We were probably too busy wallowing in our own misery to notice, but the Dodgers have also been having a pretty crappy spring. In fact, if we'd won this afternoon's contest against Los Angeles, we'd be only half a game behind them in the Cactus League standings. And this looked possible, as after seven frames, we were clinging to a 4-2 lead. Enter Rafael Rodriguez, who had clearly been taking lessons from the J.J. Putz school of pre-season preparation. He allowed four hits, two home runs and four runs before retiring a batter, condemning the Diamondbacks to their ninth defeat in a row.
Arizona's Cactus League record is 5-18. It's almost getting amusing now, but this one might be a bit terse.
A decent start for Aaron Heilman who pitched five innings today - the first AZ started to do so - allowing six hits, but no walks. The only real damage done against him was Matt Kemp's two-run shot with no outs in the fourth. Heilman struck out three and lowered his spring ERA to 4.76. David Hernandez and Carlos Rosa followed with scoreless innings, the latter striking out two in a clean seventh inning. And then Rafael Rodriguez happened. Single, single, homer, homer. and the near ten thousand crowd at Camelbank Ranch - or at least, the fraction of them supporting the Dodgers - got to go home happy.
Our offense made it interesting in the ninth, loading the bases and putting the tying run in scoring position with only one out. However, Adam Eaton lined into a double-play, seeing that tying run, in the shape of Juan Miranda, doubled off second. Not the greatest of baserunning moments, I would imagine, on a day where Justin Upton was also caught stealing third - the fifth time he has been caught in only six attempts. I trust there will be significant improvement - like, the ratio should be the other way round - once the season starts, or first-base coach Eric Young should go out there armed with a nail-gun.
That said, he did have two of Arizona's seven hits, including a double off Jonathan Broxton. Miguel Montero and Ryan Roberts each also had a pair, with Tony Abreu getting the other. Roberts is still hitting .500 for the spring, a number which, among all major-leaguers with 30+ at-bats, trails only the Royals' Melky Cabrera, who has gone 18-for-35. I take no small pleasure in seeing how the Diamondbacks' young players have, by and large, kicked the butts of the veterans this spring. For example:
- Gerardo Parra .350/.381/525 vs. Xavier Nady .189/.211/.324
- Tony Abreu .317/.326/.439 vs. Geoff Blum .268/.321/.269
- Ryan Roberts: .500/.614/.647 vs. Willie Bloomquist: .375/.405/.450 and Melvin Mora .222/.333/.222
If there is genuine competition for those spots on the roster, then at the moment, there are some players who are skating on thin ice - not where you want to be in a Phoenix spring. Bloomquist is probably the only one who showing this spring has justified a spot come April 1st. Right now, here's how I would shape up the roster, based solely on the spring performances so far:
Bench: Blanco, Branyan, Abreu, Parra, Bloomquist