TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 07: Fans sit on the grass near the #12 honoring Christina-Taylor Green's little league baseball jersey number during the spring training game between the Chicago White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium on March 7, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The charity game is to benefit the 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund. Green was a victim of the Tucson shooting on January 8th. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Okay, that headline might be deemed in appalling taste, given the cause today's game in Tucson was benefiting. But, really, what else could I use, with this line from today's box-score at Kino Veterans' Memorial Stadium?
Wind: 36 mph, L to R.
Yep. You read that correctly. 36 mph. The gale-force conditions played havoc with pitching all across the Cactus League today: the seven games completed at time of writing saw six teams score a dozen or more runs. Milwaukee pounded Cincinnati for 15 on twenty-five hits; the Cubs came from nine down to beat the Angels 14-13; and the Indians battled the White Sox to a 16-16 tie. Not a day to be a pitcher.
Details of the Diamondbacks' split-squad split, taking their record to 4-9, are after the jump.
We should therefore take conditions into consideration when looking at today's box-scores. Let's get the bad news out of the way first, beginning down in Tucson. Zach Duke maintained his standard of a run per inning, allowing three runs over his three innings of work, on three solo home-runs. No walks, one strikeout. Kevin Mulvey then produced what would turn out to be one of the afternoon's more impressive lines, allowing only one run in his two innings. He did walk two, in addition to two hits, but also struck out four batters.
Enter Jarrod Parker, who pitched a trouble-free, 1-2-3 sixth, then got the first out of the seventh - and should have quit while he was ahead, if he knew what was good for him. The next four batters reached, on a pair of singles and two walks: the last hitter he faced received a bases-loaded free-pass, and Parker's day was done. Daniel Stange came in to a nasty, one-out, bases loaded jam, and took care of business. Well, the bases didn't remain loaded for long. By the time the seven-run inning was finally over, he'd walked two, allowed a couple of hits, thrown a wild pitch, balked and been tagged for three on his own record, in addition to the trio of inherited ones which scored.
Joe Patterson did restore order with a scoreless eighth, striking out a pair, but since we were ten runs down by that point, it hardly seemed to matter. Carlos Rosa worked the ninth, and allowed the White Sox their final run, on a pair of hits. Offensively, we did have a fair degree of success against former D-back Edwin Jackson, with six hits, four of them for extra bases, in his 3.1 innings. However, we could only score on Cody Ransom's one-out homer in the first. He and Cole Gillespie each had a hit and a walk, while Stephen Drew had a couple of hits.
In the valley, the final result was more to our liking, though it took four in the ninth to pull off a Surprise comeback (hohoho) against Kansas City. The hero was A.J. Pollock, who went yard with one out in the ninth, a three-run shot, immediately followed by Ryan Wheeler also leaving the park. Those were just two of seven long-balls there, accounting for all but a couple of the fourteen runs scored in this afternoon's game. Konrad Schmidt and Juan Miranda, each delivered their second of spring. Miranda had two hits, and Gerardo Parra - obviously motivated by his lowly position on the Heroes and Villains chart from this morning - doubled his spring tally.
Aaron Heilman's perfect ERA is toast, though he suffered from a case of wind too, all three earned runs allowed coming on a pair of homers - one tagged in the box-score as a line-drive... He wasn't helped by some defensive indifference: a Schmidt error leading to an unearned run in the first, and a Geoff Blum error leading off the third, meaning there was an extra man on base for the long-ball. Heilman's final line was four hits, a walk and two strikeouts in three innings, throwing a total of 48 pitches this time. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
After him, the bullpen did a good job of locking things down for the next four innings, allowing one hit and a walk over that time. We saw our first in-game appearance by closer J.J. Putz, albeit briefly - he wrapped up the fourth inning on just nine pitches. Mike Hampton and Zach Kroenke followed with scoreless innings, and it was nice to see Esmerling Vasquez get back on track with a perfect seventh. Josh Collmenter was the beneficiary of the late offense, getting the W despite allowing a run on two hits in the eighth, and Jordan Norberto picked up the save, posting a 1-2-3 final frame.
Bit of a mixed bag day for fundamentals or on the base-paths for Arizona. Between the two games, the D-backs committed a total of five errors: two were on throws by our catchers, and Mulvey also botched a pick-off, so clearly work still to be done on the running game. Down in Tucson, we went 0-2 in SB atttempts, thanks to Brandon Allen and Collin Cowgill both being caught, while the White Sox were 1-1. Things went better in Surprise, where Paul Goldschmidt and Willie Bloomquist pulled off successful thefts - but the Royals went 3-for-3 themselves, include a double-steal which triggered Schmidt's error.
A couple of things I just realized Kishi mentioned, we won't be seeing Melvin Mora for a few days, as his car was hit from behind this morning, on the 101 between Cactus and Shea. No major injuries were suffered, but he is being held out of the lineups - which makes sense, because whiplash can take a few days to show up. Any truth to the rumor that it was Coco Crisp who hit him? Kishi also reports that the Diamondbacks have smashed the franchise record for ticket sales, selling 148,943 tickets to date. That's twelve thousand more than the best Tucson season. Next up: 155,819, the number sold by the Cactus League-leading Giants last year.