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Diamondbacks 6, Brewers 8 - Dead Reckoning

Great moral dilemmas, #67. As noted previously, we have tickets for Saturday afternoon's Arizona Diamondbacks game at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Angels. Randy will be making his second start of Spring Training, and I'm very curious to see how that goes, needless to say. However, Chris has a funeral/memorial service to go to, starting at 11am on Saturday morning. Now, neither of us would be quite so callous as to attend the event in our D-backs shirts. But I don't know how long these kind if things go: I have been to exactly one in my entire life, that of my grandmother, and so hardly have much experience. So, the - purely hypothetical as yet - question much of a social faux pas would it be, to leave a funeral early?

Doing so, in order to attend a baseball game - and a Spring Training game at that - might seem like the height of callousness. But, I want to point out, I never actually met the deceased. He's the father of a close friend and workmate of Mrs. SnakePit, so any relationship is purely through her. To be honest, I would feel somewhat hypocritical to be going at all, given my complete lack of any personal knowledge of the subject - though Chris has pointed out that the funeral is not for the dead, it's for those left behind. These tickets were also bought months ago, after checking with Mrs. SnakePit that the date was indeed free. Now, obviously, subsequent events could not be legislated for, but you can hopefully understand the potential issue here. I am hopeful, however, that it won't be an problem: since the funeral is at 11, we should be fine. Unless the memorial service goes into extra innings. :-)

Back in the land of the living, the wheels fell off the Meddersmobile this afternoon, in no uncertain fashion, Brandon allowing five runs in one inning, on five hits, including three for extra-bases, and a hit batter. That certainly drops him back in the race between him and Nippert for the final bullpen spot. They have similarly mediocre lines (Nippert: nine hits and six ER in 5.1 innings; Medders: the same in 6 innings), but thus far Medders has at least shown decent control, with no walks and five K's, compared to Nippert's eight walks and three K's. Medder's muddle blew a three-run lead for the D-backs and dropped them their fifth loss in six games. Their overall record is now 6-10-1, ahead only of the Giants in the Cactus League. I know it's Spring Training, and yet...

Micah Owings got the start; he was somewhat better than last time, but still struggled and had to be relieved before the end of the third. In his 2.2 innings, Owings allowed three runs (on unearned) on five hits and three walks, with four K's. He loaded the bases with one out in the first, but got back-to-back strikeouts to escape the jam. It looks like the experiment shifting Owings to the other side of the rubber is over, as he shifted back today. "I tried it, but I felt like I was fighting my body to throw to my glove side, kind of fighting against myself instead of nice and easy, which is me and which is a very important part of how I pitch, being able to hit that glove side consistently."

Another key question is getting Owings' changeup to work, in order to give him a reliable third pitch, and help him go through the rotation a third time. [Last year, opponents batted .199 first time round; .270 the second time; and .321 after that, so they clearly got more comfortable the more they saw of Micah] According to Melvin, "He threw more changeups, some good, some not great," but it's perhaps worth also including the rest of Melvin's comments:

It seemed like his fastball was getting out of his hand better... Just looking at his stuff, I thought it was a little better, but obviously with as many pitches as he had in the time that he was out there, his command wasn't great. Right now he's going through a little bit of a funk as far as his command. That's never really been an issue with him. He's always been pretty good about throwing the ball over the plate. We'll try to stretch him out a little more next time and hopefully he has better command of his fastball.

Being economical is definitely a key to Owings' success: he had too many outings last season where he'd be passing ninety pitches after throwing four-plus innings. His overall average last year was 16.3 pitches per, which feels high for someone who isn't a big strikeout guy and didn't have that big a WHIP. [Curiously, the top three among those with 100+ IP all had an Arizona connection: Byung-Hyun Kim, Claudio vargas and Doug Davis, who all definitely fall into the latter category] Owings' average of 3.82 pitches per plate appearance, is above average too. though again trails Davis, at 3.90.

Elsewhere in the game, a good effort by Gutierrez, allowin a single and a walk over three innings, while Peguero retired all four hitters he faced. Salazar got us on the board in the first, clearing the bases with a double, and added another hit later. Conor Jackson went 3-for-3, while Chris Burke continued to hit for power with his third homer of spring - that ties him for the team lead, with Chris Snyder. It was also Burke's 12th hit, again tied for best on the team, in that case with Jesus Merchan. Of course, while it doesn't mean anything, if he were to keep hitting at this rate once the season starts, the trade could turn out to be a real steal.

Bad news for Miguel Montero; a CAT scan on his injured finger revealed that he still isn't ready to resume baseball activity. According to Bob Melvin, it'll be another week, and that would only leave ten days before Opening Day. It is getting better, but the D-backs are being cautious with their catcher; that's sensible, because there is no need to rush him at this point and risk losing Montero for a more extended period. Robby Hammock can cover for a couple of weeks, and will provide a degree of comfort for Randy Johnson's first few starts - assuming the Big Unit is ready, of course.

In a somewhat related area, we only found out today about the Latino Béisbol Award Festival, which took place this evening at the Phoenix Art Museum. Miguel Batista is the honorary chair, so that's fun, right there. Also scheduled to attend were Miguel Quintana, who does the Spanish-language play-by-play for the D-backs on KSUN; Roberto Clemente's widow, Vera; and Linda Alvarado, the first woman to have a stake in an MLB team (the Rockies, to be specific) without inheriting the position. Mrs. SnakePit is still somewhat miffed she didn't get an invite to the event. :-)

Finally, minor-league baseball continues to prove that no viable marketing opportunity should ever be missed. The Macon Music independent baseball team are planning an Elliott Spitzer Night to "honor" the former governor of New York. Among the elements, fans with the name Eliot, Spitzer or Kristen, along with any fan from New York, will receive $1 off admission. Any fan who has ever resigned a position will also receive $1 off admission. The ninth fan into the ballpark - or Client No. 9, as Spitzer was known - will get a prize too. I do wonder if anyone will still remember Spitzer, as the promotion is not due to take place until June 13.

Today's comment starter. Have you ever had to decide between a sporting event and a significant alternative commitment? How did you resolve the conflict, and did you feel any guilt?