Our turn to cough up a lead here: Arizona took a three-run lead in the second, on an RBI double by Chris Burke and a two-run single from Orlando Hudson. However, Kansas City chipped away at that, after Dan Haren left the game, and had tied the game by the bottom of the ninth inning. Jailen Peguero came in to take over there...and lasted exactly one pitch, Ryan Shealy swatting his very first offering out to left, for a walkoff home-run. Not quite the effort we hoped for, and can not even really be counted as getting his work in.
Dan Haren was pretty solid, posting three scoreless innings with two hits, a walk and three strikeouts. According to Steve Gilbert, Haren is working on elevating his fastball. Haren usually goes to a split-fingered fastball down in the zone, as his strikeout pitch, but this extra weapon in his arsenal could help keep hitters honest. Said Haren, "I focus so much on staying low in the zone, it's something I've just kind of beat into my brain, and [pitching coach Bryan Price] wants me to elevate once in a while." Hard to say whether anything will come of this, but it's what spring training is about.
After Haren left the game, Fruto took over and allowed two unearned runs in his two innings: the error which led to the scores was charged to him, as he bobbled the ball covering first - but shoe was at the game, and reported over on DBBP that Jackson was lucky not to be tagged with the E. [Oden also posted some pics from the game]. Ambriz allowed a home-run in his two innings of work, but Medders continued his impressive run with a perfect eighth innings. Said Melvin, "He's going right after guys. I know it's Spring Training, but still it just seems like he's re-energized and re-focused for a guy that a couple of years ago was really quite the prospect."
At the plate, Chris Snyder continued his torrid start to the season, going 2-for-2; his 18 total bases thus far is trailing only Tori Hunter in the majors this spring. [While scoping that out, a quick nod to the Giants' Ryan Rohlinger: he has only had one at-bat this spring, but homered against the Cubs. Oh, as a pinch-hitter. And did I mention it was a grand-slam? Somewhat related, today's trivia: Keith McDonald played eight games for St. Louis in 2000 and 2001, going 3-for-9. What is his claim to fame?] Chris Burke went 2-for-3 as the DH, though in contrast to the game we saw where he batted lead-off, was down in the #8 spot today.
One week into Spring Training, and time to take a look at who's impressing - or otherwise - among our players. I trust I need not go into the obvious caveats here: firstly, small sample size, and secondly, it's spring training. As a reality check, last year, Alberto Callaspo, Miguel Montero and Brian Barden hit .396 or better in the Cactus League. How did that work out/ So, really, this is more for amusement than anything significant. That said - first, the hitters and then the pitchers. All figures are through Thursday.
- Chris Snyder: 8-for-13, 2 HR, 18 total bases
- Geraldo Parra: 8-for-13
Emilio Bonifacio: 6-for-14, 1.185 OPS
- Jeff Salazar: 2-for-13, .586 OPS
- Augie Ojeda: 4-for-18, .485 OPS
- Robby Hammock: 1-for-11, 0 BB, 3 K
- Dan Haren: 5 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- Bill Murphy: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
Brandon Medders: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
- Jailen Peguero: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Barry Enright: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
- Dustin Nippert: 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Long article on Eric Byrnes outside the sports section in the Republic, talking mostly about how marriage won't change him. I have to say, being Mrs. Eric Byrnes would seem to be the kind of job that would tax the patience of St. Penelope of the Cross, but new wife Tarah - they got married during the off-season - dated for seven years, so I imagine she has got a fair idea of what to expect! She says, "It wasn't traditional, but I don't believe Eric and I are, in a lot of ways. It took me a long time to get that he wasn't dating a new girl in a new port. His character is above it." Y'know, I don't doubt that for a moment: there seems general agreement that what you see with Byrnes is basically exactly what you get.
Monthly chat with Derrick Hall on the D'backs site today - looks like dstorm got in a couple of questions! Couple of interesting points, not least regarding concession prices, long a personal sore point. According to Hall, "We are working on pricing with our concessionaire now. We have asked them to reduce the price of every item on their menus and they have agreed to do so." Emphasis added. Assuming this is not a token nickel-and-dime reduction, I think I speak for all fans, when I say, 'W00t.' Given the relentless trend of price increases, that is a significant win and may force me to rethink our plans to picnic at the park. Now, if he can just expand the $4 beer offer to include something that resembles actual beer... Stella Artois or Pilsner Urquell would be fine. K THX BAI. :-)
He also talks about the club's relationship with Mexico, and seems keen to make the Hermosillo trip an annual one. "It actually takes less time to bus to the airport, fly there, play the game, fly back, and bus back to the complex than it does to travel and play in Surprise," according to Hall. Though this probably says more about Surprise than it does about Hermosillo. He also mentioned the warm-up game against Mexican champions, the Monterrey Sultanes, the Saturday before Opening Day, saying "with all of our Hispanic marketing efforts, we hope this will attract a few new fans to try out a game at Chase." Well, I guess at least having most of the crowd cheering for the visitors, will be good practice for the Cubs series. [Though must say, that proved much less so in 2007 than previously - a trend I want to see continue in 2008]
Finally, the answer to the trivia question, what's Keith McDonald's claim to fame? His 3-for-9 career figure is not especially memorable - except that all three hits were homers. He also tied a record, by homering in his first two major league at-bats. He was with the Yankees AAA affiliated in 2006, but seems to have now retired, so his immaculate record looks safe. And today's comment starter: ballpark food. What's your favorite, either at Chase or any other park?