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Diamondbacks 7, Athletics 15: Afternoon of the Left-Handed Dead

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If Joe Saunders was pitching for his spot in the Diamondbacks' rotation this afternoon, it didn't seem to show in the box-score. Admittedly, he did cut more than two runs off his spring ERA, but that says less about the quality of this afternoon's start than the wretchedness of his previous ones. Saunders got through five innings, which is a distinct improvement over the three he'd managed in his longest start previously, but allowed five runs on six hits and four walks. But it was those who followed that really blew the doors off this one...

So what of Saunders? Seth Pollack reported that, pre-game, "Gibson wants to see him do well. The good thing is he's not walking guys but it's time for him to "bear down" and show his stuff." While I can only comment on what I'm seeing on Gameday, it doesn't seem there was much down-bearing or stuff being shown, after he . And having walked only one batter previously, the four free passes handed out today kinda blew a hole in that aspect of his performance. Really, if he wasn't on a guaranteed contract, he'd be toast. I would not be surprised to see a DL stint, because with only one start remaining before Opening Day, he just doesn't seem ready.

On the other hand, he looked like the resurrected (if zombie-like) corpse of Cy Young compared to the two who followed him, who just looked zombie-like. The main contenders for the job of primary left-handed reliever, Jordan Norberto and Joe Paterson, combined to allow seven hits, three walks and eight runs in the sixth inning. While, I note wth some irony, also striking out the side - including the opposing pitcher, twice. As IHSB tweeted, "Somewhere on Mount Olympus, the gods of BABIP laugh uproariously," since our two LOOGYs saw seven balls put in play, and all seven drop for hits.

Not a good day for our left-handed pitchers at all - 13 runs, all earned, on 13 hits and seven walks, over a total of six innings. Even Mike Hampton, who didn't pitch, couldn't escape the curse, as he left camp for unspecified "personal reasons." Paterson still likely has the inside track on the spot, given the departure of Hampton, and that bad though he was, Norberto was hardly any more impressive. Kam Mickolio was positively Ryan-esque in comparison, allowing one run on three hits in two innings, before Sam Demel finished things, surrendering a solo shot in the ninth, to let the A's score their fifteenth run. Ouch.

Normally, I'd be happy with our hitters knocking in seven runs, but they could have doubled that output this afternoon, and we'd still have lost. It was a good day for our center-fielders, as A.J. Pollock and Chris Young each had two hits, combining to go 4-for-5. Ryan Roberts also got two, getting his spring average back above the Roberts line [.500, which I guess has to be the Roberts line, since no-one else is close to it]  Nick Piecoro tweets that, "With [Geoff] Blum's knee injury looking like he starts on DL, Roberts probably will make the team,"so much like Barry Enright, it'll then be up to RyRo to make himself undroppable.

Roberts' performance is notable, in that he was drilled by a pitch in the arm, but according to Seth, was "not going to risk his possible spot on the roster by taking any time off." He's one of a few walking wounded in various states: Seth also mentions that Stephen Drew is doing fine, and should be ready for the start of the season, while Tony Abreu tweaked his back and was given a rehab day. The same story also had audio of Kirk Gibson being "funny and charming." Sounds more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers to me...