Darwin, Australia----Perhaps spurred by the clubhouse rancor between veterans Chipper Jones and John Smoltz, the host Finches put a painful amount of offense up at the expense of the visiting Arizona D-Backs, scoring 23 runs in a doubleheader that pushed the Unnatural Selection back to the top in the ever-competitive Eastern Division.
In the opener, David Ortiz hit two of the Finches’ four round-trippers, including a three-run shot that hastened an early exit for rookie Cole Hamels (2-3, 6.54). They were the 23rd and 24th shots of the year for Ortiz, who leads all BARB batters in the home run department. Ortiz hit his second shot against rookie Dustin Nippert, and Lance Berkman and Billy Hall both took rookie Mike Pelfrey deep to make things a breeze for Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.58) who cruised through seven frames for an easy 12-2 win.
Ortiz was reflective discussing his batting heroics after the contests. "I think," mused ‘Big Papi’, "that they made some bad pitches, and we were able to take advantage. But those kids, they have some big time arms, and they aren’t as bad as they might have looked, you know? They have a young team, again—they keep changing things on that club—some time, they should stick with some of their young players—what can I say?"
In the nightcap, it was Chipper Jones’ time to shine. Jones, who is feuding bitterly with Smoltz, walked to trigger a five-run first against newcomer Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-2, 9.95) who was chased by Eric Chavez’s 4th homer of the year. Jones later hit solo shots against relievers Oscar Villanueva and (on for more punishment) Nippert, such that Kelvim Escobar (7-2, 3.95) had a 10-1 lead after four frames. Owch! Escobar would end up going the whole way on just 83 pitches, only the second complete game of the entire season for the Finches as a club.
Manager P.Z. Myers angrily chastised reporters who mentioned this low total in a brief but fiery press conference. "You guys would burn me at the stake if you could," Myers intoned. "But we’re winning, aren’t we? Our bullpen’s the strength of this club, and I’m going to use it! I could care less about how many complete games these other clubs have."
In other BARB action:
BLACK MESA 6, WORCESTER 3 (10 innings)
WP: John Maine (4-7, 4.37)
LP: Chris Young (4-4, 4.60)
The Anomalies came out on top in a pitcher’s duel with former teammate Chris Young, as both teams went into the tenth tied 2-2 and their starters on the mound. It was Garret Atkins’ wild throw with one down that ended up triggering a big inning, as the Anomalies scored three times in the top of the frame, then held on to for the win.
BROOKLYN 5, SAN JOSE 4
WP: Damaso Marte (2-2, 7.59)
LP: Aaron Harang (2-6, 5.96)
SV: Rodriguez (11)
Aaron Harang and Andy Pettite put up matching zero’s for seven innings, then the Rockets knocked out Pettite with a two-run eighth, only to see Harang and Bobby Jenks come unglued, as the Moabs (historically dangerous in the late innings) scored five runs in the bottom of the inning, then held on against three Moabs relievers to inch a little closer (30-31) to the .500 mark in the East. Despite having scored more runs than any other East team, the Moabs are still last in the division. As for the Rockets? It was the fifth straight loss for the club, which is now 14 and a half games out....
LAS VEGAS 4, POTTSYLVANIA 2
WP: Derek Lowe (6-3, 3.46)
LP: Braden Looper (6-5, 4.59)
Derek Lowe scattered seven hits over nine innings and the Luchadores won for the eighth time in their last ten games, sending the defending Central champ Creepers deeper into the lower division. Alfonso Soriano hit his tenth home run of the year off Looper, and managed to avoid any more throwing errors after committing fielding gaffes in six previous games. Many observers feel that, based upon his play in the field, that the Flamingoes would be better off with a sure-handed infielder at second, but where to play Soriano? As it is, the crowded roster of Vegas bats isn’t getting regular playing time for Prince Fielder or J.J. Hardy!
YUMA 2, FROSTBITE FALLS 1
WP: Rafael Soriano (3-3, 3.52)
LP: Scott Linebrink (0-1, 5.63)
SV: Otsuka (12)
Bronson Arroyo matched Carlos Zambrano pitch for pitch, as well as vowel for vowel, but in the end it was a former Squirrel doing the job for the Firebirds in relief (Soriano) and the ex-Yuman (Linebrink) who faltered when, after an error by Iguchi, the setup man served up a fat pitch to Raul Ibanez, who went yard for his eighth homer of the year, and the third off Yuma’s bench.