Dear MLB Network
Yeah, it's cool that you're showing spring training games. But why was the start of today's Diamondbacks game on your channel held back for an hour? What was so amazingly pressing about your screening, for approximately the eight-millionth time, of a documentary on the Negro Leagues, that it couldn't be held back for another occasion?
Really: if you're going to show the games on tape-delay, rather than live, why not delay them a bit longer, and have them on in the evenings when people will be able to appreciate them? After all, from 9-10pm EST tonight, it's the Florida Marlins installment of Thirty Clubs in Thirty Days for the fifth time today - with a sixth showing of this episode on at midnight. You should consider retitling the show Thirty Screenings in Thirty Hours of Thirty Clubs in Thirty Days. Heaven forbid you replace another chance to appreciate this televisual feast with...oh, I dunno, an actual baseball game.
You also might want to have a word with the broadcast team in Cleveland, who were apparently largely unaware that the opponents this afternoon were the Arizona Diamondbacks, referring to them repeatedly as the Astros. I know its spring training, but if this is the level of coverage we can expect, you'd be better of not bothering with these local feeds. A certain level of homerism is to be expected, but this was rank incompetence, and reflects very badly on all concerned.
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Jim McLennan, and the somewhat disgruntled fans in Arizona
Another aspect of spring training was apparent in today's game: the error-strewn slugfest with C-grade pitching. 26 players used by Arizona this afternoon, one more than yesterday, thanks to the additional pitcher we used, and the teams combined for 28 hits and 24 runs, nine of the latter being unearned thanks to five errors from the players. Not exactly a fundamentally sound pitching duel, shall we say. Still, at least it was on TV - albeit with the issues described above, and only up until my scheduled Tivo recording ended after three hours - so it was nice to see our boys in action for the first time.
Felipe Lopez led off the game with a single the other way, but was erased trying to steal second with one man out, and it wasn't even that close. The Diamondbacks got a lucky break leading off the second, the left-fielder losing a fly-ball from Jackson in the sun, turning an out into a double. Upton ended a lengthy, ten-pitch at-bat with a ball hit to the right of the infield, and when the Indians' pitcher missed the toss after going across to cover first, CoJack got to come home for the opening score.
Meanwhile, on the mound for Arizona, Dan Haren got the start and allowed only one hit in two innings, though that one hit did lead the park, a solo shot in the second. He was mostly throwing fastballs, but did mix in some curveballs, a pitch which he said he has been having trouble with so far this season. "That's the pitch that's been giving me the most problems in bullpens -- throwing the curveball for a strike, and that's one thing I do really, really well during the season." He certainly made DeRosa look foolish, getting him to swing at a splitter around his ankles.
Doug Davis did not have a good outing - it was supposed to last two innings, but ended up getting lifted one out into the second frame, having faced twelve batters and retired only four of them. DD was phlematic: "They just came out swinging the bats, and I pretty much got hurt on first-pitch fastballs every time, it seemed like. They didn't really watch many pitches -- they just were swinging. Mentally and physically, I feel great, and that's the important part." Not quite so sure many of the hits were on the first pitch, but otherwise, absolutely. While you want your rotation to do well, even in spring training, rather than allowing five earned runs in 1.1 innings, things like that are gonna happen.
Having been dropped into a 7-3 hole at the end of four innings, things looked fairly bleak for the Diamondbacks. But they scored two in the fifth and two in the sixth to tie things up, and although Leyson Septimo allowed two runs on a hit, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth, to give Cleveland back the lead, he still ended up with the W. That's because Arizona tore apart veteran Tomo Ohka in the seventh, piling up six runs on seven hits. Whitesell had the Diamondbacks' only home run of the day, but his inability to get the ball out of his glove on a pick-off from Septimo goes against him - our outfielder turned pitcher would have escaped the inning unscathed.
More aggression on the base-paths, though with mixed results. Mark Reynolds stole second, off a left-hander no less, and then took third-base as well. However, as noted above, leadoff hittter Lopez got caught, and we also lost Josh Wilson, who got caught wondering off second. However, since the non-roster invitee went 3-for-3, we'll give him some slack. Lopez, Ryan Roberts, Luke Carlin and Jackson all had two hits apiece, with Rusty Ryal reaching twice on a hit and a walk.
After Haren and Davis, the rest of the pitchers, save Septimo, did solid work. Tony Barnette looked good in an unexpectedly extended outing, with his only hit allowed being a bloop double to right-center. And after Septimo, we got three perfect innings from Newby, Brown and Marte - who sound more like a law firm than anything else. Newby and Marte each fanned two of the three hitters they faced, though by the time they came in for the seventh and ninth innings, anyone remotely resembling a major-league player was already showered, dressed and nibbling on the buffet.
It runs the Diamondbacks' record this spring to 2-0, and resulted in a surprisingly-lively Gameday Thread, with over 300 comments - we've had regular season games with fewer than that. Tomorrow's game might be interesting too: we'll get to see Brandon Webb, and Jon Garland will make his first appearance in an Arizona uniform, with Daniel Schlereth also scheduled to appear against the White Sox at Tucson Electric Park. So might run a thread for that one as well, even though it won't be on TV or radio.