The Cliff Notes version of the frame: six runs, all earned (four by J.J. Putz, two by Kam Mickolio), on four hits, four walks, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a three-base fielding error. Any frail hopes that the team might have turned over a new leaf after the off-day on Monday evaporated in the brutal tsunami of incompetence which engulfed the team during this afternoon's sixth inning. It washed away a four-run lead faster than a Gilbert Gottfried endorsement, and condemned the team to their eighth consecutive Cactus League defeat.
Arizona's Cactus League record is now 5-17.
Pitching change. J.J.Putz replaces Mike Hampton, batting ninth
* Jeff Mathis walks
* Peter Bourjos singles on a line-drive to CF Chris Young.
Fielding error by Young, Mathis scores, Bourjos scores
* Maicer Izturis walks. Pinch-runner Tyson Auer replaces Izturis
Passed ball by Henry Blanco. Auer to 2nd.
* Eric Aybar walks. Wild pitch by Putz. Auer to 3rd.
Eric Aybar caught stealing 2nd base.
* Bobby Abreu doubles to right field. Auer scores. Pinch-runner Gil Velasquez replaces Abreu
Pitching change. Kam Mickolio replaces J.J. Putz.
* Angel Castillo singles to left field. Velasquez to 3rd.
Wild pitch by Kam Mickolio. Castillo to 2nd.
* Vernon Wells walks. Pinch-runner Kevin Melillo replaces Wells.
* Howard Kendrick strikes out swinging.
* Bobby Wilson doubles to right-field. Velasquez, Castillo, Melillo score.
* Jeff Mathis strikes out swinging.
I hope you were playing along at home. That's five batters faced by Putz, none retired, on two hits and three walks - he has Henry Blanco to thank for the out recorded. Still, it's good to hear that, "He knows what he has to do, he's throwing the ball great, he's lights-out," as Kirk Gibson said at the end of last month </unfairambush>. Putz threw 29 pitches, only 12 for strikes, though Nick Piecoro tweets that he heard from a scout the pitcher was at 92-94 mph, so it wasn't a lack of velocity. which killed him today. Kishi was at the game today, so I'll be interested to hear his take on the disaster which apparently unfolded in the box-score - was it as bad as it seemed?
Crossing the sixth off the box-score, we outscored Anaheim, 7-4. The offense had a good day with the bat, notching more than a dozen hits, though no walks, and we nailed two of three attempted base-thieves. Juan Miranda led the offense, with three hits and two runs driven in. Tony Abreu [who has really picked it up the past ten days or so] and Justin Upton both had two hits and two RBI - Upton and Miranda each delivered their third home-runs of the pre-season. I note that Parra started in left-field today, with Xavier Nady the late-inning replacement. Nady went 0-for-2, so is now hitting .194, with no walks.
After a perfect first frame, Ian Kennedy had a mediocre start, allowing eight hits and a walk in 3.2 innings, which resulted in three runs (with one unearned). Things could have been worse, but for Kennedy picking a runner off second, but he was finally removed with two outs in the fourth, after walking the opposing pitcher to load up the bases. Mike Hampton escaped the jam, and them did an even more impressive job escaping one of his own making in the fifth. He loaded the bases with nobody out, but then got three consecutive ground-balls to the infield, resulting in a pair of forceouts at home and one at second.
Following the disastrous sixth, things started off badly in the seventh, with Brian Sweeney walking the first two Angels he faced. However, a double-play calmed things down, and he ended up going two shutout frames, even though every out he recorded was with a runner in scoring position [as an aside, the Angels were 3-for-16 there; not often a team scores ten runs with so few clutch hits]. Joe Paterson pitched the ninth, allowing an RBI triple with two outs, but did strike out a pair of batters. And it was another sell-out at Salt River Fields, and impressive feat for a Wednesday afternoon, though this was one of only two games taking place prior to the evening.
Stephen Drew did leave the game with what was described as "midsection tightness," but it doesn't seem to be serious - he believes he tweaked it on Tuesday night. Geoff Blum was also out of action today, with some swelling in his right knee.
“No, I’m not at all, “You are. I’m not. So leave that (inappropriate term) out of my vocabulary, OK? We played a good game.”
-- Kirk Gibson, asked after yesterday's loss if he was getting frustrated with all the defeats
As Nick Piecoro - who didn't ask the question - put it, "Him reacting like that sure makes you think that he actually is frustrated." It seems the relationship between Gibson and the media might be strained. The same piece also notes Gibson snapping at Piecoro for what sounds an innocent query as to whether Saunders' illness played into the decision to give Kennedy the Opening Day start. It might be the stress, or it might go back to Gibson's banning of the media's use of cellphones. They responded: "a couple of the beat guys collected everyone’s cell phone and put them up on the podium where Gibson was going to speak so they were all right up in his face."
Could be an interesting season, folks.