The Defense Is Offensive

The Arizona Diamondbacks are now out of town for ten days. Ten days, are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how painful the next week and a half are going to be? I’m used to rushing home from work, grabbing my tickets and my seat cushion and running down to Chase Field to make it just in time to get the line-ups entered into my scorebook before first pitch. Now I have nothing to look forward to. Oh sure, the Diamondbacks games are on television and for the most part I enjoy the Fox Sports Arizona coverage but it’s just not the same. It’s especially frustrating with these games only being offered in standard definition. I’ll admit it I am completely spoiled by high definition and I have a hard time getting enthusiastic about watching a baseball game using 20th century resolution. I apologize for sounding like a broken record here but I just do not understand why Fox Sports Arizona broadcasts home games in high definition but away games in standard definition. This is one of those imponderables that rank right up there with why people still think the earth is round. I just don’t get that. After the last two nights I might be forced to rethink my arguments; I am definitely sure I didn’t want to see the first two games of the Milwaukee series in high definition. In fact I am not sure I even wanted to see them in standard definition.

When the Diamondbacks left Chase Field I was hopeful that their woeful play on the road was a May anomaly and not that June had arrived we would be seeing the team that had the best record in April return to the field. Boy was I ever wrong. In game one of the series we were treated to the return of Doug Davis to Miller Park. Davis had some success as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and this game had all the human interest of a puppy trapped in an abandoned well. Things started out pretty good when Justin Upton singled to get on base and Chris Snyder hit a double to score Upton and give the Diamondbacks the lead. I had barely completed that sentence when the game took a strange turn. Prince Fielder singled in the bottom of the second inning landing his lard-encrusted carcass on first. Excuse me I mean his tofu-encrusted carcass. Chris Snyder then allowed a pitch to roll between his legs to the backstop allowing Fielder to rumble down to second base. As I contemplated how that amount of mass actually made it from first to second in a single 24-hour period; Doug Davis decided that if he ignored Fielder he would go away. Well it worked, sort of. Fielder disappeared from second base. Unfortunately he reappeared on third base with a stolen base to his credit. Here is a guy that is listed at 5 foot 11 inches and a svelte 270 pounds (I think that is each leg) that goes from first to third in 4 pitches. Bill Hall then hits a ball to left fielder Chris Burke and just like that the game is tied. I sat there dazed trying to understand what just happened. Thankfully my state of confusion didn’t last as the Diamondbacks scored in the third on a single by Mark Reynolds and again in the top of the seventh on a Chris Snyder home run. The Diamondbacks had a 2-run lead and were only 9 outs away from their third straight win and a good start to the road trip.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Diamondbacks took all the fun out of fundamentals. Doug Davis was back on the mound and gave up a single on an 0-2 pitch that was much too good a pitch to hit. He followed that up with a walk to JJ Hardy. Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin had seen enough and made a pitching change bringing in Chad Qualls. This seemed like a good move. Qualls was well rested and the seventh is typically his inning. He is predominately a ground ball pitcher so a double-play was a very real possibility. Brewers’ catcher Jason Kendall laid down a sacrifice bunt that Qualls fielded. I am not exactly sure who Chad was throwing too but it sure wasn’t Orlando Hudson. The throwing error ended up with everyone safe and the bases were loaded with no outs. Pinch hitter Gabe Kapler hit a routine ground ball to Mark Reynolds that looked like an easy double play. Reynolds threw home to gun down the lead runner but instead of throwing it to Chris Snyder he threw it to Rickie Weeks who was near the on-deck circle for the Brewers. This allowed two runners to score tying the game at 3-3. Miraculously the Diamondbacks were able to recover without any more runs scoring but with the game tied; so much for the great start by Doug Davis. Arizona completed the meltdown when Doug Slaten served up a big veggie burger to Prince Fielder who planted it in centerfield for the game winning run. So in game one of the series the Diamondbacks gave the Brewers a house warming gift win wrapped in a bow.

So Monday’s game was like some B-movie horror flick that was just too funny to be scary; funny in a sick way not in a ha-ha way. Tuesday had to be better didn’t it?

Game 2 featured Randy Johnson on the mound for Arizona. This game had particular significance in that the first strikeout he recorded would put him in sole possession of second place on the all-time strikeout list. It didn’t take long for that to occur when Mike Cameron, the second hitter of the game, struck out. I will give the Milwaukee fans kudos, they gave Randy Johnson a standing ovation to commemorate his accomplishment. Diamondbacks hitters were less than hospitable though as they did not give the Big Unit any support whatsoever. They drove in one measly run on 6 hits. Randy looked very good through 5 innings but stumbled in the 6th allowing a 2 run home run to Ryan Braun to put him behind 2-1. Melvin stuck with Randy in the 7th hoping that the hitters would give him a little more support and allow him to get the win. No such luck and instead the team decided to boot the ball around collecting another two errors. The Brewers scored another two runs in that inning and followed that up with three more in the eighth to win 7-1. So in the first two games the Diamondbacks have 4 runs and 4 errors; probably not the best ratio in the league. They are now again facing a 2-game road losing streak needing a win to keep from being swept again. Something definitely needs to change as there are way too many defensive mis-queues for a team as anemic as this at the plate. Perhaps the Diamondbacks need to forego batting practice tomorrow and instead take extra fielding practice. It’s obvious that batting practice isn’t helping on the road so instead they should devote some time to reviewing the fundamentals and what they should have learned in Spring Training.

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