Is it just me, or do there seem to have been more split-squad games this year? I know that with there being an odd number of team in the Cactus League, there generally needs to be at least one, to ensure games for everyone. But this is the Diamondbacks' fourth since the start of March, with another one due on Friday. It's certainly the case that we'll be playing more games. That's 27 to date, with ten to go, excluding the games against the Mexican teams - 15% more than the 32 we played in 2010. Putting my tin-foil hat on, I will claim, with absolutely no evidence, this was done to ensure attendance records were set at Salt River Fields in its opening year.
Games? Oh, yeah. A ninth-inning comeback averted the double-header sweep, as we beat the A's 4-2, but lost to the Indians 5-3, behind another "meh" effort from Armando Galarraga.
Let's start with the good news, at Phoenix Muni where the Diamondbacks scored three in the top of the ninth off Brian Fuentes, to complete a comeback that saw us trail 2-0 after five. David Winfree had the key hit there, doubling home both the tying and go-ahead runs, then completing the scoring on an RBI triple off David Nick. Nick had opened Arizona's scoring in the sixth, coming home from second on a Wily Mo Mena hit. We totaled 14 hits this afternoon, twice as many as Oakland, so we probably deserve the victory. Justin Upton, Nick and Melvin Mora each snagged a couple, while Wily Mo Pena led the offense with three.
A familiar name started at first for the A's: Conor Jackson. Good to see him playing, after the health issues of the past couple of years, but he has been struggling this spring, and even after getting a hit today, is batting only .156. Was just reading a story about Conor: he's fighting for a role on the Oakland bench with another former D-back, Chris Carter [the one we got from the White Sox for Carlos Quentin]. He's trying to break the bad mojo which has dogged him of late. "There are lots of cyclists in Hermosa Beach, so I'd help them up when they crashed. Anything I could do to get my karma back, end this vicious cycle. This game puts you in your place real quick." Good luck. CJ.
Barry Enright was our starting pitcher, and had a solid outing, throwing five innings and allowing two runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out four. Another very decent outing, in an ongoing series of decent outings, which have done Enright's chances of making the rotation absolutely no harm - his spring ERA is 2.65. After a scoreless sixth from Micah Owings, we got three innings from prospect Tyler Skaggs, who came from Anaheim in the Dan Haren trade. He threw shutout ball, with two hits and no walks, K'ing four - and in his first two frames, faced the likes of Kurt Suzuki (K), Josh Willingham (called K) and Hideki Matsui (fly-out). Not bad for a guy yet to play above A-ball.
Upton left the game in the fifth, having fallen awkwardly, while running after a ball in the right-field corner. Nick Piecoro tweeted J-Up might have stood on a ball that strayed out of the A's pen - where's my tinfoil hat? Justin told Steve Gilbert afterward that he jammed his right knee, but doesn't believe the injury is serious; my first thought was "Didn't J.J. Putz say that?" I'll be happier if I see Upton running around below us next Saturday at SnakePicnicFest, shall we say.
In the other game, the Indians scalped Galarraga early, scoring three runs in the first inning, on three hits, two walks and a wild pitch. He did end up getting through five innings as well, but allowed five runs, all earned, on a total of six hits and the two walks, with one strikeout. It's just another in an ongoing series of mediocre outings for him: he threw three shutout against Texas on the 5th, but in every other appearance, he's allowed as many or more runs than innings pitched. In 16 frames, he has 19 hits against, with five walks and 15 earned runs. However, he had a poor spring last year too, with an 11.57 ERA, albeit in only four games.
Rafael Rodriguez allowed two hits and a walk in the sixth, but David Hernandez delivered another good frame, striking out two of the three batters faced. In eight innings, he has allowed two hits and struck out seven. This was his third outing without a walk, something which troubled him early on - so if Putz does prove unavailable for Opening Day, I'd not be surprised if Hernandez takes over. Carlos Rosa also struck out two in his inning of work, but did permit Cleveland a hit.
Not much to speak about offensively, as Arizona was held to only five hits. Ryan Roberts had a hit and a walk, while Russell Branyan drew a couple of walks. Curiously, every one of those five hits was a double - only half a dozen times in recorded baseball history has a team had all their hits be doubles, with five or more hits involved. Somehow, the Braves managed nine hits, all doubles, against the Giants in 1998. Willie Bloomquist stole a base for us in this game, while Kelly Johnson had an error in the other contest.
And with that, off to curry - be back before 8pm, in time for our fantasy draft. Tomorrow's game is televised, so there will be a Gameday Thread for that, as we face the Dodgers. Scheduled pitchers are Ian Kennedy, Esmerling Vasquez, Kam Mickolio and Juan Gutierrez, so see you for that.