This is not the Cactus League I signed up for. I signed up for the careless joy of warm spring afternoons, with a cold beer and a hot-dog, as players you've never heard of battle it out in meaningless splendor in front of a largely disinterested crowd. Not the one where we get subjected to a complete drubbing by our divisional rivals, with our pitchers throwing batting practice and our offense being held to a grand total of one run.
Really: we waited five months for this? After the jump, we'll pick over the corpse of this one, and see if we can find any crumbs of comfort.
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Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let me (p)resent to you Exhibit A in the Black Museum which was this afternoon's Cactus League "contest" - and I use the quotes advisedly - between the Diamondbacks of Arizona and the ir neigbors, the Rockies of Colorado. Not pretty, is it? I haven't looked at any of the post-game quotes yet, but I fully expect to see the usual responses, about it only being spring training, it's just a question of getting the work in at this point, etc. But, still: seventeen hits. Yuck. It isn't quite how anyone wanted to start.
Billy Buckner seemed to still be in off-season mode, as five of the first six Rockies' batters reached base against him, on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. However, he did recover thereafter, retiring the next five batters faced, to end the day with four strikeouts in a his two innings of work. The Diamondbacks' pitching was like the Star Trek movies today, in that the odd-numbered ones were awful. Bob Howry, in his debut for us, allowed four hits in the third, and Rodrigo Lopez, another of the contenders for #5 in the rotation, picked a scoreless fourth, only to allow a three-run homer in the fifth.
Rule 5 draft pick Zach Kroenke worked a scoreless sixth, but left-hander Tom Layne belied all the kind things written about him just this morning by Nick Piecoro, delivering the worst frame of the day. His seventh inning resulted in five hits for the Rockies, a wild pitch and four earned runs. TJ Beam and Leo Rosales tidied up thereafter, each facing the minimum three batters, though by this point, the player numbers to be found on the field were not ones you would be able to use to play the Powerball, shall we say.
On offense, almost as little reason for cheer Conor Jackson singled nicely in his first valley fever-free at-bat for the Diamondbacks in a year or so, and was then driven in by Kelly Johnson, who got a knock in his debut with the team, pushing across the team's only run for the day. Brandon Allen reached base safely both times, with a walk and our only extra-base hit of the day, a triple to center. Perhaps our best chance to score was after loading the bases in the fifth, but Justin Upton promptly hit into a double-play. Get them all out of your system now, please. Oh, and Stephen Drew made the first error of the season for the D-backs, but Miguel Montero nicely picked a runner off second.
It's probably best for all concerned if we simply write off this afternoon as a bad dream and "reload", to borrow a phrase that AJ Hinch has been using this spring, whenever the execution has not been up to the required standard. And things certainly could have been worse: witness the Cardinals, who allowed seventeen runs against the Mets, thanks in part to ten walks - at least Arizona did make the opposition earn their way on-base, with only two free passes. Yep: that's the level we have reached at this point. We didn't walk that many people. Tomorrow is, fortunately, another day.
Finally, some worrying comments from Webb after yesterday's bullpen session. "I feel like I’m kind of stagnant right now. I want to feel some progression every time and I feel like the last couple of times I’ve been out, it’s been about the same... I don’t want to overdo it, either. I don’t want to set myself back. That’s the thing that’s in the back of my mind always. I’m set up right now to be where I need to be. With one little setback it’ll probably push me back to where I don’t want to be." I think I speak for all of us, when I say, "UIp." We have so much invested in a healthy Webb as the corner of our rotation this year, reading the above makes we want to give up reading.