When we do our SnakePit Fantasy Baseball draft in a few weeks, it's going to be interesting to see exactly how high Conor Jackson gets picked. There seems to be a serious amount of optimism regarding Jackon's prospects for the upcoming season, and today will have done nothing to dispell that. He started off with a two-run triple in the first, as part of a Diamondbacks' four-run inning. That, alone, is worthy of note: we oohed over his stolen base on Sunday, but triples have been even rarer, with just two in his 310-game major-league career. Going by recent events, it looks as if the off-season training regime - already apparent over the weekend in the pair of tree-trunks attached to Jackson's shoulders - may have also boosted his speed.
Jackson then capped that, coming to the plate with the bases-loaded in the fourth, and smacking a grand-slam off the appropriately-named Loe in the fourth. That gave Arizona a 9-2 lead, and we cruised to victory thereafter, in the first non-Tucson game of the year for the team, at Surprise Stadium. [When I am driving around the 101 and see the signs for that town, I always feel there is somehow an exclamation mark is missing... Surprise!] Also getting in on the fun were Chris Snyder, who had two hits including his second homer of the year, and Justin Upton, who followed Jackson's first-inning triple with a homer of his own.
Not so happy was Emilio Bonifacio, hit on the head by a wild pitch from Texas starter Gabbard. He was flat on his back for several minutes after having had his bell rung, but eventually got up and walking, with some assistance, to the clubhouse. He seems to be okay, though after the game was bearing the scars of his encounter. Never a good thing when a player gets clocked like that. Stephen Drew also missed the game, being scratched from the line up because of "flu-like symptoms". This always seemed like a questionable term: either they're flu symptoms, or they're not; I'm not quite sure where this middle-ground of "flu-like" appeared from.
Meanwhile, Brandon Webb took the mound for his second start of spring, and was his usual sinkerful self, getting eight of the nine outs on groundballs, with the ninth coming on a strikeout. He did allow two runs in his three innings, on four hits, but he seemed happy: "Yeah, that's kind of where I want to be. Basically just trying to get ahead and get some early groundball outs... I just got a little work in, threw some curveballs in there. I didn't get a chance to throw any the first game." After that, we got to see our new 7-8-9 guys, in Qualls, Peña and Lyon, though for some reason they sent them out with Lyon as the meat in the sandwich. Remarkably uniform lines:
Qualls, Lyon and Peña, each: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K
Billy Buckner gave us a scoreless seventh and eighth, before the Petit Unit allowed a run on three hits in the ninth.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Surprise area, Randy Johnson threw another session of batting practice, 36 pitches split to simulate two innings. Jesus Mercham apparently hit a homer off Johnson, from the first pitch of the second batch. No word on whether the one came in high and tight, but even if he never makes it to the majors, Mercham can now always say he homered off a Hall of Fame pitcher. He might do well to not mention that fact that it was on a back field, in spring training. Johnson said afterwards, "Everything has been a step in the right direction, no setbacks or anything. My endurance has come along. We'll see how things go from there, but obviously the next step would be to pitch in a game. When? I don't know, but soon hopefully." That could be as early as Monday. Kewl. Not least because that would probably make his next appearance on Saturday. When we'll be there...
Finally, I know it's only spring training, and stats are entirely meaningless, but I just wanted to share this thoroughly amusing line from yesterdays Giants-Rangers contest.
Lowry: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 SO, 9 BB
Let me repeat that. Noah Lowry gave up four runs, all earned, without allowing a single hit - because he walked nine of the twelve batters he faced. This included the first five, and it took 25 pitches to provoke a swing from the Rangers hitters. They batted around without recording an official at-bat, on seven walks and two sacrifice flies. That brings Lowry's spring totals to 58 balls, 27 strikes and 12 walks over 2 1/3 innings. Is anyone else heartily amused by this?