12,809 crammed into Salt River Fields this afternoon, for a glorious St. Patrick's Day afternoon, which was the seventh sellout this season. There's another two games upcoming which have sold out - including SnakePitSpringTrainingFest next Sunday, so if you didn't get your tickets for that, you might be out of luck - and there is what is described as "limited seating" for the three other games. With almost two weeks left, the combined attendance at SRF is already over 316,000 the third-highest for a two-team facility in Cactus League history, trailing the marks set by the park on 2011 and 2012. Could be some more records to fall yet.
Trevor Cahill started this game, against a Dodgers' split-squad, and had an excellent outing, with his sinker showing a lot of tilt, and provoking a good number of swings over the top from the LA hitters. Even though it was a little light on regulars, he still held them to one hit in five innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. Perhaps most impressively, not a single batter was retired by our outfielders this afternoon, which shows you how well Cahill's sinker was working this afternoon. Instead, he got nine outs on the ground, there were the five K's, and the remaining batter popped out in foul territory to the catcher.
Brad Ziegler worked the sixth, and allowed a lead-off hit, which was then wiped out with the inevitable double-play ball. However, there was no wiping out the second hit of the inning, a massive Matt Kemp shot that almost cleared the berm in left-field. However, that was it for the Dodgers, because Josh Collmenter came in and closed them down for the remaining three innings, allowing two hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. All told, Arizona pitchers held Los Angeles to one run on five hits, with three walks and an impressive ten K's in total.
We scored one in the first, as an Aaron Hill smash down the line bounced off the glove of the third baseman, and brought Adam Eaton home. Both men enjoyed excellent afternoons at the plate, neither retired in six trips to the dish. Eaton had two hits, his first walk of spring and stole a base, though was also caught stealing - his fourth in six attempts, something he does need to improve on. Meanwhile, Hill drove in four runs with his three hits and was already a triple short of the cycle by the top of the sixth, when he was replaced by Cliff Pennington. Would have been cool to cycle in spring training, but that's gotta be rare, given the substitutions.
The third inning was the big one, as five consecutive batters reached off Ted Lilly to start the inning, and Arizona scored four times. Wille Bloomquist walked - also his first of spring - got a hit, and even stole a base, while Rod Barajas added a two-run homer as part of a three-run seventh. Paul Goldschmidt came off the bench to get a single, and the final tally for the Diamondbacks was 14 hits and three walks with nine strikeouts. All told, a very satisfactory victory.
Down in Tucson, it was even more of a slug-fest, as the Diamondbacks got 15 hits and the Padres 17. However, the "visiting" team [us, technically!] prevailed, coming out on top 8-6, despite blowing a five-run lead. Patrick Corbin was the starter, and spent most of the afternoon pitching out of the stretch, allowing one run on nine hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. The most spectacular Houdini act came in the first, where he loaded the bases without retiring a batter, on two singles and a walk. However, an infield pop-out and pair of strikeouts - the first being of a name we might recognize, Cody Ransom! - led to a zero. Corbin struck out four.
Rommie Lewis got the final out of the fifth successfully, but was a lot less effective in the sixth inning. What had been a five-run lead for us evaporated entirely, as Lewis gave up hits to five of the first six San Diego hitters faced, resulting in three runs. He was relieved by Eddie Bonine, who let both inherited runners score before getting the out, but followed that up with three additional scoreless innings, to pick up the victory. His final line was three hits in 3.1 innings, with no walks and three strikeouts.
The big story offensively was, again, Didi Gregorius, who seems to have taken to the DH role in which he has been used this spring so far. He went 3-for-5, increasing his spring average to .471, and driving in two runs, though he was picked off base for our daily TOOTLBAN. Kila Ka1aihue drove in four with a pair of hits, including his first Cactus League homer, a two-run shot in the fifth. Mark Teahen had two hits and a walk; Wil Nieves picked up a couple of hits to improve his spring numbers, and Chris Owings reached safely twice on a walk and a hit. There were three walks to six strikeouts, and Corbin made an error on a pickoff.
It was our first split-squad sweep against Cactus League opponents since April 1, 2010, when we beat Kansas City and Milwaukee. We did win two games the same day at the end of the 2011 campaign, but one of those came against Monterey. The twin victories improved our record to 10-11 with two games tied. Tomorrow, the team will re-unite and face the Dodgers again, this time at Camelback Ranch. Randall Delgado and Wade Miley are scheduled to take the mound.
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