Total bases by Jason Kubel. In first two weeks of spring training: 6. In last ninety minutes: 11— Jim McLennan (@AZSnakepit) March 17, 2012
Yeah. That didn't take long. This morning, I was all, "For a man who was brought in as a slugger, Kubel hasn't done very much slugging," and Jason was clearly all, "Screw you, SnakePit!" Two homers and a triple in his first three at-bats today, and Kubel has jacked up his OPS from .425 to .844 in an afternoon's work. Problem solved. You're welcome! After a wobbly start from Joe Saunders, Jason and the Diamondnauts on offense kicked in, with five-run fifth giving Arizona a led they'd not relinquish, on their way to a third consecutive win.
Didn't look like that in the early going, on either side of the D-backs dugout. We went down in order in the top of the first, and Saunders opted to mark the occasion by ordering a round of doubles. Specifically, Ian Kinsler doubled and scored off Joe in both the first and second inning, and Michael Young joined the party with an RBI double of his own. Texas didn't seem to have any problem handling Saunders: in his three innings of work, he was tagged for three runs on eight hits and a walk.
For Saunders, the results were perhaps less important than being out there, and he stated there were no ill-effects of the comebacker to his leg, which brought Monday's outing to an untimely end. He said after the outing, "The only thing today I was a little frustrated with was fastball command. I threw some good ones and then when I didn't locate it very well, they hit it where we weren't." It could have been worse, with the Rangers leaving an entire Alamo's worth of runners on base, stranding two in each frame.
The offense didn't get any better. Oh, sure: Kubel got his personal party started with a triple - though was nearly thrown out after failing to slide, judging by reports. However, the players after him were unable to bring him home, with Chrus Young popping up, Paul Goldschmidt lining out and Gerardo Parra going down swinging. But after a scoreless third, Kubel got us on the board with a long bomb with two outs, making the tally of bases at that point, Kubel 7, The Rest 0. Chris Young ended that with a single, and though no more runs scored, it did foreshadow the SnakeaPalooza which followed in the fifth.
Singles to Parra and Henry Blanco got things going, and both men then advanced when Parra stole third. The box-score I'm looking at does not actually credit Blanco with a stolen-base, just Parra, with Blanco recorded merely as "to second" on the play. Seems a bit unfair - I know a player doesn't get credit for being on the back-end of a double-steal, if the front man is caught, but that wasn't the case here. Blanco has had exactly one stolen-base since 2001 in the majors, though seems he did swipe a bag in spring training as recently (!) as March 27, 2006 against the White Sox.
Regardless, a wild pitch scored Parra, and one out later, an RBI double by leadoff man Ryan Roberts brought Blanco home, tying the game. A Justin Upton double gave the Diamondbacks the lead, and Kubel completed his resurrection with a two-run homer to the opposite field. Jason, who had come into the day tied for 12th in total bases among hitters on the Arizona offense, level with the likes of Marc Krauss, was now in possession of second spot alongside Rusty Ryal, trailing Young by one bag. Well played, Kubel - well played.
We scored two more in the sixth, on an RBI groundout by Blanco and and a single by John McDonald which drove in a run, and those turned out to be important insurance runs, as the bullpen did allow the Rangers back into the game. Chris Jakubauskas gave up a run in his two innings, though was still credited with the W and David Hernandez was tagged for two in the sixth, to bring Texas within a couple. However, neither side scored the rest of the way. We got a rare Sam Demel sighting - Steve Gilbert said he's had some arm issues - and Brett Lorin's pefect spring streak came to an end at 14 batters retired, with a two-out single in the eighth.
Jensen Lewis made things interesting, putting the tying run on base with one out in the ninth, but got the next two guys for the save, in front of another large crowd at Surprise. Just over 200 in the GDT, with NASCARbernet taking pole, and triggering a discussion of Arizona place names and Primus songs. Myself and Clefo round out the top three, with supporting appearances from kishi, hotclaws, azshadowwalker, CaptainCanuck, Bcawz, txzona, dbacks25, blue bulldog, Baseballdad and a very late-arriving Muu!
Double your pleasure tomorrow afternoon, as we play the third of four scheduled split-squad days. One half of the team will head West, taking on Cincinnati at Goodyear, behind Tyler Skaggs, while the rest will be staying at Salt River Fields for a contest against the A's,in which Trevor Cahill will faced his old team-mates. Hopefully he'll do as well as Dan Haren did in similar circumstances. We'll be running one thread for the games, so expect mass confusion there.