I always thought the point of having split-squad games was mostly the Cactus League's way of coping with an uneven number of teams. If that's the case, then it's largely negated when both halves of your split-squad are playing against the same opposition, who are also using split-squads. Still, this afternoon did prove the benefits of playing in Tucson. While every Phoenix-based game was washed out (that won't help attendance, losing seven weekend crowds, including a Cubs-White Sox match-up), the two teams down in Tucson managed to get their contests at least started, albeit in un-springlike conditions. The temperature at gametime in TEP was only fifty degrees, while Hi Corbett had an 18 mph wind blowing in from center. Brrr! Recaps of both semi-games, after the jump.
Also, if anyone is watching the Oscars tonight, feel free to post comments, etc. here. We're putting on our tuxes and evening gowns, and getting the cheese and other nibbles in for the event. Naturally, now we're in the playoffs, we'll be cheering for all the small-market
teams films, and hoping they can stop the Evil Empire i.e. Yankees Avatar, from winning it all. And, of course, cheering on St. Penelope of the Cross.
Neither game made it to the end, both being called in the middle innings, due to ongoing conditions that could be described in meteorological terms as "generally crappy". I sure hope that doesn't happen in two weeks time for SnakePitFestSpringTrainingapalooza. Still, the Diamondbacks did get their first victory of the Cactus League season, torching Franklin Morales and winning the home leg of the simultaneous double-header 9-3 at Tucson Electric Park, but succumbed 4-1 in the away leg at Hi Corbett. That makes us 10-7 winners on aggregate, if my math is correct.
Arizona jumped on board first at Tucson Electric Park, scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning. Back-to-back doubles by Stephen Drew and Tony Abreu lead off the game, and one out later, a sacrifice fly by Justin Upton scored Abreu to make it 2-0. That was just an appetizer, however, as the Diamondbacks enjoyed their best inning of the young season to date the next time up. They sent eleven men to the plate and scored six times, on a pair of three-run homers from Stephen Drew and Rusty Ryal, seeing off Franklin Morales with the delightful line of 1.2 IP, 8 ER. That makes any of our starters' lines look positively economical.
Speaking of which, Ian Kennedy was the man in that role for Arizona, and threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk. He was followed by Chad Qualls, who retired the Rockies in order in the third. Cesar Valdez struggled in the fourth, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk, which brought the Rockies to within five. However, Conor Jackson continued the Home Run Derby for us, with his first home run of spring to lead off our half of the inning, and Barry Enright Enright-ed the ship (thank you, I'll be here all week), retiring Colorado in order in the fifth to make the game official. He added a second hitless inning in the sixth, and that was it.
At Hi-Corbett, both starters looked solid, and there was no scoring until the fourth. For Arizona, Kevin Mulvey went two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk - easily the best performance by any of the candidates for the #5 spot thus far. He was followed to the mound by Bob Howry and Zach Kroenke, who each allowed a single and a double in their inning of work - however, only in the latter's case did that lead to a run for Colorado. That tied the game up, Chris Young having given Arizona the lead in the top of the fourth, courtesy of an error by Clint Barmes.
The Rockies tore into Matt Torra in the fifth and scored three times, with the key blow a two-run single by former Diamondbacks' prospect Carlos Gonzalez, who looks set to be a thorn in our side this year. He scored later in the inning, as Torra allowed four hits, but only one of the runs was earned, thanks to a throwing error by Adam LaRoche - which reminds me, at TEP, Justin Upton also made his first error of the season. With the crowd now ineligible for a refund (does that come across as in any way cynical? I certainly hope so), that proved just about the end of the contest. Josh Ellis threw a zero up for us, and the players left the field shortly past John Hester's single in the top of the seventh, with the game called soon thereafter.
The top offensive star for your Arizona Diamondbacks today was Drew, who had a homer, a double, drove in three runs and added a walk. Ryal also had two hits and three RBI, while Abreu had a couple of hits. At Hi Corbett, Mark Reynolds singled twice. I didn't really bother following the games this afternoon, having got diverted by a truly awful science fiction flick called Antibody, a Fantastic Voyage ripoff in which Lance Henriksen is miniaturized and injected into a terrorist's body to disarm a nuclear detonator. Sound completely dreadful? Well, it wasn't as good as it sounds. Thanks to Purple Row for the partial play-by-play in the comments, which proved most helpful in writing the recaps.
An update on Brandon Webb, whose rehab has apparently "plateaued," according to manager AJ Hinch, with Webb throwing soft-toss this morning, "He'll progress as tolerated. When he feels comfortable, he'll move on. It's important now to not put deadlines on him. It's really important to progress him when he's ready. We're not going to waste any time. When he's ready he's ready... He's not feeling bad, he's just not feeling strong. It's not that unexpected. It is seven months post-surgery. These things get a little testy from time to time. He's not in pain. He's not shut down. He's just a hit a little plateau that he needs to get past to move on to the next level." At the present time, seems there'll be another bullpen session at least before he sees live hitters, so his readiness for the third game seems very doubtful.
We'll be back tomorrow, with the outfield projections and whatever game action might take place when we face the Indians. I'm off to see if I can find something to wash the cinematic sourness of Antibody from my palate.