Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 4:37 p.m.
It appeared as if it would be more of the same Wednesday as the weak-hitting Arizona Diamondbacks failed to help out their de facto ace, Dan "Hard Luck" Haren. The righty (whose 1.89 ERA entering the game was ninth-best in baseball among starters) was dealing for six innings, keeping the Colorado Rockies scoreless, but the meager offense also was held scoreless.
Finally, in the seventh inning, the D-Backs broke through when Ryan Roberts, pinch-hitting for Haren, ripped a single into center field, scoring Chris Young, who'd led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a Chris Snyder hit. The D-Backs tacked on another run, and relievers Tony Peña and Chad Qualls mowed down the Rockies in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve a 2-0 win (and the D-Backs' first series win of the young season).
With the D-Backs position players amassing just one hit up to that point (Haren had another, a single in the fifth), it looked as if manager Bob Melvin could've left Haren in the game to bat for himself in the 7th. Of course, Melvin made the right call, thanks to Roberts.
Haren, who lowered his ERA to 1.38 in his first win of the season, has kicked ass in his four starts, but the inconsistent lineup has been virtually absent in those starts. On Wednesday, he struck out nine Rockies and proved that he's the man the D-Backs will be leaning on with ace Brandon Webb on the disabled list for at least two more weeks.
Fifteen games into the season, what else can you say about the lineup? Outside of new second baseman Felipe Lopez and, to some extent, slugging-but-streaky third baseman Mark Reynolds, it's flat-out terrible.
Take a look at some of the guys who are hitting .200 or less: Stephen Drew (struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh), Chris Snyder (a single Wednesday raised his average to .115 -- woo-hoo!), Eric Byrnes (if it weren't for Justin Upton's failings, the $10 million man Byrnes would be a back-up player), Conor Jackson (who just missed a home run in the third), and Chris Young (his one hit Wednesday put him at .211).
Those averages are simply brutal, and these guys made Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (lifetime ERA of 5.52) look like a stud on Wednesday. After six innings, the free-swinging D-Backs had forced De La Rosa to toss just 80 pitches.
Hey, a win is a win, and the D-Backs are 6-9 overall, 5-7 in the so-so NL West, where anything can happen, as they say.
The D-Backs are off Thursday to work on those swings. Then, the San Francisco Giants come to Phoenix for yet another home series at Chase Field. Like the D-Backs, the Giants (still in a post-Barry Bonds rebuilding mode) are all pitch/no hit, as they proved against the D-Backs last weekend in S.F., where both teams combined to score a total of six runs in three games. If you like pitchers' duels, you'll love this series.
Last year's NL Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum, takes the mound for the Giants on Saturday and former D-Back Randy Johnson, who one-hit the D-Backs last Sunday, will pitch for the Giants this Sunday.
Friday: Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 3.97) vs. Doug Davis (1-2, 2.57), 6:40 p.m. TV: FSN-Arizona.
Saturday: Tim Lincecum (0-1, 3.86) vs. Max Scherzer (0-1, 3.60), 5:10 p.m. TV: FSN-Arizona.
Sunday: Randy Johnson (1-2, 6.32) vs. Jon Garland (2-1, 5.71), 1:10 p.m. TV: FSN-Arizona.