Man, the Cubs can't even sell out Hohokam Stadium, for a game against the reigning NL West champion Diamondbacks? Sheesh. There were less than 10,000 there for today's contest. Looks like the old Cactus League engine is up on blocks at the lights, while the home-town franchise zooms away in a Ferrari (not paid for with public money...). More on that later, but that description is largely an accurate metaphor for this contest as well. Arizona scored in each inning from the second through the fifth, then pounded out a seven-run seventh, anchored by a Paul Goldschmidt grand-slam.
It's nice to score runs. It's nice to win. I'd almost forgotten.
Let's start with the pitching though, where Ian Kennedy got back on track with a nice outing, working four scoreless innings. scattering five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He did load the bases with two outs in the first, but got Geovany Soto to fly out to left field, to end the biggest threat he faced this afternoon. He was followed by our favorite ginger, Barry Enright, who had his best outing of the season too. He also allowed five hits and struck out three, in an inning less, and without the walk, but did allow a run in the seventh. However, as Arizona were 11-0 up at that point, I think we'll let him off...
Joe Paterson's perfect start to the season came to an abrupt halt with the first batter of the eighth inning, as Michael Brenly knocked one out of the park to left-field. And yes, if you were wondering, he is indeed the son of Bob Brenly, who managed Arizona to the 2001 World Series title. So I guess we can let him off, as long as he doesn't make a habit of it... Bryan Shaw finished off the afternoon's entertainment, working a perfect ninth inning for the Diamondbacks, with one strikeout.
But, as you can imagine, it was a day for the offense, who piled up 15 hits as well as five walks. Two of those came with the bases-loaded in that huge seventh inning, during which Arizona sent eleven men to the plate. They torched former ace Kerry Wood mercilessly. Remember when he struck out 20 batters in a game? The D-backs hitters didn't appear to, getting four straight hits off Wood to welcome him into the game - even Enright got in on the fun with a knock, Dave Winfree did strike out, but after Wood was burned, Adam Eaton and Cody Ransom kept the line going with RBI walks, before Matt Davidson was fanned for the second out.
Then it was Goldschmidt time.
For any of you that missed it today Paul Goldschmidt 's first HR of the spring is yet to land. Head out to East Mesa to wait for it @Dbacks— Barry Enright (@BarryEnright54) March 16, 2012
By all accounts, he's not kidding. It's almost as if Goldschmidt took deep, personal offense to the chatter following Jonathan Griffin's bomb at Salt River Fields last night, and decided to show the young whippersnapper what real power is like. The best description of it comes from Al of Bleed Cubbie Blue, who said of it that it was "a monster grand slam... the ball cleared the back fence behind the left field berm and hit a little brown car in the parking lot." So, Goldzilla literally hit it out of the park. I hope the car owner had insurance against acts of Gold....
That was just one of three home-runs for Arizona batters, as Alfredo Marte got one and Henry Blanco added his second of spring - in line with standard Blanco policy, half of his four hits have now left the park. He, Aaron Hill and Justin Upton each had two-hit games, while A.J. Pollock and Davidson reached base twice apiece, on a hit and a walk. All told, it's hard to argue that this was the best Diamondbacks performance of the Cactus League to date, and one hopes it's an augury of good things to come, even if it was against the Cubs, and a split-squad version of them at that.
A lightly-trafficked thread this afternoon, with the game not apparently broadcast. Bcawz led all posters, with snakecharmer and Clefo only separated by a single post for second and third. Also present: Jim McLennan, asteroid, GuruB, PR151, blue bulldog, SenSurround, NASCARbernet, G.O.B., Dbacksrock8, txzona, Gildo and dbacksfann.
Tomorrow, we face the White Sox at Salt River Fields, and the game is already an official sell-out. For the benefit of any Cubs fans reading this, who might be unfamiliar with the concept of late, that's when there's no more tickets available to a spring training game. I think it will be the Diamondbacks' fourth such game. Let's see...
- March 4 vs. Giants: 12,546
- March 6 vs. Rangers: 9,087
- March 7 vs. Indians: 7,534
- March 10 vs. Mariners: 12,510
- March 13 vs. Angels: 12,552
- March 14 vs. Padres: 11,032
That's an average gate of 10,877 - for comparison, it's more than 2,000 per game higher than the Cubs have drawn to date, in their seven games at Hohokam.