Please Keep Your Hands Inside the Car at All Times

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks has been the inconsistency displayed by the team. There will be games when the players are all on the same page and look like the team that went to the National League Championship Series in 2007. On other nights the players look like they have never seen a baseball let alone played in a major league game. With this inconsistency comes a roller coaster ride of wins and losses.

It is not just the losing that is frustrating; it is how the Diamondbacks lose the games. Take for example the first game against the San Francisco Giants during this series. The Diamondbacks had numerous opportunities to drive in runs and take that game from a scuffling San Francisco club. Instead Arizona committed three errors including a throwing error in the eighth inning that allowed the Giants to score the ultimate winning run.

On paper the second game of the series definitely favored the visiting team. The Giants sent Matt Cain to the mound to face Doug Davis and the Arizona Diamondbacks. I had already braced myself for another long night at the ballpark. Doug Davis works deliberately on the mound so I expected the innings to drag on.

A long game is not necessarily a bad thing. After all it means I am at Chase Field for longer and since there are only four more home games this season I am looking for any excuse I can find to spend more time at the ballpark.

What I was not prepared to deal with was another lack of concentration by the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s hard to watch the errors night after night knowing that the players are capable of so much more. Like the proverbial roller coaster, this game would have its ups and downs and would even through in an occasional inverted loop just to get the adrenaline pumping.

The game started similarly to many others this season. The Giants plated a run in the first inning the result of Mark Reynolds giving up on a ground ball that resulted in a double down the left field line. The run scored on a wild pitch by Doug Davis to give the Giants the lead. Already the roller coaster had left the station and our ride began with a dive down into the dirt.

In the second inning the Giants would add on two more runs on a triple by pitcher Matt Cain who had only eight hits the entire season and only one extra base hit (a double). With the Diamondbacks down 3-0 in just the second inning I started getting that nauseous feeling I get after eating three hot dogs then riding the Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Universal Studios.

The bottom of the second the Diamondbacks rallied scoring three runs on consecutive hits and a little base running luck when Cain threw a wild pitch. Suddenly the ride started to gain some speed.

The butterflies once again surfaced in the third inning when the Giants took the lead. After a lead-off triple by Andres Torres, Pablo Sandoval singled to right allowing Torres to score. Clearly this ride was going to be longer and scarier than I had first anticipated.

The bottom of the third was kind of like being at the top of the large climb on a roller coaster. You gaze down at the other side and think there is no way you are going to survive a fall from this height. I’m not positive but I could have sworn that I looked around the stands and saw people sitting with their hands in the air getting ready for the descent.

It started off simple enough with a single by Stephen Drew. That was followed by a ground rule double by Justin Upton to put runners on second and third. Miguel Montero singled to center scoring Drew and Upton.

Mark Reynolds struck out tying the Major League single-season record for strikeouts. Left fielder Gerardo Parra hit what appeared to be a home run into the pool area but after reviewing instant replay, the umpires ruled it a ground rule double. They did allow Montero to score from first deciding he would have been able to score had the play been called correctly at the onset. Obviously they have not seen Montero run the bases but the Diamondbacks were not about to argue.

The inning did not end there, Second baseman Rusty Ryal walked and Brandon Allen hit a single to score Parra. Pitcher Doug Davis laid down a perfect bunt to third that he beat out to load the bases. Giants reliever Waldis Joaquin threw a wild pitch that allowed Ryal to score. Young subsequently walked to load the bases.

Drew came up for the second time this inning and hit a sacrifice fly scoring Brandon Allen. Upton hit a single to centerfield for his second hit of the inning. Finally the inning ended with Montero flying out to right. The Diamondbacks sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs to lead 9-4.

At this point you figured you had survived the worst this roller coaster had to offer. Just when you started to relax the ride began to pick up speed. In the seventh inning the door to the Giants bullpen opened, actually during this game it was more of a revolving door that was in constant motion.

From the right field bullpen emerged a giant of a Giant. Randy Johnson walked from the bullpen to the resounding applause of the Chase Field crowd. For the first time that I can remember, Johnson took the mound as a member of the opposing team. He had previously been with the opposing team while with the Astros in 1998 and earlier this season with the Giants but in neither case did he pitch,

Gerardo Parra was the first Diamondbacks player to face Randy Johnson and the result was familiar to many left handers, a strikeout. Second baseman Rusty Ryal hit a home run to left field extending the Diamondbacks lead. Johnson fanned Brandon Allen and Doug Davis to end the inning adding three more strikeouts to his already impressive resume.

With a 10-4 lead all that was left was six quick outs and we could get off this roller coaster. Instead the Diamondbacks decided to make the ride a little more exciting. The Giants scored a run in the eighth inning when Brandon Allen could not turn a double play. Arizona closer Juan Gutierrez came in the ninth inning in a non-save situation and gave up three runs closing the gap to 10-8 before finally retiring Ryan Garko on a fly ball to left field.

The dazed fans gingerly exited Chase Field, their stomachs rolling from the experience. I cannot be certain but I thought I saw a few people throwing up in garbage cans on the concourse as they left the ride. Kids excitedly asked their parents if they could ride it again while the adults wanted nothing to do with a ride like that again.


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