Well, I had a scathing piece almost all written up for this recap, after Jordan Norberto and Esmerling Vasquez combined to allow six walks in two innings of work, while the offense somehow managed to hit into five double-plays. With one out in the ninth, and Arizona down 4-0 to San Diego, things looked pretty bleak, but a pair of two-run homers, by John Hester and Drew Macias, allowed the Diamondbacks to tie the game up. Jake Wald then singled across the winning run with one out in the tenth, to snatch victory, not so much from the jaws of defeat, as somewhere around its lower intestine.
Details after the jump. And if you're wondering where the projections for the bullpen are [this being Monday], I decided to hold off on those until tomorrow, since that's an off-day.
Really, this was not a game either team deserved to win. Arizona outhit San Diego comprehensively, by a margin of 14-6, but proved equally as adept at erasing their own runners, with five separate batters hitting into double-plays: Tony Abreu, Cole Gillespie, Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra + Ryan Roberts. Seems to have been a season for setting marks in spring training: the Diamondbacks have only twice hit into five double-plays in a regular-season game, curiously, both times against St. Louis [August 2005 and July 2007] Only one National League team has done it since then: you might remember it from last year, though probably for the wrong reasons - a clue, it involved us losing a 95.3% Win Expectancy.
Conor Jackson was once again in the lead-off spot, and went 1-for-2 with a walk. I think it's something we are probably going to see more of in the games ahead. I'm just a little surprised it has taken AJ Hinch so long to try it out, since it's a possibility we have been discussing here on the Pit for quite some time. Maybe it's Stephen Drew who is going to be traded to the Rangers, not Augie Ojeda? There, that's a completely groundless rumor started: we'll see if it flies as far as the Pujols-for-Howard one did. Chris Snyder, however, was the offensive star, going 3-for-3 as the starting catcher. Mark Reynolds and Macias each got a hit and a walk.
It was a particularly good-day for our pinch-hitters overall, who were 3-for-3 with a walk. That included Hester's shot with one on and one out in the ninth, batting in place of Gillespie, which made the score 4-2 to the Padres. Doug Deeds then singled for Gerardo Parra, and Macias - who'd come in to run for Jeff Bailey in the sixth - tied the game up. Singles in the tenth by Brandon Allen, Sean Coughlin and Wald then sealed the victory, evening the Diamondbacks' record in the Cactus League at 10-10.
The game featured an excellent outing from Ian Kennedy, who threw five shutout innings, giving up only two hits - one of them an infield hit, which Kennedy immediately took care of, by picking the runner off first. Kennedy said afterward, "I threw pretty much everything for strikes," and praised Snyder's pitch-calling: "He called a great game. We just wanted to pound the zone early. For me, I really don't go out for strikeouts from the get-go. If they come, that's awesome." And come they did, eight Padres taking their bats back to the dugout with them. AJ Hinch was impressed: "That was probably the best outing any of our starters have had this spring."
After him, Juan Gutierrez continued to do what he has been doing i.e. retiring the opposition 1-2-3, but fellow member of the zero ERA club, Jordan Norberto did not fare so well, walking three of the six batters he faced, including one with the bases loaded to break the scoreless tie. Esmerling Vasquez was called upon to get that difficult third out, and did so, but experienced control problems of his own in the eighth, with three more walks and a two-run single to dig what looked like an impossible hole for Arizona. The run TJ Beam allowed in the ninth just seemed to be icing, until Hester and Macias refused to lie down and go quietly.
AJ Hinch discusses the lead-off situation, and Conor Jackson's role in it, here. "It makes our lineup pretty interesting. As much as (Jackson) gets on base, if I have a left-hander hitting behind him, he's got the hole open. Conor will run. Even though he doesn't have blazing speed he's a very good baserunner. It's possible." Conor is down with it, saying "I think for this team, it kind of makes sense. It's not a bad fit. But I'll hit wherever he puts me." Jackson thinks it might actually help him, by ensuring he concentrates on reaching base, and seems happy to know he won't be hitting clean-up any longer: "The pressure of the four-hole is kind of off me."
6pm tonight - in other words, in about ten minutes - is the season premiere of The 10th Inning on Fox Sports AZ, so I'll probably be tuning in for that. Might stick around for the D-backs Classics game they're screening thereafter; the game against the Rockies where we clinched the 2007 NL West title. Here's to more of that in October.