USA TODAY Sports
While the D-backs were taking on the A's at Phoenix Muni, we were at Chase Field, watching USA come from behind to beat Canada and clinch a place in the second round of the WBC. We'll have more on that tomorrow, but for now, here are details of the Cactus action.
The Diamondbacks quickly took the lead at Phoenix Muni, scoring twice in the first, as Oakland starter (and former AZ prospect) Brett Anderson was lifted from the game after only twp hitters. Adam Eaton singled, and Cliff Pennington sharp groundball clanked off the glove of the third-baseman, Eaton, alertly, saw no-one was watching third and went for the extra base: Anderson ran to cover, but appeared to pull something in his back, and was replaced, though the injury to Oakland's Opening Day starter isn't reportedly serious. A wild pitch and RBI single by A.J. Pollock scored two runs for us before Arizona had recorded an out, though they weren't able to do any more damage.
After a perfect first inning, Tyler Skaggs' afternoon largely went downhill. He loaded the bases without retiring a batter in the second, and two runs came home for Oakland, tying the game up. They then took the lead in the third, on Jed Lowrie's two-run homer. Skaggs finished strong, retiring the A's in order in the fourth, but the final line was four innings, four hits, two walks and four runs, all earned. After a solid outing the previous time, that seemed to open up the possibility of a competition with Patrick Corbin, this probably won't have done much to narrow the gap, leaving Skaggs with a spring ERA of 12.79.
The Diamondbacks made it a one-run game in the top of the fourth, Matt Davidson doubling home Paul Goldschmift. But that was it, in terms of productive offense for the team, until Ollie Linton doubled to lead off the ninth, and advanced to third on an error, then Chris Owings rendered it moot with his second homer of the spring. We did outhit the Athletics overall, 10-7, and had more extra-base hits too, but they drew more walks (5-2), and were more productive with runners in scoring situations. Goldschmidt had a pair of hits for Arizona, but we also struck out ten times.
After Skaggs, Charles Brewer allowed his first run of spring in a two-inning outing, allowing a hit and a walk. Starling Peralta had a clean seventh inning, which was about his best work of the preseason (reducing, as it did, his ERA to 21.00!). But Garret Mock struggled, retiring two of the six batters faced in the eighth, with the others reaching on two hits and two walks. He had to be bailed out by Joe Paterson, who did give up a run-scoring wild pitch, the second of two runs charged to Mock, but got a strikeout to limit the damage. That was actually the only K managed by the pitching staff, compared to five walks, which is not the ratio we want to see.
As mentioned, there was also a B-game for the Diamondbacks, which saw some of their pitchers getting action against some Giants hitters at Salt River. Ian Kennedy got a chance to work on his curveball, and record 15 outs - oddly, it seems that some of the innings had four outs because.... Er, just because, okay? In the same game. J.J. Putz toyed with a slider, though was careful to stress, "It is not a cutter. It is not a cutter. I know that hurt my mechanics big time." Josh Booty apparently also pitched, but no word as yet on how that went. Oh, and memo to self. Do not search for "booty" on Twitter. Some things cannot be unseen...
Oh, hang on: here we go. Jack Magruder rides to the rescue. He says, "Booty threw 28 pitches, about half knuckleballs, in the Diamondbacks' "B" game against a team of Giants minor leaguers on Sunday morning. Booty had some control issues, giving up two runs on a hit, two walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball." Looks like he retired two batters, with his fastball clocked at up to 85 mph. As Magruder points out, Booty "can take solace in the fact that Dickey gave up 11 runs in three innings the first time he threw the knuckler in a Class AAA game."
Tomorrow, it's back at Salt River Fields to face the Cubs, with Trevor Cahill starting for Arizona. We'll be going to that one, and hanging out on the left-field berm with Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue, so looking forward to that. After this afternoon at Chase, we'll definitely be bringing sunblock! And stay turned, for the weekly D-backs video round table, which will coming up tonight, assuming Clefo makes it back safely to Tucson after SnakePitWBCFest!