In what was, by some way, the best collective performance since the start of spring training, the Arizona Diamondbacks blew away the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear this afternoon. Arizona pounded out 22 hits, and didn't even need the assistance of the wind, the box-score reporting it more as a gentle zephyr of 5 mph. The pitching was almost as good: though we gave up a total of 14 hits to Cleveland, only five runs resulted, and we struck out a dozen Indians, without issuing a single base on balls. Even by the five-inning measure, this was an easy win, Arizona leading 13-2 at the end of the fifth.
Here's to more of the same going forward. Details of the win, which improved our Cactus League record to 5-9, after the jump.
I completely forgot that this one was on the MLB Network, or I might have put up a GDT. Mind you, no-one else bothered, so it doesn't appear to have been missed. For once, let's start this recap off with the offense, since they were truly the stars today. Except for Xavier Nady - whom I note was playing first-base today - every starter for the Diamondbacks had a multi-hit game. Kelly Johnson and Henry Blanco led the way with three apiece. Steve Gilbert Tweeted that Johnson forgot to pack his jersey, and ended up wearing Brian Sweeney's #37: based upon the results, it seems he might want to keep "forgetting" in future.
Elsewhere on offense, Stephen Drew and Russell Branyan produced two hits and a walk. Drew and Chris Young each had a double and a home-run - the latter hit back-to-back in the second, and were joined later in the HR parage by Wily Mo Pena. Young had his first four RBI of the year, and the Indians allowed 16 runs in back to back games. [That's only happened during the regular season three times since 1977, most recently by Tampa Bay in July 2007] All told, we pounded out nine extra-base hits, and were 9-for-17 with runners in scoring position, and Gerardo Parra stole two bases.
Nick Piecoro noted on Monday that Young has yet to bat lead-off in a game: he was in the #2-hole this afternoon. Kirk Gibson "acknowledged he's leaning toward putting Young's power/speed combination in the middle of the lineup." It seems that, in an ideal world, Gibson would put Upton third, but given the construction of the team's roster this year, he's more likely to hit in the clean-up spot, with Young either hitting in front of or behind our right-fielder. There was no Upton today: Johnson hit lead-off this afternoon, with Young, Drew and Nady filling out the top half of our order.
There were errors by Pena and Brandon Allen: we had 18 coming in to today's game, and our defense (or lack thereof) displeases Kirk Gibson, with him describing it as "unacceptable" - such as on Monday, when the split-squad games resulted in five Arizona errors. I did enjoy his description of the effort involved: "You've got to work at it. You don't just go out there and stand in a hula hoop and say, 'OK hit it to me.'" That's a shame, as the sight of Ryan Roberts, say, in a hula-hoop, is one which would seem well worth the price of admission, personally. But it doesn't sound like Gibson is going to be going easy on the team, if I read this statement right:
"We will pick the ball up better, trust me. We'll try everything in our power between now and Opening Day to make everybody play up to their abilities. There's various reasons [for the struggles], let's just leave it at that. We'll address it, we'll clean it up. They're better than that. I know it and they know it too."
Daniel Hudson started for the Diamondbacks, and had a solid performance. He scattered five hits over his three innings, but only allowed one run, and struck out four Indians. He did commit a balk, and also got some help in his final frame of work. An ill-advised attempt by a Cleveland batter to score from second on an infield hit to Johnson, ended in a run-down between Blanco and third baseman Ryan Roberts [whose batting average dropped today, because he "only" got two hits in four at-bats, collapsing all the way to... er, .650]. Hudson's ERA is a very respectable 2.57, which will do nicely.
With a 10-3 lead by the middle of the fourth, the game was largely in the bag, though it was still good to see Juan Gutierrez pitch a scoreless inning, and Micah Owings allowed only an unearned run in his frame. Sam Demel gave up his first run of spring in the sixth, on three hits, though also notched three strikeouts. Rafael Rodriguez and Kam Mickolio pitched scoreless frames, each man recording a strikeout and allowing a hit. Not sure whose jersey he was wearing, but Brian Sweeney worked the ninth, and Cleveland made the score a bit more respectable, scoring twice, though the Pena error meant only one was earned by Sweeney.
All told: heck, yeah. Good to see all aspects of the offense clicking, and our pitchers making the opposition earn their way on [even if they did that a little too often for my liking]. Hopefully, it's something on which the team can build, going forward. Tomorrow, it's back home to SRF@TS, to face the Brewers, with the scheduled pitchers including Ian Kennedy, Joe Paterson and David Hernandez.