Sunny, 70 & perfect here at @SaltRiverFields with #Dbacks hosting #Reds & @USABaseball working out on back fields! - @BertDbacks, via Twitter
Arizona fell behind early, after Brandon McCarthy allowed a home-run to the second batter of the game. However, things got a lot better for our starter from there, and for the Diamondbacks in general.
The Diamondbacks came back immediately, tying it up in their half, and also made all three outs, without getting the ball out of the infield. Adam Eaton led off with a single to the third-baseman, and Cliff Pennington followed with a walk. Eric Chavez struck out swinging, but a double-steal advanced both men (despite the Reds' 3B coming down on top of Eaton's head with the throw!), and Jason Kubel got the RBI, courtesy of a groundball back to the pitcher, with everyone ending up safe. That put runners on the corners, with still only one out; however, A.J. Pollock hit into a double-play to end the inning, with the scores now locked up at one.
The second inning was unusual, in that both McCarthy and Reds starter Johnnie Cueto struck out the site. Indeed, McCarthy followed that up by fanning the first two batters he faced in the third inning, so all told, eight consecutive hitters were retired by the K. McCarthy finished with a very solid line, facing one batter over the minimum in his three innings of work, with just the solo home-run allowed, no walks, and five strikeouts. Both sets of pitchers generated a lot of ground-balls too: no outfielder actually touched the ball (thus discounting the home-run) until the 26th batter of the day, when Chavez singled to center, leading off the fourth.
The scores remained tied at one until the bottom half of the fifth, when the Diamondbacks broke through against Manny Parra, helped by Zack Cosart, who repaid the run generated through his homer, with an error on an attempted force which led to John McDonald joining Wil Nieves on the base-paths. Aaron Hill came off the bench as a pinch-hitter, driving in Nieves, and one out later, Cliff Pennington continued his good spring, with an RBI single to score McDonald. It looks like the Reds might claw their way back in the seventh, pulling to within one run against Starling Peralta, who allowed a lead-off double that scored on a sac fly and groundout.
But the Diamondbacks again responded, even more emphatically this time, by putting up four runs in the bottom of the seventh. They were once more assisted by mediocre fielding from the Reds, who committed an error and also failed to convert a fielder's choice (unless that choice was "everyone reaches base safely). Throw in four hits, including Chris Owings' first home-run of spring, and you've got yourself a four-spot in the Arizona column, with a 7-2 lead. Eric Smith and Euby de la Rosa brought it home with scoreless innings. Joe Paterson also put up a zero, and Zeke Sprull followed up McCarthy with two hitless innings, though he also walked two.
Those were the only two free passes given out by the Diamondbacks today, giving them a 7:2 K:BB ratio, with McCarthy doing most of the damage. It was definitely a case of Arizona making the most of the three Cincinnati errors, as the majority of our runs this afternoon were unearned: we had plenty of chances with runners in scoring position, but went 3-for-12 in those situations. Just the one walk for the D-backs, against eight strikeouts: Pennington got the walk, along with a hit, and was the only member of the offense who reached base safely more than once, our nine hits going to nine different people.
Seems things got a bit testy this afternoon, as Kirk Gibson and Dusty Baker had a bit of a face-off at home plate. Seems the trigger was whether or not to use the DH. The Reds wanted to do so, so Shin-Soo Choo could hit despite his quad issue, but the D-backs preferred to get Brandon McCarthy some plate-time, coming over from the American League. In cases of dispute, the home team gets to decide, and so there was no designated hitter in use today. That apparently led to Baker refusing to shake Gibson's hand when they met to exchange line-up cards. In case you're wondering, we don't face the Reds until the second half of June, so I assume this will all blow over.
Tomorrow should be a lot of fun: the Diamondbacks escape the Cactus League, instead playing a night game against Team Mexico at Salt River Field. It's going to televised by Fox Sports Arizona, and will be screened on the MLB Network, so you've got no excuse! It will also be the TV debuts of our new commentators, Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly..