I don't usually swear much in my writing. It's not that I find any given word "offensive", it's more that I learned a valuable lesson about bad language in my teenage years, when something dumb I did finally provoked my mother into using an expletive. Even though it was nothing particularly nasty - you'd hear worse on basic cable these days - I paid attention, simply because it came from someone who didn't curse. If every other word is the F-bomb, you lose a valuable weapon in your vocabulary, for there are times when a well-placed swearword is the writer's friend. And having said that:
Russ Ortiz pitched shit last night.
Let's review, shall we? He went through the entire line-up of nine Red Sox hitters, eight of whom reached base. He walked four straight, including two with the bases loaded. Final line:
1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 6 R, 6 ER
This was not his first spring start. This was supposed to be a final tune-up, but between him and Vazquez yesterday, our 1+2 pitchers threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed fifteen earned runs. This is not good.
Having said that, there were some positive notes to be taken from the game, as noted by William K in the comments. The clearest was one Troy Glaus, whose swing is one of the most easy, well-oiled I have seen in a long time. The two home runs he swatted off Bronson Arroyo were things of beauty, and a genuine joy to behold. Five RBIs brings his total for spring to 29, in only 54 at-bats. Project that rate over a full season, and you're looking at 250+ RBIs...of course, he'd likely have to keep hitting at his current .426 clip for that. ;-) Luis Gonzalez had three hits too, and seems to have got his early kinks straightened out.
After Ortiz, the rest of our pitchers kept the Red Sox in check, allowing only three earned runs over the remaining 8 2/3 innings. Mike Schultz, pressed into a fire-fighter's role, pitched 2 2/3 shutout frames: he wobbled occasionally, but got some help, such as the lineout double-play in the first that tidied up Ortiz's mess. Villarreal again looked poor, three hits, two walks and two runs in two innings of work. He should not be on the final 25-man roster.
Down in Tucson, Mike Gosling may have staked his claim to the #5 spot, with four innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and walked one. Five D'backs picked up multiple hits on the way to an 8-6 victory - not the least being Gosling, who went 2-for-2, scoring and driving in a run - while Matt Kata hit a three-run homer. Osborne showed why he won't be pitching in the bigs, with four hits, two walks and four runs in only 1 2/3, and Shane Nance got the save, despite allowing a ninth-innings run.
Today should see the final significant decision made on the roster: Halsey/Gosling for the fifth spot in the rotation? I think the latter may just have overtaken Halsey down the final stretch. I appreciated Halsey's comment after his poor last start: "The reality of the situation was I didn't perform like I'm capable of, or like I really needed to. A major issue in this game is consistency from your starting pitchers and I didn't deliver." The guy really should learn to stop being honest with journalists like this.
And a quick tip of the hat to Hardball Times for mentioning us in their Five Questions piece about AZ, and also Black Table for picking us as the best AZ blog in their baseball preview. Though after Stefan's amazing preview on Random Fandom in limerick form, I feel hardly worthy. Mind you, I've already started on 2006's preview, which will be in iambic pentameter. In High Elvish. ;-)