D-backs 5, Rockies 3: The beat goes on

MLB Florida and Arizona Spring Training - SB Nation

Having gone 15-3 against Colorado during the regular season last year, there was no team that Arizona enjoyed facing more. And there was more of the same for our divisional rivals today, because the Diamondbacks started 2009 in exactly the same way they finished 2008: by beating the Rockies in front of a 3,327 crowd at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. Chris Young had two hits, including a two-run homer, and seemed to enjoy his time batting in the three-spot, while Hector Ambriz pitched two scoreless innings and took the first W of the season.

It was, naturally, a typical early spring-training game, i.e. it was more like little league, with everyone getting their turns, at bat and in the field. Arizona used 19 position players, Colorado 18, and beyond that the teams combined to use thirteen different pitchers. That's a grand total of fifty players between the lines, and most of the Arizonans with recognizable names were gone before the game reached the half-way mark. The box-score will shortly be available as a paperback.

Hard to draw any meaningful conclusions. I do note that Augie Ojeda was on base twice, with a walk immediately before Young's bomb, and a double, while the Rockies pitchers seemed to be more than a little wild, hitting three Diamondbacks hitters. However, it appears the first two - Miguel Montero and Juston Upton - were merely slightly grazed, and only the third, John Hester was truly plunked. And since you've never heard of him, it's no big. Arizona should probably have scored some more runs, most notably in the seventh, where they loaded the bases with no outs. However, Parra (lineout), Whitesell (K) and Carlin (groundout) did nothing, apparently forgetting the new, 2009 D-backs are supposed to be better than that...

The intention to make more use of the running-game was apparent in stolen base attempts by Chris Roberson and Ryan Roberts - the former succeeded, the latter didn't. Defensively, short-stop Pedro Ciriaco didn't exactly make a glowing first impression, throwing two balls away, and reports suggest Upton didn't do too well on an Ianetta double to right. On the other hand, Gerardo Parra won the battle of the outfield prospects, nailing former D-back Carlos Gonzalez at the plate as he tried to come home on a sacrifice fly.

Pitching-wise, Ambriz probably did deserve the win. Buckner allowed three hits, a walk and a run in his two innings, fanning two; Gutierrez had three hits, no walks and two earned runs over his two frames, also with two strikeouts. After Ambriz's two shutout innings, Vasquez, Valdez and Rosales each posted a zero, though the first-named definitely has Ciriano to blame and Parra to thank for that. Rosales was the only one of the trio to post a 1-2-3 inning.

Few things are less meaningful than the first game of spring training, but better to win it than to lose it. I must confess I had to suppress a smirk as the much-touted Dodgers offense was held to three runs in Mesa - no Manny Ramirez present there, of course. Meanwhile, the 'best in division' pitching staff of the Giants coughed up seven runs against Cleveland, though D-backs reject Brandon Medders still got the win. On the East coast, almost a shocker as Boston College led the Red Sox in the middle of the fifth inning, before another ex-Arizonan, Chris Carter had a bases-clearing double as part of a six-run Sox outburst.

I should warn you against expecting this level of in-depth coverage every day during spring training. Odds are more likely that I'll do an evening recap, covering the day's game, but there'll be no formal Gameday Thread as such. However, I think most of us were just so overjoyed to see the players we love on the field, that playing hooky for Opening Day can be forgiven!

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