After a disappointing first half to the Cactus League, it seemed important for Arizona to come out of the gate strong in the second half. And, when Chris Young and Juston Upton cracked back-to-back homers in the bottom of the opening inning at Salt River Fields, it seems that might be what they'd do. However, a slew of missed opportunities by the offense, and one bad inning by Armando Galarraga proved key, as the Diamondbacks lost their seventh spring training contest in a row, in front of another near-sellout crowd. So that was nice.
Arizona's Cactus League record is now 5-16.
Barry Enright started for Arizona, and wasn't particularly at his sharpest, allowing four hits and a walk in three innings of work. Seemed to be quite a quick hook for Enright, as he faced only 13 batters before being lifted [as a comparison, the Giants starter saw 18 hitters tonight] - it wasn't as if the Giants were lighting up the scoreboard, as the only damage in those three innings was a solo home-run. Kirk Gibson has good things to say too: "He threw great. He’s using both sides of the plate. He’s sharp." Juan Gutierrez followed with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, and for the first time in what seems like forever, we had a chance to get through the front five frames in front.
Galarraga took care of that though, as San Francisco scored three times in the fifth, to take the lead. They did have a bit of luck, their pitcher legging out an infield hit after a lead-off double, but the key blow came after an RBI ground out tied the game, followed by a strikeout. Galarraga had the chance to get out of the inning without further damage, but instead surrendered a two-run shot to right-field. He did retire the last seven batters faced, and struck out a total of five in his three innings, but all three hits allowed subsequently crossed the plate, and as a result, Armando's ERA went the wrong way, ending the night at 8.18.
Esmerling Vasquez delivered a clean eighth, but Micah Owings took the loss, the Giants scoring the go-ahead run with two outs in the top of the ninth, on a double to left, and the Diamondbacks didn't have a chance to come back, going down meekly in order, on two K's and a groundout, not even getting the ball out of the infield. Arizona scored their runs on three solo homers - Gerardo Parra had the other one, in the eighth, after the B-t-Bers in the first - and a Giants error, Buster Posey throwing the ball away as Young stole third during the fifth inning. In total, the Diamondbacks were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Young was the most outstanding player on offense, with two hits including the homer, plus a walk and that stolen-base - worth noting, that came out of the lead-off spot, which I think is close to a first for CY this pre-season. Stephen Drew had a hit and a walk, while Melvin Mora, back in the line-up after his shunt on the 101, appeared to show no ill-effects, also getting a hit and a walk. Young had the only SB, but we held the Giants in check, and didn't make an errors, though a K:BB ratio of 13:3 was higher than I'd like - on the other hand, we only walked one San Francisco hitter, and struck out six in total.
As IHSB tweeted, "Another crappy night for Xavier Nady - 0-3, 2 K. The flier made sense for trade upside, but it's time to give Brandon Allen the PA's. DFA." Not sure I'd quite go that far, but his OPS in spring is down to an ever-more anemic .582, and he certainly hasn't looked good - I'm perhaps most concerned that he has yet to take a walk in 37 at-bats, with nine strikeouts now. Neither he nor Geoff "Two-year deal" Blum have looked worthy of a roster spot, and I suspect, if they weren't on guaranteed contracts, could well have found themselves re-assigned elsewhere by now. I wonder how long a leash the organization will have, if they continue to under-perform?