Just a quick report here, as I've only got about 30 minutes before we're heading off to a a comedy roast, of which SnakePit Jr. is the host. That promises to be quite a lot of fun, though I had the sudden realization that it left me with a lot to do today, since tomorrow will more or less entirely be taken up with Tucson. If not actually being there, then writing it all up when we return home. If previous outings are anything to go by, it promises to be a lot of fun.
The Diamondbacks saw their Cactus League record even up at 2-2 this afternoon, though there was a lot more to be cheerful about in today's defeat, with both the pitching and hitting performing a good deal better. To start with the former, Travis Blackley took the mound first, and allowed one run over two innings of work, on three hits and a walk - he helped his own cause with a nice pickoff of a man from first. Our anointed closer, Chad Qualls, followed with a 1-2-3 third, in his first appearance of spring,
However, it then seemed as if Scott Schoeneweis felt sorry for fellow LOOGY Doug Slaten. For he exactly matched Slaten's line yesterday, with three hits, a walk, a strikeout and two earned runs in his inning of work. When I said we need a more consistent bullpen, this is not what I meant... However, It isn't possible to tell from the box-score, how many of the seven hitters Schoeneweis faced were left-handed. As noted previously, his splits while in New York were much, much better against LHB, and I hope that's how he'll be used by Arizona. At this point in spring, it's probably more a case of whatever comes out in the line-up when it's your inning, and that may help explain his struggle.
Tony Peña pitched a scoreless fifth, though not without its drama. The MLB box-score says two hits, but the AP report says Peña allowed three hits and a walk - without allowing a run. He managed this by loading the bases, then getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to line a ball off one of the baserunners, who was called out. The hitter was awarded a single to re-load the bases again, but Tony struck out the next batter to leave them there. Looks from the boxscore like an excellent outing for non-roster invitee Seth Etherton, striking out four of the six batters he faced over two perfect innings of work. At this point, the Diamondbacks were very much still in the game, it being tied at three after seven innings, but two runs off Esmerling Vasquez in the eighth, on three hits and a walk proved crucial, and tagged our prospect with the eventual L. Bobby Korecky allowed another, on two more hits and a walk.
Arizona scored twice in the bottom of the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. The first came courtesy of a Mark Reynolds double, and Special K then immediately came home to score on a Josh Whitesell single. A Justin Upton double in the next frame scored Chris Young, and in the eighth, Chris Roberson homered to right. Young had two hits, a single and a double, while Upton, Reynolds, Trent Oeltjen and Gerardo Parra all had a hit and a walk. The last-named also stole a base. Defensively, looked like a clean game, with no errors by either side. I notice James Skelton coming in and replacing Felipe Lopez at second-base, lending strength to the thought he may be used
Elsewhere, i note that Andruw Jones is clearly taking up where he left off last season, going 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts. Thus far, he is 1-for-9 with eight K's. I hope he continues to crash and burn: every penny in incentives he makes from the Rangers, is a penny less the Dodgers have to pay him. Admittedly, they've deferred most of the $22m they owe him, but I'd still rather they have to find the cash than Texas. Between that and their version of the Manny deal [$25m of the $45m being paid out after the contract's end in 2010], it seems Los Angeles have been looking to defer payments at a volume not seen since Jerry Colangelo was in full flow here. Works for me: it'll be nice when they can't extend Russell Martin at the end of 2011, because they're paying $15m to Manny and Andruw.
Remember when Eric Byrnes said, "I feel great. I feel real good. Going full speed right now"? Well, maybe not so much, or at least, "going full speed" only in the same sense as a fully-laden oil-tanker. He's been notable by his absence from the field so far this spring, and it turns out...well, he can't turn out. Or in. While it appears he has no problem going in a straight line, he is still having problems taking the corners on the base-paths. I am beginning to wonder if the outfield issue is going to solve itself, at least temporarily, by Byrnes not being ready by Opening Day. He says, “Everyone I’ve talked to said it’s a year injury and we’re at, what, eight months. Most people start running at about six and usually it takes a year to get just about all the pain out of there.” At least it seems EB learned from last time, and will not rush back before he's healthy.
And that's that. Off to comedy we go. Next thing from here will be a multi-media [if we remember to charge the camera!] presentation on tomorrow's game from Tucson...