It’s very difficult to sweep a four game series and the San Diego Padres didn’t do it. But they almost did. In the middle of the 7th, the score was 8-0 D’Backs. At the end of the 7th, it was 8-3. At the end of the game, it was 8-7.
This is scary. The D’Backs have been having trouble scoring runs. They finally score a bunch and the bullpen almost blows the lead. Cruz, Pena and Valverde each gave up at least one run. Only Doug Slaten, the lefty specialist, got through his third of an inning with his ERA unscathed. Yeah, I know relievers are human, but when you’re in a playoff race,you do not want to see them all demonstrate their humanity at once.
Eric Byrnes was hit by a pitch and scored. That was run No. 83, which means he has surpassed his total for last year. It’s not a personal best, that would be 92. But it’s an accomplishment of a sort.
However, Byrnes is in his usual end-of-the-year slump. First, he fell below .300, then he "traded sideways" around .298 for a couple of weeks, then, over the last couple of days, he’s bageled and fallen to .293. We saw this last year, when he finished at .267 in a season he could have finished above .285.
Consistency Byrnesie? Looks like you are giving us another example of your consistent wilting late in the season. Not what your team needs. You’re a team leader on a contender now, not a fourth outfielder with a team that’s playing out the string. Save the bagels and popups for your breakfast and take up smoking (the baseball) again.
Yeah, I know, even aces have off days. But I wish Brandon Webb had waited one more turn to give up six earned runs. The Diamondbacks really could have used the win tonight, especially since Greg Maddux starts game 3 and it now appears that San Diego’s Chris Young will return to the rotation in time to pitch the last game of the series.
An opportunity to put some distance between the Snakes and their nearest rivals has been lost. The best the D’backs can do now is to gain a split and leave San Diego status quo ante. It isn’t time to panic yet, even if the Snakes lose three or all four games to the Friars. A sweep by the Padres would put the D’Backs only two games out of first with the whole month of September, including 3 games at home against the San Diegans. There is still time to pull it out, though I am quite aware that the rest of the schedule is tough. The Cardinals are still in the Central race and even the lowly Giants are remembering what it’s like to win. And they’ve taken 5 of the last 6 from the D’Backs at "Ballpark by the Bay."
But what I really want to talk about is one Eric Byrnes — base thief. He got a single (152) this game and the pitcher threw to first 5 straight times. Then he finally threw home and as expected Byrnesie took off. And since everyone was expecting him to go, the Padres pitched out. But Byrnesie made it into second safely for steal No. 38! <heh-heh-heh> And he scored, which was only right since he worked so hard to get into scoring position and since his teammates have been stranding him after steals lately. That was run No. 82, which ties last year’s total.
"Coming into it and facing Peavy, we’re facing their [ace] tonight, and
they have to face ours tomorrow, so we feel real good about Webby
going, and as long as he goes out there and pitches the way he’s been
pitching, I think we’ll be fine."
–Eric Byrnes, after a tough loss to the D’Backs nearest division rival.
Jake Peavy struck out 11 Diamondbacks, but when he stepped off the mound for the last time in the seventh inning tonight, he was on the losing side. The score was 1-0 Arizona, courtesy of Eric Byrnes’ 19th homer of the season. Finally! He hadn’t homered since August 12. (Now if he can only get number 20 before the month is out!)
However, Geoff Blum snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the bottom of the seventh by hitting a two-run homer and Milton Bradley hit a solo shot in the eighth for the insurance run.
They didn’t get any more because Eric Byrnes saved a double earlier in the game with an excellent catch in left field.
The Padres are now two games out of first.
Byrnesie, remember that homer. We need a bunch of them from you over the next week. You haven’t been on a real homer jag this year. You know, one of those five homers in eight games deals. As I recall, you had two of those last year. I’ve got tickets to the Diamondbacks series in San Francisco. I would love to see homers no. 26 and 27 in "Ballpark by the Bay."
