Maybe it's for the best that Brandon Webb was held out of the line-up due to tightness in his right forearm. I think every Diamondback fan can be forgiven if their stomach did a quick front-flip as a result of hearing this news, because if something happens to Webb, our chances of the team going anywhere this season, just got a whole lot slimmer. Still, no-one seemed particularly concerned, Chris Snyder going so far as to tease his battery-mate mercilessly, saying: "He just saw that I wasn't catching today and he didn't want to throw to someone else. He got all boo-boo-lipped and said he couldn't pitch."
Webb thinks he may have tweaked his arm throwing a few cutters earlier in the week. It felt a good deal better today, and he was able to play catch and long-toss, without significant issues. He has a scheduled bullpen on Sunday, so we'll keep an eye on that - his next turn in the rotation would be Wednesday, when the Diamondbacks face Team Mexico in a World Baseball Classic warmup game. I think we'll all breathe a lot easier if that one goes smoothly and Webb is back on track, even though, as he says, "We’ve got so much extra time it’s not a big deal." I beg to differ. Anything involving Webb is a big deal.
Maybe he just had a premonition and realized it was not a good day to be a pitcher for Arizona. We used seven pitchers, six of whom allowed earned runs and four of them gave up homers to the White Sox hitters - a warm day and a breeze out towards right-field probably didn't help matters there. Things started off okay, with Garland posting a zero in the top of the first: little did we know that the next time a Diamondbacks pitcher would see one of those on the board, it'd be the penultimate frame of the day, and the score at that point would be 9-0 in favor of the South siders.
Hard to comment much on whether the pitching was bad, unlucky, or a combination of the two. However, the thing that stands out in the box-score about Jon Garland's outing is this: six ground-outs, zero fly-outs. The only ball the White Sox hit in the air was Viciedo's solo homer which led off the second, off a cutter with which Garland is experimenting this spring. Otherwise, it looks like Garland's main task is to get ready to pitch at Chase, and judging by today's results, he seems to be getting there. Whether our infield defense is up to it remains to be seen: Chad Tracy was at third today, and quickly made his first error there. However, having made only two starts at the position all last season, some rust is inevitable.
Garland's solid performance was soon forgotten as, just like yesterday, the next couple of innings proved to be a bit of a disaster: once again, the opposition scored two in the third and three in the fourth. The culprits this time were Doug Slaten and Jon Rauch, both men allowing three hits, including a home-run each, and a walk in their respective inning of work. The former is on the bubble as far as a spot in the 'pen goes, Scott Scheoeneweis having the inside track on the LOOGY role this season. Rauch, however, is being leaned on a potential set-up man for Chad Qualls, though will need to show the epic level of fail which he represented last season for Arizona, was an aberration. Today was not a good start in that process.
Daniel Schlereth and Jailen Peguero were better only by comparison. The former had two hits and a balk in his inning, while the latter pitched two frames, allowing a run in each, on a total of three hits. Then, a miracle: Clay Zavada, our resurrected prospect, did what Arizona couldn't manage for the previous six consecutive innings; deliver a scoreless frame. Indeed, it was even hitless, the only blemish being a walk. Normal service was, however, resumed in the ninth, Jon Coutlangus giving up three more hits - for those of you keeping score, that's a total of fifteen against our pitchers this afternoon, including four home-runs.
There was no stirring comeback by the batters to match yesterday; we had just six hits, no walks and no runs through the first eight innings, before Brandon Watson finally drove in Pedro Ciriaco in the bottom of the ninth to end the shutout. Steven Drew and Evan Frey had two hits, each delivering a single and a double, but this was a far cry from the offensive juggernaut which rolled its way over the Cleveland Indians yesterday. The lack of base-runners probably helps explain the lack of stolen-base attempts, notable by their absence this afternoon.
In a minor note of cheer, this wasn't the biggest can of whoop-ass opened on a team in the NL West in Arizona today. The Dodgers lost even worse to Seattle, the final margin there being 18-2 - Shawn Estes was the most obvious victim, allowing seven runs in 1.1 innings. Indeed, everyone in the division was beaten this afternoon, being outscored by a total of 44-10 over the five games. So, in that light, 10-1 doesn't seem quite so bad.
Our weekend plans involve going down to Tucson tomorrow evening, and then taking in Sunday's game at TEP against the A's. I think the hotel has wi-fi, so should be able to deal with Gameday Threads, though the attendance in the one today was notably lighter than the first couple of games, and I may or may not bother over the weekend. If I haven't, and anyone else feels like starting one, that'd be fine by me. Other stuff is scheduled instead, as a break from doing recaps.