Never a good sign with the final score could be mistaken for a startled smiley. The Arizona offense sputtered once more, suffering another shutout. They have now scored a total of ten runs over the past five games - seven came in one contest. The San Diego pitching staff were nowhere near as generous this afternoon, holding the home team to six hits and no walks, with none of the knocks coming with a runner in scoring position. On the plus side, Patrick Corbin and Trevor Bauer pitched well. On the other hand, Takashi Saito - who is the same age as Bauer and Corbin combined - struggled, and two ninth-inning errors led to five unearned runs for the Padres.
Let's get the good out of the way. Corbin got the start, and worked three innings, scattering three hits, with no walks and striking out three. However, while he was doing so, Bauer was throwing simulated innings in the bullpen - including working out of the stretch, implying simulated runners on base, as Nick Piecoro noted. Bauer allowed a one-out double that was almost a home-run in the fourth, then struck out the next two batters, and followed it up with a hitless fifth, around a two-out walk. Bauer reportedly reached 96 mph during his outing.
There's some suggestion that part of the reason for this unusual approach is that the likes of Bauer could be used as a reliever if the need arose this year, though the aim remains for them to be part of the rotation. Said Kirk Gibson, "If we got into the middle of the year and somebody went down and we wanted to bring one of our kids up and we needed some length in the bullpen, would Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs or Trevor Bauer be a guy if they absolutely have the best stuff? I'm not saying that, but I think you want to leave your options open... We all see him as a starter, but we also want to try to win the World Series this year." I liked Bauer's reaction:
"If he thinks I should experience it, he's in charge of the club. I'll experience it and I'll figure it out. I've come out of the pen before. I know how to handle it. It'll be good for them to see that I can handle it. I don't like doing it. I much prefer being able to go through my normal routine and stuff, but if that's what helps the club win, that's what I'm all about. I'll figure it out."
The score in today's game was tied at zero after five, the Diamondbacks having had no better luck off Joseph Wieland and the Padres bullpen. However, the arrival of Saito changed that, as he opened the day by allowing back-to-back home-runs to Chase Headley and new Padres Carlos Quentin, who'll be reminding us of the past a good deal more, now he's with San Diego. Joy. That was the score until the ninth, when errors on consecutive hitters by 1B Yazy Arbelo and 3B Matt Davidson opened the flood-gates, with San Diego scoring six runs off Evan Marshall, though only one of those was earned.
Things had got interesting in the seventh, with warnings being issues to both teams - something you almost never see in spring training. This was a result of David Hernandez hitting Will Venable with a pitch, in what was perceived as retaliation for Justin Upton being plunked earlier on, for the second consecutive day. When asked whether he was reacting, Hernandez replied, "Not really. Just keep a running tally in your head -as a pitcher, you definitely have to protect your guys." Steve Gilbert noted that with Josh Byrnes and A.J. Hinch in charge at San Diego this year, "You have to figure the rivalry between the Dbacks and Padres will heat up."
That's certainly more than can be said for Arizona's bats, which were muffled for the second game in a row. The Diamondbacks are now hitting a collective .224 this year, dead last in the Cactus League and seventeen points below the next-worst team. They're also the only team playing in Arizona to be averaging less than four runs per game, sitting at 3.33 after this afternoon's zero. Gerardo Parra and Davidson each had a double, and that was the "highlight" as far as our hitters go. However, for perspective, the top-slugging team in all of spring baseball are the Giants, at a hair under .500. So, it's not likely representative of regular-season results.
As with most Bauer outings, a solid Gameday Thread resulted, with 361 comments. Bcawz, Clefo and blue bulldog topped the table, with the following also in attendance for an hour of Bauer: SongBird, Yoyi3000, asteroid, Zavada's Moustache, Diamondhacks, CaptainCanuck, snakecharmer, G.O.B., Counsellmember, txzona, SenSurround, Jim McLennan, Muu, Shawnwck, NASCARbernet, dbacks25 and PR151. Quick turnaround, with an evening game at Salt River Fields against the Rockies to follow, so expect a thread for that in due course.