The drought has finally ended here in Phoenix; it seems to have been raining much of the night. And with the kind of particularly moist (or so it seems), intense rain more often seen in London than Arizona. Serious precipitation as it were, not the usual five-minute microburst representing all the weather for March. Today it is cold, damp and miserable: this must be what living in Seattle is like. :-) However, it's a very welcome, refreshing change, though it is - literally - a drop in the bucket after almost five months without rain.
Nippert wasn't exactly spanked yesterday, in the 6-5 loss to the Brewers (only our second of the year), but by all accounts, his performance was unremarkable at best. He went into the third innings, being yanked there after facing three batters, failing to retire and of them, and hitting the third man up. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings, striking out three.
The Banana says Nippert "didn't have his best stuff and struggled with his control... He's still a little slow to home, and hitters jumped all over that." The Brewers were 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts off the Nippert/Estrada battery, but I note that Montero gunned two thieves down later in the game, with Aquino pitching. All the talk of Montero has been his bat, but this would suggest his arm is no shrivelled appendage either.
Steven Jackson came into the based-loaded, no-one out jam, and gave up two walks, but only one run, thanks to a double-play. [Welcome to the part of the paragraph where I pretend to know all about Steven Jackson, when in reality, I am simply pulling stats out of my ass. :-)] A seriously fringe prospect, he posted a 5.33 ERA for South Bend last year. Perhaps most remarkable about Jackson, is that he was picked in not one, not two but three drafts, by three different teams: Tampa Bay (38th round, 2000); Cleveland (32nd, 2003); and Arizona (10th, 2004).
Warm, fuzzy glow time followed on the mound, as Heredia continued to suck, allowing three hits, a walk and two earned runs over two innings. Mulholland looks to be well ahead in the battle of lefties, though as noted by Levski, if Vargas gets the fifth spot in the rotation, Halsey could be lefty/long-relief. Aquino kept the Brewers off the board in the sixth and seventh, but Koplove took the loss on two hits and wild pitch, which allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth.
For the second day in a row, we didn't have any home runs, but did get twelve hits, including a triple by Montero. Chris Carter continued his sterling work, going 2-for-2, while Easley and Quentin were both 2-for-3. Clark had a two-RBI double in the top of the first, to give us our only (brief) lead of the day.
A lot of very interesting comments and news following yesterday's column, so thanks to everyone for that. To briefly summarize, the Banana reports, "Jeff DaVanon will be the primary backup outfielder at all three positions, Melvin indicated. That likely means Luis Terrero, who is out of options, will be traded or be designated for assignment by the end of camp." Melvin also said that, "If Stephen [Drew] were here, he'd play...It comes down to the Counsell situation."
However, Upton may be about to break camp, as the minor league version opens, in order to get more playing time. There's no doubt he's impressed almost everyone who has seen him, going 6-for-10 with six RBIs, despite being barely old enough to buy cigarettes. And a piece in the Boston Globe says the Red Sox are talking to Arizona about a deal for catcher Koyie Hill, though nothing is imminent. Hill is third on the depth-chart - with Montero closing fast - and his departure might help free up a roster spot on the 40-man.
That is something which will have to be addressed, if Terry Mulholland makes the team, since he isn't on the roster. There are 20 pitchers on the 40-man roster, but not much wiggle room there: Slaten might be about the only one who could clear waivers (well, Russ Ortiz would, but that dream is right up there with the one I used to have - before becoming a happily married man, naturally - which involved Denise Richards and a vat of chocolate pudding). Trading Terrero and/or Hill for a non-roster prospect would seem like a better alternative.
America duly delivered the required thrashing of South Africa, in the most one-sided game of the first round, and move on to the second phase, where they'll face Japan, Korea and Mexico again. It's kinda weird: I'd have thought they'd have one team from each group in the next phase, rather than doubling up. As is, it's quite possible that the US-Cuba matchup might never happen: the Cubans looked nowhere near as much a force as anticipated, after their 12-2 clubbing by Puerto Rico. Facing them once more, as well as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic could see Cuba going home before the semis. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea looks like the final, based on first round performances, but as we've seen, it all comes down to who plays better on the day.