Nomar Home Runs!

The Diamondbacks find themselves in the same position they were in the San Diego series. After losing the first game they came back on a fine pitching performance by Miguel Batista to take game 2 by the score of 9-3. This meant that today’s game would be the deciding factor for this series. The Diamondbacks sent out Livan Hernandez to the mound to face Hong-Chih Kuo whose record for the season is 1-5 with a 4.12 ERA. This match-up definitely would favor the Diamondbacks and would allow them to pick up a game on the Dodgers and help the Padres at the same time. Afternoon games at Dodger Stadium usually means the ball travels a little better so hopefully that would help the Diamondbacks hitters take advantage of Hong-Chih.

With an ERA of over 4 you fully expected that the Diamondbacks would be patient in their approach and work the pitcher into deep counts. That hasn’t been the Diamondbacks mode of operation though. They have for most of the year been fairly aggressive at the plate and today was no exception. This led to a lot of quick outs swinging at borderline pitches. The game evolved into a pitchers dual between Kuo and Hernandez. The Diamondbacks struck first when Carlos Quentin doubled to center after Stephen Drew walked and Chris Snyder reached base on Betemit’s error. The run came with two outs to give the visiting team the lead. That lead lasted until the fifth inning when pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo doubled to left field and then scored on a single by Kenny Lofton. Both pitching staffs settled down and the game remained tied going into the ninth inning. The Dodgers brought in their closer Takashi Saito who retired Craig Counsell on a fly ball then struck out Stephen Drew and Chris Snyder. The Diamondbacks allowed pitcher Luis Vizcaino to stay in the game after he threw a perfect eighth inning.

The bottom of the ninth started with Marlon Anderson singling in front of Eric Byrnes in center. Russell Martin moved the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt meaning the winning run was now in scoring position with one out. Oscar Robles came up and grounded out to second base and Anderson moved to third. The Diamondbacks were one out away from sending this game into extra innings and the Dodgers had already used their closer so the advantage went to Arizona. Raphael Furcal was intentionally walked to get to Kenny Lofton. Furcal went to second but was not given a stolen base since the Diamondbacks were not holding him on. Vizcaino let the inning get to him and walked Lofton after getting a full count. Arizona was one strike away from extra innings and now they faced the bases loaded with Nomar Garciaparra at the plate. Vizcaino got sloppy and fell behind in the count 2-1. Still, Garciaparra has an injured quadriceps muscle so it looked as though they would get out of this inning without any damage. After all, Nomar was 0-3 in this game. But then Vizcaino did the impossible, he threw a pitch that was way too good to even up the count and Nomar planted the ball in the centerfield seats for a walk-off grand slam. In a single moment the Diamondbacks went from having the advantage to leaving Dodger stadium with yet another late inning loss. If each of the remaining games is a tryout for the pitching staff to make a case for why they should be with the team next season, Luis Vizcaino just put himself squarely on the bubble. The win by Los Angeles also gave them the season series victory beating the Diamondbacks 5 games to 4. The Dodgers had a record of 3-3 at Chase Field and a record of 2-1 at Dodger Stadium. Maybe there’s something to this home field advantage thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *