Diamondbacks 5/2, Mariners 3/Giants 4 : Heil(man) To The Chief

In case the headline is confusing you, Arizona played twice today: an afternoon game against Seattle at SRF@TS, and then an evening game over at Scottsdale Stadium against San Francisco. The first game was highlighted by a strong pitching performance from the D-backs, one-hitting the Mariners through the front seven innings, behind a very impressive start from Aaron Heilman, to take the victory 5-3. However, the second game went to the Giants, by the same margin, as the Diamondbacks could only scratch out a couple of runs, losing by the final score of 4-2.

Details of both games after the jump.

If Heilman's first start, on Saturday, was solid, his second was even better, as he simply retired all nine batters he faced. Two were strikeouts, four were ground-outs to the infield, and there were two fly-balls and a line-drive to the outfielders. Kirk Gibson was certainly impressed, saying afterward that Heilman "was awesome. He was pounding the zone. He's certainly going for it." No doubt about that, and you can't argue with his performances to date - even if, as mentioned previously, it is somewhat risky to compare his stats with those of pitchers who may be experimenting with their repertoire. But of the three candidates for the fifth spot, Heilman.

In fact, it's a stark contrast to compare the numbers thrown up by our purported #4, Zach Duke, who started the other end of the double-header, and got slapped around something silly, allowing seven hits and a walk over two innings. That resulted in three runs, and it would have been more, save for Gerardo Parra nailing a runner at the plate in the first - leaving the Giants with a zero, despite posting three hits and a walk. That is a total of twelve hits Duke has allowed in only four innings of work this spring. I imagine we'll hear the expected "It's only spring/I'm just getting my pitches in/I don't look at the numbers" quote from Duke in due course.

Back to this afternoon's game, where Joe Paterson kept the no-hitter going, although the perfecto left the building with one out, on a throwing error by Geoff Blum. And the no-hitter followed with Kevin Mulvey's first batter in the fifth, who singled to right. A wild pitch and a walk followed, but no damage resulted to the score. Sam Demel and Leyson Septimo followed up with hitless innings, though the former allowed a walk. That completed seven near impeccable innings for Arizona - total allowed by our pitchers, one single and two walks.

The eighth and ninth...not so much. In fact, Matt Gorgen matched the total from the front seven, all by himself in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, while the second hit of the afternoon was also a single, it drove in two runs, because the bases were loaded at that point, courtesy of two walks and a Tony Abreu error. Rafael Rodriguez almost got out of the ninth, but the pesky third out proved troublesome, and only came after he allowed a two out triple, RBI double and hit batter.

On offense, Juan Miranda got the Diamondbacks on the board in the fourth with his first home-run of spring, driving in Justin Upton as well. Upton was responsible for driving in our third run, his double in the fifth, scoring Willie Bloomquist from second. And after the Mariners had made it a one-run game in the top of the eighth, Arizona responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half, Paul Goldschmidt drove in his fourth and fifth Cactus League runs with a pinch-hit single. Miranda had two walks in addition to the home-run, and A.J. Pollock  had two hits and a walk; Wily Mo Pena added a couple of knocks.

In the night-cap, after the departure of Duke, things calmed down a bit, fortunately. Micah Owings' second appearance was an awful lot better than his first. After a lead-off single, he got Mark DeRosa and Pablo the Buffet Slayer swinging, then froze Nate Schierholtz to strike out the side. Josh Collmenter was almost as impressive, and would probably have had a 1-2-3 inning, if not for a Stephen Drew throwing error: he finished with two K's and no hits or walks in his frame.

Yonata Ortega had a scoreless fifth and Daniel Stange the same in the seventh. Though, in between those guys, Jordan Norberto allowed two doubles and a walk, leading to a San Francisco run in the sixth. Potential eighth-inning guy David Hernandez might have been getting some practice in, for he worked the eighth and posted his third zero of the season, though allowed his first knock.  All told, that was just four hits, two walks and a single run, over six innings after the departure of Duke, so a good day for most of our pitchers.

The offense was kept quiet after going ahead in the second inning, courtesy of a Miguel Montero RBI single. While we scored again in the third, Russell Branyan driving in Melvin Mora, that was it for Diamondbacks scoring, largely because we went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Branyan had two of Arizona's eight hits, with Kelly Johnson also reaching twice, on a walk and a single. In total, we struck out eleven times against three walks, and as in the afternoon, committed two errors, here on throws by Montero and Drew - seems to have been a lot of those so far this spring.

Tomorrow, the team finally moves outside the cozy confines of Scottsdale, heading over to Peoria for a game against the Padres. Schedule to pitch: Daniel Hudson, Jarrod Parker, Kam Mickolio, Esmerling Vasquez, Carlos Rosa, Brian Sweeney, David Hernandez.

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