billingsley.
Article by Michael Schwartz: Byrnes putting up All-Star numbers
You’ve pitched 2 complete games this month. The latest, last night, a 5-2 victory over the Oakland A’s, your old hometown team, had you join Josh Beckett of the Red Sox as the only 11-game winners in the majors.
You need to name two Diamondbacks to the All-Star team.
One is closer Jose Valverde, who has 24 saves, second in the NL. (He would have more if the Diamondbacks would give him more opportunities. But then again, I’m sure he doesn’t mind when the team wins 8-3 like they did yesterday. <grin> He also just became the franchise leader in career saves, reaching that mark (75) his last time out.
The other is Eric Byrnes, who as of Monday morning June 25, is leading the Diamondbacks in the following offensive categories: BA .317; HR 12; RBI 42 (tied with Orlando Hudson); R 47; SB 14; OPS .883; XBH 32; and TB 158.
Additionally, Eric and Hanley Ramirez of Florida are tied for second in the NL in total hits (97).
Last year, Eric Byrnes set a Diamondbacks franchise record for the combination of homers and stolen bases, going 26/25 to lead the team in both categories and become one of only 3 major leaguers to have at least 25 homers and 25 stolen bases last year.
He’s also been known to flash the leather, too:
He’s a Bay Area native, so his fans here would really love to see him play in the All-Star Game in San Francisco.
UPDATE: True Elation 10: Eric Byrnes got two singles and drove in 2 runs as the Diamondbacks beat the Orioles 8 – 3 to take the series two games to one. The Snakes are now on top of the NL West.