As promised, the latest AFL update, since they're off playing the All-Star game tonight, in front of what will undoubtedly be a packed house in Surprise this evening. [An extra slice of sarcasm? Oh, don't mind if I do...] Actually, they're claiming 2,000 tickets have already been sold, though I wonder how many will turn up, given World Series Game 5 is now playing opposite it - and I imagine the cost of the tickets would hardly be a huge financial loss. Still, must say, two thousand is far more than I expected, given the average AFL attendance this year is just 235, and can be a lot lower, as we'll see shortly. If the World Series isn't up to much, you can listen to the AFL All-Star game here, starting 7pm AZ time.
All three AZ position players got selected, Mark Reynolds as a late injury replacement. Danny Richar and James D'Antona were also chosen; at first, that's surprised me, until I discovered it appears how you performed in the AFL is irrelevant. The rosters were chosen from "players that were either selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft or made their respective league All-Star teams this past season." That includes none of our hurlers, though the AFL is such a hitter-oriented setup, I can't say I'm too concerned. If you're pitching in the Arizona Fall League, there's usually something "wrong" with you: you're rehabbing after injury, need to work on something mechanical, etc.
Got four games worth of action to catch up on, so without further ado. Monday saw the Scottsdale Scorpions go down, 5-3, to the Peoria Saguaros. Richar got the day off, but Reynolds and D'Antona were both hitless. In a forgettable day for AZ prospects, none of our pitchers even got to take the mound. Things were more eventful on Tuesday, with the Peoria Javelinas visiting Scottsdale, but being dispatched by a healthy margin, the final score being 12-6. The Scorpions pounded out 17 hits; Richar went 1-for-6, while D'Antona, who came in batting just .107, was 2-for-5 with a double. Matt Elliott pitched a scoreless seventh, but Chris Kinsey's scoreless streak came to an abrupt end in the eighth, as he allowed three runs on four hits, including a homer, and a wild pitch. As Scottdale had an 11-2 lead at the time, however, the damage was minimal. The crowd for that game numbered the princely total of 169; that was actually the best AFL attendance of the day, with the other two games being seen by 111 and 85 people...
Wednesday saw the Scorpion post another win, this time 7-5 in Mesa, against the Solar Sox. However, this was, once again, a disappointing set of performances: Richar was dropped to the #2 spot and went 0-for-5, while Reynolds played first-base, and went 0-for-3, though did get a walk and scored a run. Steven Jackson got the start, and disappointed on the mound: he pitched three innings, but allowed runs in all of them. He gave up a total of four runs on four hits and two walks - three of those hits went for extra-bases, including a two-run homer. He definitely seems to be a work in progress, rather than the proto-Webb we hoped for.
Finally, the Scorpions extended their undefeated streak to three games on Thursday, fighting their way to a 6-6 tie versus the Grand Canyon River Rafters. Scottsdale scored two runs in the eighth, the tying run being driven in by Reynolds, and the sides exchanged zeroes for the next three innings after that, before the contest was called off after eleven frames, as laid down in AFL rules. Each team had used seven relievers by that point, so the benches were getting pretty thin. Lots of action for AZ, though Richar was hitless in six at-bats. D'Antona (1-for-5) drove in two runs with a single, and Reynolds fell a homer short of the cycle, going 4-for-6 to boost his average back up to .340. Schultz, Elliott and Kinsey each pitched a scoreless inning, with Elliott fanning the side, around a hit and a walk.
Something I didn't realise, is that the Diamondbacks also have prospects playing in the Hawaii Winter League. Okay, let's be honest: how many of you even knew there was a Hawaii Winter League? Well, you do now. Pitcher Kyler Newby, catcher Josh Ford, and outfielder Chris Rahl are working on their skills there, in between strumming their ukeleles and eating roast pig, I imagine. ;-)
World Series Game 5 is now under way, with the Cardinals looking to clinch. Viva El Birdos points out that the series is actually much closer than the 3-1 score suggests: the Cardinals have only outscored the Tigers 12-9 in earned runs, but have outwalked their opponents by the rather larger margin of 19-6 over the first four games. Larry says, "The Cardinals came into this tournament with nothing to lose, and they haven't played a single scared inning all month." Meanwhile, Mark at Bless You Boys says his team are "desperate for wins, desperate for hits, desperate for good fielding and overall desperate for some sort of consistent success at something."
100 mph heater or not, Zumaya's stock has fallen sharply after his last couple of appearances; his error led to two crucial runs in Game 3, and he then took the loss in Game 4. While no denying his raw stuff, we'll see if these setbacks, at the worst time imaginable, have any lasting impact. I think he'll bounce back: it's far from the worst performance by a young pitcher in the World Series, as Diamondbacks fans doubtless remember - the pessimist in me, however, mutters that the difference is, we won... Still, I expect Zumaya to return next year, better than ever. Good job he's in the American League, that's all I can say!