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Boos from a two-thirds-empty Chase Field rained down upon the once-beloved Eric Byrnes as he walked to the plate in the fourth inning Wednesday afternoon in the rubber game and series finale 9-2 loss against the Colorado Rockies.
Byrnes, who wowed Arizona fans in 2007 after becoming one of only 19 major-leaguers in history to hit 20 homers and steal 50 bases in a season, has been pretty much dogmeat since Opening Day of 2008. Last season, after cashing in on his career year, the left-fielder was either on the disabled list with two bad hamstrings or on the D-Backs fans' shit list, neither stealing bases nor hitting home runs (or even getting on base, for that matter).
Anyway, with the D-Backs trailing 4-1 in the fourth and free-swinging Mark Reynolds on first base after a lead-off single, Byrnes swung at a first-pitch fastball by unintimidating lefty Franklin Morales, popping the ball high into the foul territory behind home plate for the first out of the inning. More boos. Morales, the number three starter on an unimpressive Rockies staff, quickly set down the next two hitters. In 2008, the 23-year-old pitcher struck out just over three batters per nine innings pitched. On Wednesday, Morales, K'd six D-Backs in six innings of four-hit ball. Really, his only mistake of the game was a first-inning home run to Stephen Drew, one of just a couple of D-Backs to make some noise in this opening week.
After Monday's Opening Day offensive explosion, the D-Backs have appeared uninspired and anemic during the past two games. After Drew's solo shot in the first, the D-Backs were virtually shut down until a gimme run in the ninth inning. After three games, right-fielder Justin Upton and Byrnes are hitless. Catcher Chris Snyder and center-fielder Chris Young have just one hit each. Oh, yeah, and there were those seven strikeouts Wednesday, including two from the usually K-less Conor Jackson.
Starting pitcher Doug Davis gave up a homer to rookie Rockie Dexter Fowler on the first pitch of the game, and he looked shaky in the third inning, giving up three runs. After that, the soft-throwing left-hander settled down for two more innings, but the D-Back offense never came to his rescue. Billy Buckner relieved Davis in the sixth but let the game get out of hand in the seventh, giving up back-to-back homers to light-hitting backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba and bigtime slugger-to-be infielder Ian Stewart.
But, wait, that's not all. Besides losing two in a row, it appears ace Brandon Webb, who was shelled Monday, will miss his next start because of shoulder stiffness. Expect Yusmiero Petit to attempt to fill his shoes. Without Webb, the D-Backs are a less-than-formidable team.
Byrnes had appeared Wednesday morning on Colin Cowherd's syndicated radio show The Herd on KTAR 620-AM. The charismatic, outspoken, and media-savvy outfielder told Cowherd that he knows he's on the hot seat in Phoenix. He even said that he can't listen to local sports talk radio anymore because he can't stand to hear himself "get buried. I'll just keep listening to you, Colin."
"Byrnesie" also said he understands when fans boo a player who's playing under a lucrative contract yet is underperforming. That's good that he does understand it, because with his being paid $11 million this year and next, he's gonna hear a lot more boos. The guy looks done.
Another NL West rival, the Dodgers, come to town on Friday for a 6:40 p.m. game. New acquisition Jon Garland will battle L.A. rookie James McDonald. Check out www.dbacks.com for more info.
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