Mark Twain once supposedly described golf as, "A good walk, spoiled." This afternoon's Cactus League opener at Salt River Fields might, similarly, have been described as "A good sun-bathe, spoiled," at least for Diamondbacks fans. Though it was perhaps a little chilly - temperature at game time being only 55 degrees - that didn't dissuade a full house from showing up to see Arizona take on Colorado in their Cactus League opener. However, the end results were a good deal more satisfactory for our complex partners than the Diamondbacks, who seemed sluggish out of the gates in a number of aspects of their play.
This is, admittedly, largely going on second-hand reports and the always unreliable information provided by Gameday, which at one point told me the Rockies were only getting two outs, while the Diamondbacks got to start their half of the inning with a man on first. So, the accuracy of this is not guaranteed. But, really, it's difficult to think of any good way in which a play like the following could be interpreted:
Quite how your pitcher makes a throwing error and your CF then misses a catch, on the same play, makes me wish I'd been there to see it. But it's never a good sign in a game when errors outnumber outs recorded. This was part of a two-run first inning, and two more runs scored for the Rockies in the second, after starter Tyler Skaggs had left the game, to be replaced by Joe Paterson, who allowed both inherited runners to score - with a little help from Paul Goldschmidt, air-mailing a relay throw - before he could record the third out. Skaggs final line was 1.2 innings of work, four hits, no walks, two strikeouts and four runs, two earned. His velo was reported in the 88-92 mph range.
Heath Bell pitched the third inning, and after the first two batters faced reached base, the knives were being sharpened (in a plastic-y, Spring Training sort of way). However, a double-play helped him escape damage, and he became the first pitcher of 2013 to put up a zero for the Diamondbacks. David Hernandez, in the fourth, was not as lucky, allowing three hits and a walk, leading to three runs, all earned - at 92-94 mph, he was definitely not there yet, as you would expect in the first game of spring [his average fastball last season was 94.7 mph] That was it as far as pitchers you care about were concerned.
Felt great to get back on the mound and pitch again!!!! But I need to work on my PFPs more #dumberrors— Tyler Skaggs (@TylerSkaggs37) February 23, 2013
Okay, that's a little harsh: best of the rest appears to have been Euby de la Rosa, who fanned two of the three batters he faced - admittedly, that was in a scoreless ninth, by point the Rockies were on their third center-fielder of the afternoon. The worst was Evan Marshall, who joined Hernandez in allowing three runs in an inning of work, all of them scoring with two outs. The final tally was 11 runs on eighteen hits, though at least we made the Rockies earn their way aboard. with a K:BB ratio of 7:1. But it was the most runs allowed on an Opening Day since we moved to SRF: the D-backs lost 11-1 to the White Sox opening their final Tucson season, in 2010, allowing 17 hits there.
On offense, most of the starters only got a couple of at-bats. Willie Bloomquist got the first hit of spring for the Diamondbacks, doubling to lead off the first, and got Arizona on the board following a couple of ground-outs by Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado. Arizona's other run came in the second inning, Adam Eaton singling home Brad Snyder from second. However, that felt like a missed opportunity: the home team (okay, technically that could be either side, but I mean us!) put their first two men on, but Eric Hinske ran into our first out on the basepaths, and not by a narrow margin, making an ill-advised attempt to go from second to third on a shallow fly-ball to left.
That was it for productive offense, as the Diamondbacks failed to put up anything over the last seven innings. They had their chances, but went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, Eaton's hit being the only bit of clutch shown this afternoon. Rod Barajas and Alfredo Marte had our other extra-base hits beside Bloomquist, both men doubling, and shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed picked up Arizona's first stolen-base of spring, swiping second in the seventh inning. Our hitters did show some patience, drawing four bases on balls, striking out a total of eight times. Goldschmidt and Barajas each reached base safely twice, with a hit and a walk.
Present in the Gameday Thread were Bryan J. Boltik, Clefo, Dallas D'Back Fan, Jim McLennan, Muu, TolkienBard, dbacks79, grimmy01, imstillhungry95 and luckycc, with Clefo providing play-by-play, through an archaic device known as a "radio", and leading all commentors as a result. It's the same two teams at the same location, same time tomorrow. Let's hope the results are somewhat different, however.