Tonight’s homer was hit no. 152, RBI no. 72, and run scored no. 81; one more ties his total of last year. But he needs some multi-hit games. The 1-4 or 1-3 and a walk pattern he has been showing a lot of lately has kept his batting average at .298. I liked it better when it was .316.
I also liked it better when it was 1-0 tonight. Live by the homer, die by the homer.
The Diamondbacks had to face Jake Peavy tonight, but now the Padres have to face Brandon Webb. <heh-heh-heh>
for the Diamondbacks as they have just beaten the Cubs 5-4!
It was an ugly start for Yusmeiro Petit who lasted 4 innings and gave up 4 earned runs. But he was followed zeroes issued by Edgar Gonzalez who threw 2 innings and got the win, Tony Pena, who threw the 7th and Brandon Lyon, who threw the 8th–both got holds–and Jose Valverde who benefited from some great defense by Jeff Cirillo and Tony Clark, on his way to save no. 40.
Chris Young was the big offensive story of the day, starting the game with a homer and following up with a three-run blast in the second inning.
Eric Byrnes singled (151), walked (51) and stole 2 base (36 & 37) but was stranded at second both times.
Meanwhile, Philadephia pounded San Diego 14-2, so the Friars have many sins to contemplate on the long flight back from the east coast. The D’Backs take on the Pads over the next 4 days.
One bit of managerial tactics I disagreed with: BoMel sent Micah Owings in to pinch-hit for Petit in the bottom of the fourth and had him bunt. It didn’t work and the Cubs nailed the runner at third. But even if it had worked I wouldn’t have liked it. If you’re going to use Micah Owings as a pinch-hitter, have him hit! I know he’s not going to hit a homer every time up that he’s waster bunting in that situation. In his own starts, sure. But don’t call on him outside of his starts–and BoMel has said we’d see more of that–just to have him deliberately make an out.
The Dodgers and the Mets are the Sunday Night game. Lets Go Mets!
Doug Davis got back to his winning ways, pitching 7 innings of one-run ball as the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs 3-1 in front of a crowd of over 46,000. Thanks you, Cubs fans, for helping to fill the park.
Brandon Lyon pitched a scoreless 8th for the hold and Jose Valverde picked up his 39th save by going 1-2-3 in the ninth. As Mark Grace says, "Te amo, Papa!"
The big hit of the night was Conor Jackson’s 2-run homer in the 4th inning. Eric Byrnes was on board when Co-Jack went deep, having hit a single. It was hit no.150 for Byrnesie, tying his total for all of last season. He needs 162 to reach a new personal best. The run scored was his 80th; he needs 3 more to surpass last year’s total. He also walked in the 8th. It was his 50th, meeting the benchmark for walks I set for him this spring in trying to determine what he needed to have a good year at the plate. But he needs some more multi-hit games and he needs to hit some homers. He hasn’t homered since August 12. Some more doubles would be nice, too.
San Diego and Colorado won. The Dodgers lost. (Lets go Mets!) SD is two games back. LA and the Rox are 6.5 games out.
Brandon Webb’s consecutive scoreless streak was ended with one out in the first inning of the third game of the recently concluded series with the Brewers. We can now look back on it and say that it was the 5th longest such streak since the end of WWII, and it was 12-1/3 innings longer than the previous franchise mark, also set by Webb.
The end of the streak at 42-1/3 reminded us of just how special Drysdale’s 58 and and Hersheiser’s 59 were. Webb hadn’t given up a run in a month and he ended up nowhere near the record.
At least it ended with an earned run, a run driven in by Brewer star Prince Fielder. It would have been terrible to end the streak with a boot or with a hit by some palooka called up from the minors because someone went on the DL.
But what was really important was that Brandon settled down and threw lights out for the rest of his outing. The Diamondbacks prevented a sweep by the Brewers. The real value of Brandon Webb is that he’s the ace; he’s the stopper. The D’Backs were doing poorly before the streak began. They climbed into first place during the streak.
How the $&@(!$ does any team give up THIRTY unanswered, earned runs in one game?
(And on the day their manager’s contract was extended?)
