Ah, the joys of spring training. Rank amateurs in the commentary booth, players you've never heard of on the park, and as for the rules of baseball... Well, to steal a quote from Prates of the Caribbean, they're "more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules." Hence, poor Bob Howry surrendered a home-run to a player who was batting out of order, someone called Jake Wald ended the game playing shortstop for the Diamondbacks, and play-by-play today was provided by - and I kid you not - the writer of Mannequin 2: On the Move. And was about as good as you might expect from that.
Okay, let's start with the Ethier incident. According to our colleagues at True Blue LA
The original lineup had Ethier hitting third and Matt Kemp fourth, but the Dodgers' lineup card presented to the umpires had Kemp listed third and Ethier fourth. In the third inning, Ethier and Kemp made the final two outs, in that order. Once the fourth inning started, after conferring with the umpires, acting manager Don Mattingly had Ethier leadoff the inning, and he deposited a Bobby Howry over the fence. Even for managers, spring training is needed to iron out the kinks before the season begins. "[Bench coach Bob Schaefer] puts it on the card and it's my job to check it," said Mattingly, "Its good to get something like this out of the way in spring."
Not so much an explanation, more an excuse, I'd say - still not sure how they decided Ethier got to lead off the fourth, now in the #5 spot. Joe Torre is probably thinking, "You just can't get good help these days." Mattingly was in charge of the Dodgers because Torre departed with the vast bulk of their roster (33 players!) for a weekend series in Taiwan. Yep: and you thought going down to Tucson for a spring-training game was a bit of a stretch. Still, this was hardly a minor-league starting line-up put out by LA, with the likes of Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp and Brian Giles, as well as Ethier.
A good challege for Dan Haren, who threw 2.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out one. He reached 49 pitches on the day, a significant increase from the twenty thrown in his opening appearance. Said Haren afterward, "I felt the ball was coming out of my hand a little better today. I used more off-speed stuff. I threw about five or six splits, which I need to do. And my fastball felt like it had a little bit of life to it. I’m still not out there max effort, but overall I felt really good." He didn't quite get through the third, Howry getting the final out, but Haren still seems perfectly on track for Opening Day.
After the Ethier home-run in the fourth tied the game, Chad Qualls pitched the fifth and had a smooth 1-2-3 inning, getting all three batters on groundballs to Tony Abreu at shortstop. That's just the kind of thing we want to see: generating grounders is Qualls' main method of operation, so this was a good indication that he is recovering well from the knee-surgery mentioned yesterday. Not so effective was Zach Kroenke, who did his roster chances no good at all, by retiring only two of the seven batters he faced this afternoon, allowing three hits, two walks, and three earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Wes Roemer tidied up, and he and Josh Ellis pitched 3.1 innings of one-hit ball the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, on offense, it was the Tony Abreu and Conor Jackson show. The former finished a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, driving in a run in the seventh with a home-run off Jeff Weaver. CoJack got his spring batting average up to .571, going 2-for-2 with a walk, and opened the scoring for the Diamondbacks, driving in Abreu on a first-inning single. After falling behind 4-1 in the wake of Kroenke's ineffectual pitching, Arizona chipped away, putting up runs in the seventh and eighth. They then tied the game on a groundball to short in the ninth, with a runner on third - the Dodgers threw home, but the catcher couldn't hold on. Arizona then escaped defeat, Ellis getting a double-play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to seal the tie.
An excellent turnout in the Gameday Thread: worth doing a rollcall for the 481 comments and seventeen individuals who took part. So, present were: kishi, Bcawz, BattleMoses, pygalgia, snakecharmer, 4 Corners Fan, unnamedDBacksfan, Baja F1, AJforAZ, emilylovesthedbacks, dima1109, DBacks_UA, SeanMillerSavior, DbacksSkins, katers and Zephon. kishi led all posters with 129 coments, BattleMoses pipping AJforAZ 77-73 for the runners-up position. Nice to see people getting back into regular season form.
A lot of venom there was leveled at the Dodgers broadcast coupling, at least one-half of whom seemed to lack the slightest clue. I haven't had the chance to review the Tivo broadcast yet, but if it's as bad as everyone says it was, I think it'll merit a piece of its own. I'll be taking notes when I watch the game... In the meantime, the SB Nation team previews have reached the Diamondbacks and my piece - mostly because no-one else wanted to write the damn thing. It's an interesting series, and definitely worth checking out; there's a new team each day, in reverse order of the Vegas odds. We were 75/1, which seemed good value when Webb's rehab was going smoothly. Now... Not so much, I fear.