There's one word to sum up the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2009 season thus far: Exasperation.
While the emotion has been brewing amongst players and fans since the second game of the year against the Colorado Rockies -- when the Snakes began their infuriating tendency of squandering decent pitching with woefully-inconsistent offense -- said consternation came to a head after the squad lost its weekend series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Field. It was a battle of the NL West basement-dwellers.
Local sports jocks were speechless when explaining how the D-Backs could only muster two runs for the series after scoring back-to-back seven-run games against the St. Louis Cardinals last week. The D-Backs faithful have been demanding manager Bob Melvin's head. And some players (whose names don't end in "Byrnes") have started acting out.
Just witness the hissy fit thrown by Dan Haren during Friday's 2-0 loss. The beleaguered starting pitcher (whose woeful 0-3 record is contradicted by a stunning 1.89 ERA) posted a solid outing in the game, allowing one run and five hits in six innings. The feat was negated by non-existent support from his teammates, however. And when Haren was pulled during the seventh in favor of pinch-hitter Tony Clark (in an attempt to bring home runners on first and second), the pitcher tossed his helmet across the dugout and spent the rest of the game sulking in his red hoodie. It's something of a travesty that Haren could instead be 3-0 right now, if it weren't for his team's fetid offense.
The lack of run support almost cost the D-Backs their lone win of the series on Saturday, as Doug Davis pitched an eight-inning shutout, striking out six Giants in the process. He was matched round-for-round by San Francisco lefty ace Tim Lincecum, who blanked Arizona players with a five-hit shutout through the eight frames and racked up 13 K's. The game remained scoreless until Chris Young banged a double and drove home pinch runner Eric Byrnes and Mark Reynolds, giving our boys the 2-0 win.
But that would be their only runs of the series, thanks in part to a stunning pitching performance by the ex-Diamondback Randy Johnson during the rubber game on Sunday. The Big Unit (1-2) rebounded from two hard losses earlier in the month by unleashing his customary arsenal of sliders and heaters while facing off against his former team for the first time ever, earning a no-hitter through the seventh and helping the Giants to another 2-0 victory in the series. (Johnson also nabbed his 296th career victory.) Meanwhile, Max Scherzer (0-0) struggled to shut out San Fran through five, allowing just one run in the fourth as Randy Winn scored off a Travis Ishikawa sac-fly with the bases loaded. The "Jints" added an insurance run later in the eighth against the beleaguered D-Back bullpen.
San Franscico (4-7), which had the worst record in the division prior to the weekend, traded their position as NL West basement dwellers with the Diamondbacks after the series win. But the D-Backs (4-8) have the chance to resurrect things starting tonight when they kick off a nine-game home stand against the Colorado Rockies (4-7). The Mile High City sluggers are coming to Chase Field on a three-game losing streak after getting swept by the Dodgers over the weekend, and hopefully Arizona can do what they didn't do to the Giants, and take advantage of the bruised egos of their opponents. It's also a perfect opportunity to get revenge on the Rockies for thumping them during that abysmal season-opening series. To do so, however, the Snakes will have to do what they haven't been able to, which is finding ways to score runs against such tough pitchers as Jason Marquis, who's gotten wins against the Cubs and the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. Haren will also get another go at notching his first win.
The scheduled pitching line-up for the three-game series is as follows:
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Tonight @ 6:40 p.m.: The Diamonbacks' Jon Garland, (1-1, 8.44 ERA) vs. Colorado's Jason Marquis (2-0, 1.93 ERA). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620.
Tuesday @ 6:40 p.m.: The Diamonbacks' Yusmeiro Petit, (0-1, 7.71 ERA) vs. Colorado's Franklin Morales, (1-0, 1.50). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620.
Wednesday @ 12:40 p.m.: The Diamonbacks' Dan Haren (0-3, 1.89) vs. Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 4.50). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620.
For tickets and more, visit www.dbacks.com.