Had it been the WBC, the mercy rule would have been invoked long before.
Then to add insult to injury, they had to play another game right afterwards. (They lost 9-7).
I was just scanning his career stats to see what new personal bests were within reach this year, and I noticed sometime that the announcers, who are usually full of arcane stats, made no mention of. When he stole his 35th base of the season yesterday, he was also stealing the 100th base of his career. (All the more reason you need to hit 26 homers this year, Byrnesie! That 26th dinger will be the 100th of your career, too!) He has only been caught stealing 15 times, so he has an 85% success rate overall.
Back to the personal bests: Looking at his stats from 2003 on (2003 was the first year he made the Opening Day roster), Eric has the opportunity to set career marks in batting average (now .302; 2004 .283), slugging percentage (now .491; 2006 .482), OBP (now .369; 2004 .347), total bases (now 242; 2006 .71), RBI (now 71; 2006 79), runs (now 78; 2004 91, C’mon, D’Backs, help him out here!) total hits (now 149, only 1 behind his total for last year, 2004 161), triples (now 7; 2003 9), at bats (now 493 2004 569) and outfield assists (now 9; 2004 11).
There’s an outside chance he can still get 27 homers to beat last year’s 26. But between the fact that he isn’t getting the hanging sliders and curves and fastballs that catch too much of the plate that some of his teammates (read: Chris Young) are getting, and Eric’s fouling off some pitches he should have sent into the next county, it’s getting harder to visualize 9 more homers.
Byrnesie has already set new personal bests in walks (now 48; 2004 46) and steals (now 35; 2006 25)
Congratulations, Byrnesie! Keep up the good work and close out hot! The playoffs are within reach and you’re a big reason why that’s the case!
The Milwaukee Brewers, who went into their series with the Diamondbacks playing the worst ball in the majors, have suddenly woken up. Tonight’s 7-4 defeat of the D’Backs, coupled with the Brew Crew’s 9-0 victory yesterday, snapped the Snakes’ series winning streak at 9. Now the D’Backs hope their ace, Brandon Webb can stop the bleeding.
Yesterday’s 9-0 loss was "highlighted" by Jeff Cirillo pitching the 9th inning. This is notable because Augie Ojeda pitched the ninth a few days ago in another blowout. You might see a position player pitch an inning once a year, if that much. When two such players do it within a week, that spells trouble.
Much has been made in the media of the fact that the Diamondbacks have been outscored by their opponents. I haven’t thought that very important because most of those excess runs can be accounted for by blowouts; the team has a very good record in one-run games, a hallmark of winning teams. But in August alone they have lost to San Diego 11-0 (8/2), to Pittsburgh 8-3 (8/7), to Florida 14-5 (8/14) and to Milwaukee 9-0 (8/20). Those scores show a combination of bad pitching and no hitting. To spread those games out across the season would be one thing, but to have a blowout every week, especially to weak teams like Pittsburgh and Florida, and a hitherto slumping team like the Brewers, suggests the Diamondbacks are in trouble. They are lucky that San Diego and L.A. lost today. Sometimes it’s better to be luck than good, but I wouldn’t want to depend on that.
The Eric Byrnes line for today was 3-5 (hits 147-149), 2 runs scored (77 & 78), 1 RBI (71), and 1 stolen base (35). His batting average is up to .302, and one of his hits was a double (25) off the third baseman’s glove. On the negative side, he struck out his first time up (81) and later left two men on base. He’s still stuck at 18 homers while Chris Young smacked homer No. 25 to lead all rookies in MLB. But Young ended the day batting .237, having gone 1-5. The Diamondbacks need a higher average from their lead-off hitter and more power from their No. 3 (Byrnes).
Eric Byrnes is the Arizona Diamondbacks’ for the Henry Aaron Award. Last year’s winners were Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Ryan Howard of the Phillies.
You can vote for the finalists by going to Steve Gilbert’s article: Byrnes Grit Sparks Aaron Nomination
Congratulations on the nomination, Eric!