Arizona went into the 8th innings with a 4-3 lead in this one but Kyler Newby and Jailen Peguero allowed seven runs in the final two innings, to hand the Cubs victory on a plate. Newby was particularly unimpressive, allowing homers at a rate which would impress Yusmeiro Petit: three of the six batters he faced went yard, accounting for four runs. He only retired two batters and had to be bailed out by Clay Zavada, who retired the final hitter. Peguero fared little better, though did at least keep the ball in the park: however, Chicago rapped out five hits in the ninth, leading to three more runs.
I can't say I mind this kind of defeat too much. It doesn't mean a great deal, since those responsible will likely not be seeing the 25-man roster on Opening Day - and, in Newby's case, probably not for the entire season. What's more important is what happened earlier, with Brandon Webb basically coming one pitch away from tossing four shutout innings. Our ace only hit trouble once, in the third where he allowed a two-out single, followed by a walk - and then, unfortunately, a first-pitch home-run to Micah Hoffpauir, that spoiled an otherwise effective afternoon. Bob Melvin was certainly impressed, saying "I thought he threw the ball as well as he has all spring. I thought he threw inside better, and his breaking stuff looked better." The final tally: four hits, two walks, three runs and four K's in four innings.
Arizona came right back in the bottom half of the inning, however, matching the Cubs by scoring three runs of their own. Snyder broke up Harden's perfect game to that point with a lead-off homer, and we took advantage of some subsequent wildness from the Cubs pitcher, who walked three in the frame, including one with the bases loaded. Justin Upton also had an RBI double to help tie things up. After Webb left the game, we got some effective relief: Chad Qualls, Leo Rosales and Esmerling Vasquez combined for three innings of one-hit ball, striking out four Cubs. And Mark Reynolds gave Arizona the lead in the sixth with a long bomb to left, his first of the spring. However, it didn't last long after Newby took the mound... James Skelton was the only Diamondbacks to have much success at the plate, getting a pair of hits.
Elsewhere, Conor Jackson is not worried about power. "If it comes, it comes. If it doesn't, I think a team is still going to want a guy who hits .300, has a high on-base percentage and still drives in his runs. I can still be productive without hitting home runs." He reckons that his power-outage in the second-half of last season was mostly a mental thing, saying "I think you try to do a little too much when you start getting in a slump and you're not hitting home runs," he said. "That's just not my game... I need to implant that in my head... When I'm trying to hit a line drive in the gap or a line drive up the middle, that's when good things happen."
Good crowd yesterday in Tucson, 11,455 - basically, standing-room only at Tucson Electric Park - for the game against the Cubs. However, if you're able to take in a game during the week, there are now some smoking deals to be held, with plenty of two-for-ones and 50% off those weekday games. These promotions are available for online purchase using the promo code "CACTUS". Unsurprisingly, probably the best deals are to be had for the outlying stadiums at Goodyear and Surprise, so if you want to see the Royals, Rangers or Indians, now's your chance, though best not be too picky over who they're facing. If I didn't have rather too much to do today, we'd probably be taking advantage.
Tomorrow should be a significant day for our injured warriors, possibly seeing the return of both Eric Byrnes and Max Scherzer to the fold. The former appeared in a minor-league game on a backfield yesterday, and went 3-for-5 with a walk and a stolen-base, apparently going basically full-throttle. Byrnes said afterwards, "I thought it went very well... It felt really comfortable. As the game went on I felt even more comfortable. It was really awkward to be out there for the first time in a few months. There were a few things that felt a little foreign." Of course, we've all learned to take Byrnes' pronouncements on his health with a grain of salt over the past year... [And here we go: Byrnes' return to Diamondbacks delayed. Looks like it'll now be Friday before he sees full action]
And that'll do for here: Community Projections for our pitchers to follow later today, along with a report on this afternoon's game against the Rockies at TEP.