Not quite the nineteen-run pounding inflicted on the Diamondbacks a couple of days ago in Tucson, was it? Instead, Yusmeiro Petit and four relievers restored some of the respect lost there, combining on a four-hitter against much the same Mexican lineup which had slaughtered Webb and his brave but futile band of brothers on Wednesday.
Looking at the box-score, it seems to have been a typical Petit outing. Three innings pitched, no walks, four strikeouts and only one hit. Of course, that one hit left the ballpark, courtesy of Jorge Cantu. However, as we saw on Sunday, box-scores are a somewhat uncertain way to judge the effectiveness of a pitcher: Three innings of what appears to be one-hit ball by Petit, may well have contained screaming line-drives, fantastic grabs at the wall, batter's interference, and several hitters declared out after inexplicably failing to bat in their proper turn. The Petit Unit's spring ERA, however, sails on oblivious of all this, at a very credible 1.80.
A lot of good performances from the Diamondbacks pitching staff this afternoon. Cesar Valdez was excellent, also pitching three frames and allowing only a single hit, a double to Edgar Gonzalez [No, not that one - this is a second baseman, and not the only confusing name in today's contest, as we'll see later. However, our ex-pitcher threw three shutout innings for Oakland this afternoon]. Valdez also plunked Cantu, which I'm sure was in no way connected to the three hits, two homers and seven runs driven in he'd had against Arizona over the previous five at-bats...
Of particular note was the zero walks allowed by Arizona arms, a sharp contrast to and improvement on the twelve free passes handed out in Wednesday's meltdown. After Valdez, Coutlangus pitched a clean seventh inning; he was followed by Hector Ambriz who allowed a home-run to [and you may want to sit down for this] Ojeda. Oh, hang on: not that one - the Littlest Ballplayer hitting a home-run off anyone would certainly be worthy of note. This is catcher Miguel Ojeda, last seen in the big game with the Texas Rangers, back in 2006. He has fifteen major league homers, rather more than Augie's six. Kyle Newby then retired the Mexicans in order for the ninth and the save, with Valdez getting the W.
Former D-back Elmer Dessens got the loss for the Mexicans - over the pair of contests against us, he allowed seven hits, two walks and three runs in 2.2 innings. It seems he still feels he has to give us something back for the 9-14 record he produced while pitching in Arizona over two seasons. The Diamondbacks were held off the board until the sixth inning, when they tied the game up on a Miguel Montero double that scored Justin Upton. We then went ahead with two in the seventh, Rusty Ryal scoring the decisive run, driven in by Brandon Watson, who in turn came home courtesy of Evan Frey.
Frey also was responsible for our final run, his ninth inning single allowing James Skelton to make the final score 4-2 to Arizona. Skelton had a good day, making the most of a somewhat unfamiliar role as DH. He went 2-for-3 with a walk, while there were also two hits apiece for Frey, Montero and Mark Reynolds. Montero's double was the day's only extra-base hit for Arizona. Justin Upton was successful in stealing second off former Diamondback Rod Barajas, but was also gunned down trying to take third-base. No errors on the defense, which is good to see.
Back to Cactus League action tomorrow, facing the Angels at TEP. Various health issues to note in the meantime. Doug Davis is going to skip his next start, because of what's described as a "left triceps irritation." It's not clear if this is connected to the nerve problem mentioned before his last outing, but they're not sure when he'll be back in action. Said Bob Melvin, "You don't want to put one of your starters in a position in Spring Training, especially early...to try to pitch through it. Therefore, we will be cautious along those lines."
However, Max Scherzer - not yet seen in game action - is on schedule, and is expected to appear in a couple of weeks. With the WBC extension and the lack of a need for a fifth starter until mid-April, it's still anticipated he'll be ready, but the club doesn't want him to throw too many innings before the season anyway. [Anyone notice that this week's episode of Life on Mars used heterochromatic eyes as a plot point?] Finally, Tom Gordon is scheduled to play catch tomorrow, and is looking to get on the mound "early next week," though remains highly doubtful for Opening Day. He said, "When I got here and started playing catch, I realized I wasn't as ready as I thought."
Single-game tickets for the team go on sale tomorrow morning at 9 am. You can buy them from the usual sources, which would be the website, at the various ticket outlets, or by calling 602-514-8400. They're also holding the tryouts for the National Anthem tomorrow at Chase, from 10am until 2pm. Anyone going, please try and remember it's auditions to perform the National Anthem, not appear on American Idol. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Finally, will be catching up on the WBC games this weekend - Taiwan vs. China is on tonight, and there's no less than another ten contests on ESPN, ESPN2 or the MLB Network tomorrow and Sunday. Quite the cornucopia of baseball, beyond even what we get during the playoffs. Looking forward to it.