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Diamondbacks 15, Cubs 8: Offense On Fire, Saunders Set On Fire

Got to love offensive production. In this afternoon's game at HohoKam Park, the Diamondbacks had accumulated 15 hits, four home-runs and scored twelve times - by the end of the fourth inning. Give your pitcher that kind of run support, and you'll probably end up winning, even when your starter has a less than stellar day. Which is exactly what Joe Saunders had, continuing the string of less than stellar performances which he has produced this spring. Well, I guess he's at least consistent, albeit in a...well, less than stellar way.

The Diamondbacks end Cactus League with a 12-25 record - the remaining two games don't count there.

Before we get to that, let's distract you with the shiny bauble of the offensive Armageddon we unleashed on the hapless Cubs. To start with,. it took its sweet time getting here, but looks like Xavier Nady might finally have found his swing. He may remain walkless, but he had four hits today, including a grand-slam as part of the eight-run fourth inning. His spring training line thus finishes at a less horrific .278/.288/.431, giving him a .719 OPS, which is about two hundred points higher than it was on March 20th. I'm pretty sure his roster spot is safe.

Dave Winfree - whom we were yelling on Saturday - had a pair of homers, driving in four runs, and Kelly Johnson also left the park in the same frame. Nady's four hits were matched by both A.J. Pollock and Johnson, while Winfree had a trio of hits, Miguel Montero got two hits and a walk, and Ryan Wheeler got a hit and a walk. Worth noting the offensive outburst was mostly off a (semi-)credible pitcher, in Matt Garza, who was touched for 11 hits and seven runs in three innings.

Then, there was Joe Saunders, whose line pretty much speaks for itself, and requires little or no further comment:
Saunders: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 K, 8 R, 5 ER, spring ERA: 12.46.

He wasn't helped by Joe Paterson coming in, hitting the first batter he faced, and then committing a run-scoring balk. With the bases loaded. No, really: I can't wait to see the details of this one; because you shouldn't exactly be working on your pick-off move when the ponds are full of ducks. I suspect he probably dropped the ball or something like that.

This truly was a game of two halves. After the teams combined for 22 runs through the middle of the fifth - taking about two and a half hours to get that far - there was only one further run the rest of the way. The best pitching for Arizona came from Kevin Munson, who threw two perfect innings, and Esmerling Vasquez, who closed things out with a zero in the ninth, fanning two. Nick Piecoro reckons Vasquez still might not make it over Kam Mickolio: "Vasquez was [a] disaster last September; bad 1st impression on new GM. And Mickolio came over in Reynolds deal. Give latter slight edge."

The victory means the Diamondbacks don't quite have the worst pre-season record in the majors. The 12-25 works out at .32432, which just edges out the Houston Astron - their 11-23 is a .32353 winning percentage, so we escape last place by .00079  Woo! Go, Arizona! There are still the two exhibition games at Chase, and we'll have a quick report on the night-cap later, but the next "prediction" thread will be up later.