Record: 1-0. Change on 2013: +1.
Yeah, that game had pretty much everything we could want. Beat the Dodgers? Check. Slap Kershaw around a bit? Check. Y*s**l P**g screwing things up? Check. 73 degrees, partly cloudy? Double check. Even starter Brandon McCarthy opted to stick around a bit longer than usual, working four innings rather than the expected three, and pitching pretty well for a debut. He held Los Angeles to four hits and a walk, with a pair of strikeouts, and one run allowed. He was helped out by a diving catch to get things started in left field by Mark Trumbo. Yep. Surely a Gold Glove must be all but certain for the Trumbosaurus Rex now! Hey, if you can't over-react after the first game of spring...
Meanwhile, the offense did a pretty good job dealing with Clayton Kershaw, who was sent packing after only getting through two innings. He allowed three runs on five hits, with a walk and two strikeouts, though unlike McCarthy, didn't exactly get much help from his defense - Carl Crawford in particular, but to quote Mark Saxon, "The Dodgers outfielders look as if they spent a lot of time on their couches this winter." A two-out double by Martin Prado scored Aaron Hill with the opening run of 2014 in the first. Two more came home in the second, on an RBI triple by A.J. Pollock, immediately followed by a Hill single.
The D-backs used their A-bullpen after McCarthy left the game, our three closers each coming in and working a scoreless inning. First, there was Opening Day 2013 closer, J.J. Putz, who walked one and struck out one - a much earlier appearance for him this year, guess they're serious about getting him more work. Then there was final 2013 closer Brad Ziegler, who started as he presumably means to go on, getting P**g to ground out, in a perfect sixth inning. Finally, there was potential 2014 closer Addison Reed, who wobbled a bit, putting two runners in scoring position, albeit around a pair of strikeouts, before getting the third out on a line-drive to our right fielder, and also escaping with a zero.
I was pretty much spot-on with my assessment that our starters would do the five and dive, as there was an almost complete swap-out of the Arizona line-up for the top of the sixth inning. That included the arrival of both contenders for the shortstop position: Didi Gregorius played short, while Chris Owings occupied the other side of the middle infield at second. Again, early days, but interesting to see him there. Nothing to separate them based on today's box-score. Both made outs in the sixth, but each man then got a single in the eighth, Owings coming around to score on an RBI single by Shelley Duncan, completing our tallies for the day.
Joe Thatcher allowed a one-out single while striking out the side in the eighth, and Josh Collmenter - inevitably - appeared, notching a save with a 1-2-3 ninth on three fly balls to the outfield, both men facing a veritable "Who's he?" of Dodgers hitters. Still, good to see our bullpen work five shutout innings of three-hit ball, with one walk and six K's - plus, when you're playing Los Angeles, there's no such thing as a meaningless victory. There was no apparent sign of any animosity between the two teams, the nearest thing to a plunking probably being a wild pitch uncorked by Putz in the fifth.
A solid crowd of 10,306 was in attendance to kick things off at Salt River Fields, and things really get into the swing tomorrow with Arizona playing twice, both games on the road. They face the Dodgers again over on the West Side, at Camelback Ranch, and will also help the Cubs officially open Merkle's Boner, or whatever they're calling the new stadium down in Mesa. It's the same 1:05pm start time, and we might have a GDT after all, considering today's one had over 200 comments. Hell, we had some regular-season games last year that didn't reach as many... Such is the spirit of spring hope!
If you missed it - or simply want to enjoy it again - the game will be replayed on the MLB Network at 7pm Arizona time. Anyone care to wager on the outcome?