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Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 8 - Chris-mass at Easter

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Another heroic comeback by Arizona, this time ending somewhat happier for us. A 8-3 deficit in the bottom of the sixth was overturned, and became a 9-8 victory over the Dodgers, thanks largely to the efforts of Chris Snyder, who merely drove in six runs, with a pair of three-run homers - the latter came off a name you might remember, in Mike Koplove. That makes him the second D-back this spring to have a six RBI game, following the one enjoyed by Conor Jackson earlier this month. To put this into context, only three Arizona players have managed it during the past four regular seasons and 650 games: Micah Owings (his four hit, two HR game), Orlando Hudson (in a 15-4 blowout - literally: wind 12mph out to center - at Wrigley in July 2006), and Damion Easley (3 HR vs Atlanta in June 2006).

Randy Johnson got the start for the Diamondbacks, and really only made one mistake, which Andruw Jones deposited onto the picnic tables in left for a two-run shot. Maybe the Big Unit was peeved after Eric Byrnes let a pop fly bounce out of his glove to the previous batter. The first hit off Johnson was a double to the opposing pitcher, after 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball from him, but he struggled a bit the second time through the Dodgers line-up, and ended up being lifted, having reached his target pitch count (around 64), with two outs in the fourth inning. He'd allowed two earned runs, on five hits and two walks. Nick Piecoro describes Johnson's outing as, "All in all, not too bad. Certainly some things for him to take way and feel good about."

In what can hardly be called a surprise, reports Johnson won't be ready for the opener. It's a somewhat odd article, containing phrases like, "For better or worse, the two lines of Johnson's progression and the rotation's solidification may not immediately intersect." It also refers - in multiple locations - to a pitcher called "Martinez" as the likely replacement for the Big Unit. It appears they either mean Edgar Gonzalez, or I must have missed the blockbuster trade which brought Pedro to the desert. Melvin also all but confirmed Haren will follow Webb in the rotation, with Doug Davis at #3, and "then we'll see where we go from there." That would currently appear to be Owings and EdGon.

Another disturbing outing for Dustin Nippert, who has barely had a single credible appearance this spring. He allowed six hits and five earned runs in his inning of work, boosting his Cactus ERA to 14.63; he's now given up twenty hits and eleven walks in only eight innings. Just one pitcher in the majors has a worse spring ERA in as many innings; Sean Estes, who stands at 15.00. Brandon Medders, meanwhile, worked a scoreless 1.1 frames, with one hit. It's almost as if Nippert has no interest in making the 25-man roster, going by his lacklustre performances. At the moment, he would likely slip through waivers, untouched by any ten-foot bargepoles. [In a side note, Bill Murphy is now indeed an ex-Diamondback having been taken off waivers by Toronto. Best of luck in Canada, Bill. I also see that ex-Diamondback John Patterson was released by Washington on Thursday]

On a day like today, we could have done with a lineup of nine Snyders, but a couple of other hitters had decent games on a smaller scale. Justin Upton got in on the fun with a two-run homer, and went 2-for-3 with a walk; Conor Jackson also had a pair of hits and a free pass, while Chris Burke continued to impress with a hit and a walk from the leadoff spot. Johnson took his first at-bat of the year and went down on strikes, but did pick Juan Pierre off first-base. Snyder completed his good day by nailing two of the four Dodgers to try and steal a base, while Peguero and Goocher got the win and save respectively, combining for three shutout innings of one-hit ball.

Three weeks in now, and just another week to go, so it's time to take an updated look at the sinkers and floaters of Spring Training. As usual, we start with the hitters, then move on to the pitchers, and all stats are for games up to and including today:

  • Chris Snyder: .353/.436/.912, 5 HR, 12 RBI
  • Chris Burke: .378/.472/.756, 3 HR, 9 RBI
  • Justin Upton: .372/.449/.558, 2 HR, 9 RBI
  • Mark Reynolds: .209/.333/.395, 12 K
  • Stephen Drew: .189/.262/.459, 9 K
  • Robby Hammock: .171/.275/.286, 11 K
  • Edgar Gonzalez: 11 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
  • Yusmeiro Petit: 12.1 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 17 K
  • Jailen Peguero: 8 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 12 K
  • Billy Buckner: 13 IP, 17 H, 11 ER, 6 BB, 8 K
  • Micah Owings: 10.1 IP, 18 H, 13 ER, 9 BB, 9 K
  • Dustin Nippert: 8 IP, 20 H, 13 ER, 11 BB, 6 K

A quick rant. Those who want to complain about ticket-prices at Chase might do well to compare seats for the other pro sports in town. Such as the Coyotes; we thought about going to tomorrow night's game in Glendale, since the Hanson brothers, from Slapshot will be there. However, we discovered that if you would like an actual seat - as opposed to standing room only - the cheapest tickets available through their site are $76.35. Plus a $5.75 "Convenience Charge". And a $3.65 "Building Facility Charge". As Mrs. SnakePit put it, "We like the Hansons, but not that much." Instead, we'll go and see Doomsday, in which Glasgow is a post-apocalyptic, disease-infested wasteland, populated by mindless zombies and violent psychopaths. Must be a documentary. :-)

David Gassko takes a look at Batted balls and park effects over at the Hardball Times, and it turns out that parks affect more than just runs scored. For example, Petco is very K-friendly - 3rd best in the majors - while Chase is much less so, being 26th. If you adjust the strikeout numbers for Peavy and Webb to take this into account, Peavy fanned 222 last year, and Webb 209, compared to the raw figures of 240 and 194. On the hitting front, Chase did a good job of suppressing singles, but on outfield flies, doubles were 8% above average and triples a monstrous 42% higher than normal, over the past five years. Homers were also up 15%, verifying the belief that this is a hitter-friendly park; similar results applied to line-drives. Looks like our outfield trio will need all their speed this year.

Our migration to v2.0 of the site is now scheduled, and will take place some time on Sunday March 30th. I kinda figured it would make sense to do it on an off-day, and at the end of Spring Training seems an appropriate point at which to do it. I don't have an exact time for the changeover yet, but from what I've seen on the other sites, there will likely be a couple of hours of downtime, while the server pixies redecorate our lodgings here. It will then spring back up, with all content, etc. present once again. Thereby goes the theory. If it's anything like the migration at work, you will instead et a message that we are experiencing heavy call volumes and that a technical support representative will be with you shortly. But I have rather more faith in Trei and the new platform!

Finally, just for amusement, check out Minors Moniker Madness, in which 64 of the most unusual names in the minor-leagues go head-to-head with each other. Couple of names I recognise there, including Clint Goocher and Noochie Varner, though I have to say, they pale beside the likes of Zechry Zinicola or McyQuin Lora. Today's talking point What are your favorite names for baseball players, past or present? Or, indeed any famous individuals?