Glenn Enright started and went three innings for the Diamondbacks, allowing four hits with two strikeouts and no walks. -- Arizona Republic
Hang on: since when did our rotation feature Enright and Tony Barnette? Because that's who has started the last couple of games for Arizona: Doug Davis and Max Scherzer apparently opted to pitch down in Tucson, "rather than make the trip to Phoenix." Oh, the poor things... :-) Scherzer, I can somewhat understand, since he isn't due to appear for another ten days, but Doug will have to make it up to Phoenix by Wednesday, for his next start - so really, he's only putting it off. More importantly: if the Diamondbacks are going to charge regular-season prices for these games (which they appear to do) and force season-ticket holders to buy them (which they certainly do), then is it too much to ask the real players to come up from Tucson? [Davis allowed five earned runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings; Scherzer two runs, two hits and three walks in five frames. Each had seven K's.]
Heck, it's not as if we are hiding Davis from the opposition: for the fourth consecutive season, we will not be playing the White Sox again, unless both of us make the World Series. This is no knock on Enright: he hasn't seen action above High-A, yet did a better job of keeping the White Sox in check than certain 25-man roster pitchers we could mention [and will in due course, trust me]. But the Republc report above couldn't even get his name right: it's Barry, not Glenn. Still, three shutout innings, on four hits, with no walks and two strikeouts, against what looks basically like a full-strength White Sox lineup, with names like Thome, Konerko and The Player Not To Be Named. Good work, Bazza.
Tips of the SnakePit hat also go to Juan Gutierrez (a scoreless fourth, and apparently looked really good doing it), Chad Qualls (a perfect sixth - we may be seeing more splitters from him) and Josh Ellis (a zero in the ninth). Now, let's talk about the other three innings, shall we? Scott Schoeneweis: two hits, a walk and two runs in the fifth. And, oh, look: the three RHB reached safely, while GoodWhite retired all three LHB he faced. 'Skins, I hope you have an appropriate diagram ready for use on Monday. Tony Peña: two hits and an earned run in the seventh. Yusmeiro Petit allowed six hits, three runs, all earned, during the eighth - it'd have been worse but for a good catch by Chris Young to end things with the bases loaded. Look, guys: it's Opening Day on Monday. Time for the gurgling vortex of bullpen suckage to be turned off.
It's got to the stage where I find myself praying for the quick return of Tom Gordon, who has been "grabbing the attention of his teammates with the quality of his performance." Which scares me. Speaking of thing that strike fear into my heart as a Diamondbacks supporter: Jon Rauch, who wants fans to know, "the situation is not as bad as it looks." Oh, we know that, Jon: it couldn't possibly be as bad as the situation looks. Here's the reasons why this is apparently not the case:
Rauch said early in the spring he did not throw any off-speed pitches so that he could focus on the cutter. "And obviously when you put yourself in a position where you're throwing all hard stuff, the hitters know what to expect and the next thing you know, you're giving up runs," Rauch said... "Spring Training is one thing, especially when you're facing No. 97 and 78. They know you're going to be in the strike zone and they're hacking big time. You don't know anything about them, whereas during the season, you have oodles of video and countless scouting reports to go off of and you have a plan before you get into the game."
Why am I not quite filled with confidence by these pronouncements? Still, it seems Rauch's job as set-up man is safe for the moment. Said Melvin "That's the way we'll start out, and they know they have to go out there and perform. That's the way baseball is. If guys don't perform, you make some changes... You don't really take springs from guys who are accomplished and say, 'OK, you didn't have a good spring, therefore someone else is going to pitch in your role'". True, but on top of an awful second-half last year... In my mind, I just have no confidence in Rauch pitching high-leverage innings: I'd start him off, eating garbage in low-pressure situations, and if he does well there, then move him up. Of course, not sure who we would use for the seventh; until Gordon returns, we haven't got many with much major-league experience of pitching to hold a late lead.
The offense didn't set the world on fire either last night, though were at least facing a quality opposing starter in John Danks, who had the fifth-best ERA in the American League last season. All we managed off him in five innings was a lead-off single by Conor Jackson and a two-out Stephen Drew double. We did almost tie things up after Danks had left, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh off Scott Linebrink. We would have had more, but Drew was robbed of a hit with men on the corners, on a diving catch of a sinking liner by Jermaine Dye in right-field. Felipe Lopez had two of the Diamondbacks' seven hits, while Chad Tracy reached safely in both of his plate-appearances, getting a hit and a walk after coming in as a pinch-hitter.
Yahoo! Sports ran their Accuscore standings, and the projections don't make pretty reading for the Diamondbacks, with the consolidated standings having us finishing in third, with an 82-80 record, eleven games back of the Dodgers. However, overall, we still have a 27% chance of making the playoffs according to these numbers - interestingly, they project 85 wins to be enough for the wild-card, which seems eminently achievable for us. However, they do also give the Padres a... - hang on, I need to sit down - a... a 13% chance of seeing post-season action. Yeah, like that is gonna happen. Pretty much proves that these numbers are pulled out of someone's butt, and should be treated as such.
Perhaps more realistically, their panel of experts also projected the standings, and the consensus there is much closer in the NL West: Dodgers over Diamondbacks by less than three games, with one of the four, Steve Henson predicting us to win, 89 wins to 88 - which sounds strangely familiar for some reason... He then goes on to have us lose to the Red Sox in the World Series; everyone picks Boston for the AL title, though one poor, demented soul expects the Cubs to beat them in the grand finale. I didn't realize Dan Bickley now worked for Yahoo! Sports...
Afternoon game at Chase, 1:10pm start, and I believe it's on Fox Sports, so I'll post a Gameday Thread shortly before first pitch, so we can make sure we are fully ready, as commentors, for Opening Day.