In the fifth century, St . Patrick is reported to have banished snakes from Ireland. It may have taken 1,500 years to get a degree of payback, but what better day than St. Patrick's Day for our local Diamondbacks to mount a stirring comeback? And what better opponent than the Angels to do it against? [Ok, yes, I suppose the Padres would have been even more fitting, but work with me here.]
Showing an impressive amount of fortitude, Arizona clawed their way back from 6-1 down after five innings, to beat Los Angeles for the second time in less than a week. A mediocre start by Ian Kennedy and a long-ball off Leo Rosales dug the Diamondbacks a hole, but they chipped away, scoring runs in four consecutive innings. John Hester completed the comeback, driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth with a sacrifice fly, and Esmerling Vasquez pitched two hitless innings for the victory.
Details, plus some excellent news from Brandon Webb, are located beyond the jump.
Another day where the offense got it done, accumulating a total of twenty base-runners over the course of the afternoon, on sixteen hits and four walks. Despite not appearing until the seventh inning, Drew Macias was in the forefront of things, with a pair of hits and a couple of runs driven in - he just missed a home-run in the eighth, but his double still succeded in tying the game. for the Diamondbacks. That was a particularly cruel blow for the Angels, as third-baseman Freddy Sandoval had dropped a foul ball earlier in the at-bat, giving Macias a second chance, of which he took full advantage.
There was also a two-hit game for another late-inning replacement, Cole Gillespie, who tripled in a run, pinch-hitting for Conor Jackson as part of the three-run seventh which really got Arizona back into the contest. Justin Upton went 2-for-3 and is now hitting exactly .400 for the Cactus League season, while our own leprechaun, Augie Ojeda, had two hits of his own. They included the crucial leadoff double in the ninth, which led directly to the pot of gold at the end of this afternoon's rainbow of baseball entertainment. And it was especially nice to see Mark Reynolds go deep for the first time this spring - his average is now at .240, much better than the .176 it sat at last Saturday.
On the pitching side, Ian Kennedy didn't have the best of days, not getting through his scheduled innings and having to be pointed back to the dugout by AJ Hinch with only one man out in the fourth inning. Kennedy allowed seven hits and two walks in 3.1 innings, so was perhaps somewhat lucky only to concede four runs on the day - it helped that his replacement, Leo Rosales, got a double-play to tidy up an icky two on, one out situation and end the fourth. However, Rosales couldn't quite escape the fifth, with a two-run shot by Juan Rivera giving the Angels a five-run lead at that point. Kennedy was unhappy afterwards:
I felt all over the place. My fastball command wasn't nearly what I wanted it to be. It'd feel like one pitch would be there and the next pitch I would try to repeat it and it's up and away or I'd pull it in the dirt. It's frustrating because I always want to do well. It's Spring Training, but still I want to perform. It's just one of those starts where I felt like I couldn't repeat the same pitch I had before... You can't pitch late in games throwing that many pitches every time. I physically feel good. That's the frustrating part. You feel good and then I feel like I can't repeat the same pitch so that's what's frustrating.
Fortunately, the bullpen held firm thereafter, Jordan Norberto, Barry Enright and Esmerling Vasquez pitching one-hit baseball over the final four innings. Norberto continues to impress - that's now five innings he has thrown, with no hits allowed to date, a couple of walks and a hit batter being the only base-runners he has permitted. Enright isn't that far behind, with four shutout frames, on two hits and two walks, and seems to have flown somewhat under the radar this spring.
Almost four hundred comments in the Gameday Thread: kishi just pipped 'Skins at the front, 94-88, with justin1985 in third place. Also present: 4 Corners Fan, Bcawz, emilylovesthedbacks, pygalgia, Baja F1, snakecharmer, luckycc, Muu and piratedan7. Next televised game is, I believe, in three days time on Saturday, so that will be the next Gameday Thread.
The afternoon also got considerably brighter with the latest news on Brandon Webb, who spoke about a throwing session he had over the weekend. "It felt like I was throwing hard as hell. It felt like I was throwing 95... I was letting it go almost all the way. I felt like I had more left in the tank even... It’s good to go back out and throw instead of kind of dreading it." Nick Piecoro said Webb sounded "confident and optimistic," and even projected a return time for himself, saying "a couple weeks late, three weeks late, is something that’s more reachable." Steve Gilbert reckons the problem, according to the surgeon who operated on Webb, was "not that the shoulder wasn't recovering, but that the timetable was a little too aggressive."
Needless to say, that's excellent news, and a great surprise, given how gloomy things were looking only a week or so ago. If Webb is indeed able to rejoin the rotation in late April, that could mean our sixth starter will only need to play a couple of games, before Brandon is ready. Of course, he doesn't have to be capable of pitching like a Cy Young candidate to be useful - simply being better than Rodrigo Lopez, Bryan Augenstein or whoever is occupying the sixth spot is all that's needed. We will continue to monitor this ongoing story, and hope for further forward progress in the coming weeks.
Finally, want some hints on the batting order? Steve Gilbert reports that it's looking likely Hinch will use Conor Jackson batting #2, with Upton, Adam LaRoche and Reynolds in the heart of the order. Hinch says, "Kelly and Stephen and CY could all conceivable hit near the top or the bottom of our lineup," but it seems less likely we'll see the 150+ differing line-ups beloved of BoMel. "I don't want to get into a routine of flipping the lineup all the time. I do like the idea of having the guys understand their roles and understand where it is." It could be something like today's order, which went Drew, Jackson, Upton, LaRoche, Reynolds, Montero, Johnson, Young.