It was a perfect afternoon for baseball at Salt River Fields, as a crowd of 11,469 saw the Diamondbacks take on the Padres, and hold them scoreless for eight of this afternoon's nine innings. Unfortunately, Juan Gutierrez's spring struggles continued, as he allowed three runs while retiring two batters, and that was enough for San Diego to take the victory. Arizona got the tying run into scoring position in the ninth, but no closer, and saw their Cactus League record drop to 2-7.
Quick details after the jump, but I've been suffering technical issues all day, so this will be short.
Nick Piecoro actually wrote about Gutierrez's struggles yesterday, quoting manager Kirk Gibson as saying, "The key to him is to get his breaking ball over. He hasn’t done that. He gets pretty predictable. That will come. He’ll get it. It’ll be no problem with that. His arm is healthy and he’s throwing the ball with good velocity. He just hasn’t been able to get those pitches over yet." The concern might be ramped up a notch after another ineffective outing today, in which he retired just two of the seven batters faced, allowing four hits and plunking another Padre. Three runs scored, and he was unceremoniously yanked for Charles Brewer, one of our A-ball guys.
The outing raised Gutierrez's spring ERA to a troubling 23.62, having allowed seven hits, two walks and an HBP in 2.2 very ugly innings of work. In Nick's piece, he reported that "One scout who saw him throw in his first appearance had him at 92-93 mph. That’s a couple ticks down from where he normally resides, but certainly nothing alarming." Unlike Peoria, no pitch-f/X information available at SRF, so no details on his velocity, but Gutierrez seemed to think that wasn't the issue. He said, "My velocity is there. All my pitches are there, but I need to locate a little better. When I hit my spots, everything's good, but when I leave the ball up, you saw what happened today."
On the other hand, Ian Kennedy looked much better in his second start: first time out, he allowed four hits and a walk, giving up two runs in two innings. Today, he went three shutout, facing one batter over the minimum. He allowed two singles, and threw a wild-pitch, but also picked a runner off first (as did Joe Paterson), didn't walk anyone and struck out four hitters. Kennedy credited pitching coach Charles Nagy for the improvement: ''I slowed down after I got some advice from him. 'My fastball and my command were good... 'I was happy with my rhythm and my tempo today. I wasn't happy with that last time."
Not much to report from the offense, which was held to six hits and three walks, spread over nine different players. Xavier Nady and Collin Cowgill had the only extra-base hits for the Diamondbacks today, with the latter's knock responsible for driving in both Arizona runs in the eighth. That scored A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings, and put the tying run in scoring position. However, Cowgill was subsequently out at home, ending the inning, on an apparently ill-advised attempt to score on a throwing error by the San Diego third-baseman. Paul 'Solid' Goldschmidt walked with one out in the ninth, and advanced on a ground-out, but Brandon Allen fanned to end the game.
So that's six of the last seven games ending in defeat for the D-backs. Tomorrow, they go for better against the Rangers at SRF.Scheduled to pitch for Arizona are Barry Enright, Armando Galarraga, Micah Owings, Rafael Rodriguez, Jordan Norberto, Sam Demel and Kevin Mulvey. That'll mean we've seen all the prospective candidates for the rotation twice, so seems an appropriate time to take a look at the Heroes and Villains over the first week of spring training.