Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Series Preview: More Arizona
2006-04-11 16:35
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Feels like we just played these guys. Seriously, the unbalanced schedule in baseball has got to go, or at least be slightly less unbalanced. I believe that if there's going to be interleague play, you might as well go all out and have everyone play everyone. That way you could even out the divisions (by moving Houston to the AL West) and get rid of the annoying discrepancies between everyone's interleague schedules. Of course, you'd still have to allow for the "rivalry" series, meaning the White Sox and Cubs, Mets and Yankees, Dodgers and Angels would still get their home-and-homes. So it wouldn't be perfect. But it'd be better than playing San Diego and Arizona each 20 times a year.

The story hasn't changed for the Diamondbacks at all in a week. They're still curiously constructed, but dangerous if you don't take them seriously. Oddly it may be in everyone else in the division's best interests for them to continue plugging along at .500, delaying a full-blown youth movement and preventing the trade of a veteran hitter for young pitching that would make them really nasty a year or two down the line. In the meantime, to beat them, you don't beat yourself. Their pitching can be hit if you're patient, and there's holes in the lineup if you take your time and exploit them. Arizona is a team that Colorado should take series from regularly if they really want to scale to the heights of .500-ness.

In the game tonight Colorado again draws Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who bedeviled them a week ago at Coors Field. The Diamondbacks (3-3) have played the same number of games as the 4-2 Rockies so Aaron Cook will be pitching for Colorado in a rematch of last Wednesday's 4-2 loss. This is a big game as we'll get a chance to see if the ridiculous offense produced in the San Diego series carries over any. Arizona's middle relief is certainly as much if not more vulnerable than the Padres' group. The Rockies couldn't score off Hernandez last time around, but they did manage to get him to throw a lot of pitches and leave the game after only five innings. Then their big sin was allowing the likes of Greg Aquino, Brandon Lyon, Luis Vizcaino, Jose Valverde, and Terry Mulholland to run roughshod over them. Never again! Miguel Batista struck out a ton of guys in his start against the Rockies last Thursday and he will draw the assignment against Jeff Francis on Wednesday, another rematch. Francis needs to rebound after a miserable season debut. The Thursday night game this week features Russ Ortiz, who is terrible, and Josh Fogg, who ought to again receive plenty of run support. At 1,090 feet Chase Field has the second-highest altitude in the majors, so the Rockies' staff ought to feel right at home.

Who's hot for the Diamondbacks: Luis "O.G." Gonzalez (7 for 24, two homers, three doubles), Conor Jackson (5 for 14, 7 walks), Damion Easley (a homer, a double, and two singles in 11 ABs). Who's not: Orlando Hudson (.174 average, one extra base hit), Johnny Estrada (.393 OPS), Shawn Green (two singles in sixteen ABs). Who's hot for the Rockies: everybody except Danny Ardoin. Colorado ought to win two of three here, especially with the gift-wrapped Russ Ortiz start. If Jeff Francis can find his way, then we can start getting really excited.

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