D-Backs manager A.J. Hinch held a big clubhouse meeting with his players yesterday afternoon, which shouldn't come as a surprise following the team's absolutely embarrassing 5-0 shutout loss to Kansas City on Tuesday night. No press. No other staff. Just the skipper and his crew hashing out one of the most discomforting Diamondbacks losses in recent memory.
Whatever Hinch bellowed at his players during the confab must've gotten through their thick skulls, as the Snakes went out and dismantled the Royals en route to a 12-5 walloping last night.
Max Scherzer had a particularly big task to accomplish during the game, as he was facing off against Zack Greinke, the best pitcher in the American League. While fans and sports scribes alike were hoping this interleague series would've featured Dan Haren (or a returning Brandon Webb, for that matter) against Greinke in a "battle of the aces," Scherzer proved more than capable. The Arizona starting pitcher didn't seem to flinch during his six innings of toeing the rubber, but instead served up a superb performance by striking out five different KC batters with fastballs that were hitting the catcher's mitt at upward of 99 mph. He wasn't even fazed by the pair of runs the Royals scored in both the first and fifth innings. His kith and kin must've been proud, as Maxie (a Missouri boy, born and bred) reportedly had family and friends in the stands.
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For his part, Greinke started out the night by putting on a pitching clinic for the 29,777 fans gathered at Kauffman Stadium, holding his opponents to just one run until the fourth inning, when Arizona broke things open with three runs to go up 4-1. During the seventh, however, things got absolutely ridiculous. Mark Reynolds nailed a two-run dinger against Greinke, which proved to be the pitcher's final pitch of the game. Overall, the AL ace allowed five runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings of work and was dealt his first home loss of 2009.
Whatever bug bit the D-Backs during Tuesday's game, in which they made numerous fielding and catching goofs, moved on to KC's players on Wednesday. And the Snakes were more than happy to capitalize. Case in point: Jose Guillen botched a throw to home in the second during a Chris Young sac-fly, which allowed Miguel Montero to cross the dish.
Is this the end of Arizona's woes? Was yesterday's meeting the catalyst that our hometown heroes needed to finally turn things around? Based on their history, probably not, but tune in tonight for the rubber game of the series just in case. Haren (5-4, 2.20 ERA) goes against Luke Hochevar (2-2, 5.60). First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. For more info, visit www.dbacks.com.