We have learned this nearly a third of the way through the 2010 Major Leagaue Baseball season: No
lead is safe with this year's edition of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Last night's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers might just be the most painfully ludicrous loss to date, a 5-4 defeat that included a walk-off balk by relief pitcher Esmerling Vasquez.
The word "relief" is a true oxymoron when referring to the D-Backs' bullpen.
Arizona was up by 4-0 early, and still led 4-2 going into the bottom of the eighth on some sweet pitching by starter Rodrigo Lopez, who really can be crafty.
But a double error, fielding and then throwing, by second baseman Kelly Johnson with two out allowed the home team to tie the game, and then win it in highly unusual fashion one inning later.
A dreaded leadoff walk to James Loney began the ninth inning. But after Casey Blake's single, Loney ran himself out of being the potential winning run with a foolhardy attempt to get to third base on a delayed steal.
Blake went on to single during the Loney rundown and moved to third on a groundout.
Vasquez then imploded, apparently affected by Blake's gyrations on third -- typical stuff, actually -- and clearly balked (moving both of his legs while on the pitching rubber going into his stretch).
Arizona's beleaguered manager A.J. Hinch didn't argue the call because he was watching the same game as everyone else.
A balk is a balk.
The locals dropped to 20-32 overall, last by a long way in the NL West.
In a season of lost chances, this one goes to the top of the list -- so far.
No, it didn't hurt nearly as much as another Phoenix team's recent loss to a bunch of L.A. boys (see Phoenix Suns and LA Lakers), but, wow...
The series continues tonight at beautiful Chavez Ravine, with the opening pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. The game will be televised on FSAZ (Channel 34), with radio stations KTAR-AM (620) and KSUN-AM (1400) also carrying it. For more details, go to www.diamondbacks.com