Yes, that picture may look all sunny, but it doesn't capture the freezing winds which ripped across Salt River Fields this afternoon - I suspect the sun-block dispensers didn't exactly see much action. But the chilling effect didn't appear to extend to the D-backs, who played much better than Saturday, and picked up their first win of the year.
Patrick Corbin was the starter for the Diamondbacks, and put his flag in the ground to stake his claim for the fifth spot, with a very solid performance. He walked the first hitter he faced, but roared back impressively, to strike out the side thereafter - and that was fanning Jordan Pacheco, Carlos Gonzalez and Ramon Hernandez, not spring scrubs. Corbin then added a fourth consecutive K to start his second inning, but lost his bid for a no-hitter on an infield single. However, he ended his day with a double-play ball, to give him a pair of scoreless innings, with one hit, one walk and an impressive four strikeouts.
He was followed by Charles Brewer, who was almost as impressive - he also faced one batter over the minimum, and indeed, didn't allow a hit in his two innings, fanning three Rockies. Warner Madrigal - definitely one of the better names on the spring roster - worked the fifth inning, and escaped some two on, one out trouble, with the aid of another double-play, to keep the shutout intact. It didn't last much longer, however: the Rockies scored two in the sixth off Garrett Mock, who allowed a bomb with a man aboard and one out. Starling Peralta also got help from a twin-killing in his Diamondbacks debut, with a scoreless seventh:
Things got less amusing in the eighth, however, as an unholy combination of Kevin Munson and Seth Simmons retired just one of the first eight Colorado hitters who came to the mound. That allowed the Rockies to score four times and load the bases, putting the tying run in scoring position with one out. However, Taylor Siemens then got a much-needed double-play, to stop the Rockies in their tracks. It says something about the late innings of spring training games, however, that the twin killing went second-baseman Nick Ahmed to shortstop Josh Wilson to first-baseman Kila Ka'aihue. Bo Schultz picked up the save, with another twin-killing, our fifth of the game.
But this was a day for our offense, who unleashed their inner...ah, offensiveness, in a way largely absent yesterday. It did take a little while for them to get there, however. The first three innings were scoreless, the Diamondbacks failing to score there against veteran Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio, though we had both some hits and some hard-huts outs as well. The breakthrough came in the fourth frame, Arizona batting around, with Jason Kubel opening and closing the inning for the Diamondbacks. In between times, the semi-visitors scored five, with a two-run double to the gap in right-center off the bat of Martin Prado, being the highlight of that frame.
A trio more runs were then added in the fifth, off a familiar face - Miguel Batista, hoping to win a roster spot with the Rockies this year. On this performance, I hope he likes the restaurants in Colorado Springs. Adam Eaton and Eric Hinske each picked up their third hits of the afternoon, as Arizona went 8-0 up by half-way. That was the end of the day for your regularly-scheduled starters - our next three at-bats were from Alfredo Marte, Tuffy Gosewisch and Matt Davidson. There also wasn't much to speak of thereafter from the lumber: a double from Josh Wilson and a Davidson single being the only hits, though A.J. Pollock did appear as a pinch-hitter, and was clearly feeling better.
Still, all told, this was a much better performance by the D-backs, in just about every aspect, outside the bottom of the eighth, though Eric Hinske nearly ran into his second TOOTBLAN in as many games. Otherwise, we got good pitching from most hurlers, and strung together some good sequences of hits, taking advantage of opposition errors. It's worth noting that we scored eight runs without a long ball, something we've managed only four times in regular-season play since the end of the 2010 season. I know this was one of Kirk Gibson's aims for this year, to give us an offense less heavily reliant on the home-run: small sample size, but today shows us it can be done.
A livelier Gameday Thread, cruising past 300 comments with Clefo, Bryan J. Boltik, and snakecharmer leading the pack. Also to be seen were: BigLeagueAZ, Fangdango, Jim McLennan, RobbieFVK (welcome!), friendly visiting Cubs fan Tim Huwe, TolkienBard, dbacks79, deerhaven, grimmy01 and imstillhungry95. Tomorrow, the team heads round the Loop 101 to face the Kansas City Frenchies in Surprise. The final contender for the fifth spot, new arrival Randall Delgado, is the starter. But don't touch that dial, as up imminently will be our usual Oscar night thread - my tuxedo hangs next to me as I write - and Clefo will host the SnakePit video round table, kicking off at 8pm AZ time.