I'm not sure if the Diamondbacks are aware, but it is okay to take part in contests that are not decided by one run. That's been one of the themes of spring training so far for us, with all the games to date having been decided by the odd run in 13, 15, 7 or, today, 11. Just over seven thousand at Salt River Fields this afternoon, to see us take on the Colorado Rockies. Yes: them again. Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright and uber-prospect Jarrod Parker were the featured attractions on the mound for Arizona. How did they shape up?
Things certainly started off "interestingly," shall we say: though not "interesting" in any good way. Dexter Fowler singled to lead off the game. Nothing particularly noteworthy there. Except that he went from standing on first to crossing home-plate, before the next batter put the ball in play. Fowler stole second, going to third on an error by short-stop Geoff Blum, and then scored, courtesy of a wild-pitch from Galarraga. But we had the last laugh, as our hurler then gave up a triple, rendering all Fowler's exertions a complete waste of time and effort. Hahaha! It's the Diamondbacks way!
A ground-out put Arizona 2-0 down in the middle of the first, and Galarraga allowed another hit in the second, to finish his first game of the season with a fairly "meh" line: in his two innings, he allowed three hits and two earned runs, with no walks or strikeouts. Barry Enright followed him to the mound and did better, the only base-runner he permitted in his two frames, being a two-out double in the fourth. He rebounded to end on a high, getting a called strike three with his last pitch of the day, to finish the inning and strand the runner.
Enter Jarrod Parker, throwing his first semi-demi-almost-meaningful pitches since the summer of 2009. And it could hardly have started better, the first Colorado batter he faced, going down swinging. A walk was followed by a fielder's choice, then two more walks, loading the bases and resulting in a visit to the mound, before Parker got Mileywitzki to fly out harmlessly. That was it for Parker, who was held to a single inning. Before the game, Kirk Gibson said, "He just wants to throw strikes. We know he’s got great stuff, but every pitcher has to be able to command the zone, so I think his goal is to go out and throw strikes." 1 IP, 3 BB: mission not-very accomplished.
Meanwhile, the offense was struggling to get going, with the first eleven Diamondbacks hitters being retired in order, before Justin Upton singled, with two outs in the fourth. We got on the board in the fifth, Brandon Allen almost pulling a Fletcher, by singling, stealing second and advancing on a wild pitch, although he had to wait for Gerardo Parra to ground out, before Allen could score: still, a nicely-manufactured score. The teams traded zeroes in the sixth, Arizona getting a 1-2-3 inning from David Hernandez, to keep it a one-run contest.
That did not survive the arrival of Esmerling Vasquez. Already on the bubble as far as a bullpen spot goes, he will have done his hopes little good by a poor seventh. After getting the lead-off batter to pop out, the next three Rockies all got hits off Vasquez, driving in a run. A double-steal and sacrifice fly added a second, and an unearned run subsequently followed across the plate, courtesy of a throwing error from third-baseman Matt Davidson. Collin Cowgill clawed one of the runs back immediately, with a solo shot to center, but Kam Mickolio restored the Colorado margin in the eighth, on a walk, a hit, a wild pitch and a ground-out.
The Diamondbacks scored twice in the bottom half of that inning, on RBI hits by A.J.Pollock and Davidson, and got the tying run to the plate both there and in the bottom of the ninth with one down. Juan Miranda grounded out, and although Ryan Roberts made it a one-run game with a single, Pollock ended the contest by lining out to the second baseman. The result was Arizona's fourth consecutive game decided by a single tally to start the 2011 Cactus League, and puts their record at 1-3.
Not exactly a crisp game, the two sides combining for no less than six errors and four wild pitches, splitting both categories equally, as well as managing eight hits apiece. Roberts went 2-for-3, the sole Arizona batter to reach safely more than once, with Wily Mo Pena possessing the sole walk, to counter our seven strikeouts. The Diamondbacks pitchers walked more batters than they fanned again, though the margin was only 3-2, and all three of those free passes were the responsibility of Jarrod Parker.
Tomorrow, we face Colorado. Well, there's a surprise. Scheduled to pitch for Arizona: Joe Saunders, Wade Miley, Juan Gutierrez, Mike Hampton, Brian Sweeney, Micah Owings and Yonata Ortega, with the backups likely Rafael Rodriguez, Matt Gorgen and Caelos Rosa.