"Beautiful night & jam-packed house." - @DHallDbacks, via Twitter
The missing Venezuelan offense showed up for the D-backs tonight at Salt River. The trio of Gerardo Parra, Miguel Montero and Martin Prado, combined for four RBI, three runs and all our hits until the 8th inning. Randall Delgado had his best start, throwing four scoreless innings, and the D-backs got their first shutout win in the Cactus League since March 21, 2011.
Judging by the early going, Randall Delgado was in for a rough night. The first batter singled. The second also singled, though was out at second, trying to stretch it out into a double, leaving a man on third. The third Brewer to come up hit one back to Delgado, but the D-backs managed to botch the rundown, leaving not only the man safe on third, but allowing the batter to reach second, putting two men in scoring position with one out. At that point, the odds of the D-backs pitching a shutout seemed pretty slim.
But Delgado worked through it, and our eyes at the game, JuanBobo666, said "I understand why everyone is taking this start with a jupiter-sized grain of salt, but he's looked great. Had one knocked to the warning track in straight away center, but other than that they've been slap hits, and now a swinging bunt. The curve looks to be working and the velo is more than I was expecting." Delgado retired eight in a row, 11 of 12, and finished with four scoreless innings, on three hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. It was definitely the best outing of his pre-season: his last outing, against the Angels, was the game wiped out by rain with him unable to complete two frames.
It was good to see J.J. Putz get into Cactus League action for the first time [he did pitch a scoreless inning in the game against Mexico], and he had a perfect fifth. Zeke Spruill followed up with a 1-2-3 sixth: at that point the Brewers had managed just a single base-runner over the preceding 5.2 innings. Not that the DIamondbacks had been doing any better. In fact, our sole hit to this point, had been Gerardo Parra's home-run, leading off the bottom of the first (as noted, surpassing his entire WBC output for Venezuela in his first PA back here). After that, Yovanni Gallardo - yep, him again - and John Axford had sat down 15 consecutive Arizona batters, leaving it just 1-0 to us.
That turned around rapidly in a sixth inning which included three walks, three stolen bases from three different players (Cliff Pennington, Parra and Martin Prado), a two-RBI double from Parra, a sacrifice fly for Aaron Hill and an RBI single from Miguel Montero. Suddenly, it was 5-0 to the Diamondbacks. Joe Paterson appeared to have been infected, as he walked the leadoff guy and allowed a single to the next Brewer, but recovered to get two strikeouts and a groundball, the last converted impressively by Pennington into an out.
Charles Brewer pitched a scoreless eighth, and the D-backs added another two runs on the bottom, both coming in on a seeing-eye single from Brent Clevelen back up the middle. That as justice done, as Evan Frey's double would likely have scored Matt Davidson anyway, except for the fan interference which made it a ground-rule double. The shutout came in for its toughest test in the ninth, when Rommie Lewis led off with a double, which advanced to third on a wild pitch, and walked the next batter, to put men on the corners with no outs. But an infield pop-up and double-play ball led to the ninth and final zero.
As noted, it has been a while. The last pitching shutout was actually against the Brewers, last season, but that was in a 0-0 tie, which is about the most unsatisfactory result of all The 3-0 win over LA referenced in the intro as our last shutout victory, saw Ian Kennedy outduel Clayton Kershaw: Joe Paterson also pitched in that game, but of the eight position player starters for the D-backs, almost two years ago, only Willie Bloomquist and Miguel Montero are still with the organization. And if you're looking for a shutout win of this magnitude, you've got to go all the way back to spring 2008, when Arizona's split-squad team beat the Chicago White Sox, 10-0.
All told, the pitchers had a good day, striking out a total of 11 Brewers, allowing three walks and holding them to five hits, only one for extra-bases. The offense had nine K's against four walks, but stole three bases and did not appear to run into any TOOTBLANs, so all told, this was a crisp and well-played game for the Diamondbacks. Here's to more of the same. However, it won't be immediately, as tomorrow is an off-day, the first of two this spring. Dunno what I'm going to do with myself...