These things are not mutually exclusive, y'see. If your team is going to play badly - and being blanked on four hits pretty much is that - then they might as well do it in a game that doesn't count, on a gloriously warm spring day, while you watch, sprawled over a blanket on the outfield berm. I sold Mrs. SnakePit's ticket to a conveniently-lurking Rockies fan on arrival, picked up the necessary water, slathered myself in complimentary sunblock (the 99 Cent Store inexplicably not carrying any) and assumed the position. Which, in this case, means horizontal, occupying what would end up being an extremely crowded lawn section.
Indeed, this was, quite easily the largest crowd in the facility's history: 13,507 in total were there this afternoon, more than three hundred more than the mark set just yesterday, for the Rockies-Dodgers game. This made getting up and down an exercise in gingerly picking your way through and over the attendees. I have, literally, been on less crowded London Underground trains. Fortunately, I needed to make only one such excursion, returning with a 32 oz iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts which, at $5, worked out cheaper than the water. You also can use the ice to cool down other water, and get to add as much caramel, etc. as you want. So, dessert and a beverage in one...
That's your handy tip for the day. Meanwhile, on the field? You really don't want to know. After a quiet first, Ray got into trouble in the second, walking the pitcher to load the bases, and then giving up a two-run double to Charlie Blackmon. However, he did seem to be getting squeezed, with this call apparently particularly wrong, which should have led to Blackmon taking his bat back with him to the dugout.:
While he didn't allow any more runs, Ray didn't seem particularly sharp, giving up five hits and a walk in three innings, albeit with four strikeouts. Ray's spring ERA is now 5.25, and while numbers aren't the most important thing in spring, he doesn't seem to have forced his way into a rotation spot. The fourth inning was pitched by A.J. Schugel who had looked really good in early going. Today: not so much, as two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Troy-boy, who promptly unclogged them with a double to the wall in center. Brad Ziegler's Cactus debut didn't start much better, the first batter homering, though after a walk and infield hit, he got the GIDP we know and love.
That meant the score in the middle of the fifth inning was 6-0 to Colorado, with the Diamondbacks having also been outhit through five innings by a margin of 10-2. A.J. Pollock had singled to lead off the first, but been promptly erased on a double-play ball off the bat of Aaron Hill [I suspect not the last time I'm going to be writing that sentence this season], and Jake Lamb had a two-out single in the second. We didn't even get a runner past first base until Pollock doubled with one out in the sixth, and Cody Ross, with two outs in the seventh, was the only other man Arizona put into scoring position.
By that point, I had just about given up on anything useful coming out of the game, and the B-squad was fully in action, though Evan Marshall worked a scoreless seventh for us. I think my subconscious was trying to help out, by getting me to "accidentally" smear a large dollop of complimentary sunscreen over my glasses. Unfortunately, I was still able to see the game. But another useful tip: rubbing an eye when you have sun-block on your hand is pretty much counter-productive. I basically ended up driving from Salt River Fields back to the 101 with one eye closed. This is not recommended.
Elsewhere, Josh Collmenter pitched five innings in a B-game, and faced the minimum, the only runner coming on an error by the first baseman. He threw 59 pitches and struck out two, so his scoreless spring streak remained intact, even including this non-Cactus League outing. Tomorrow it's over to Camelback Ranch to take on the Dodgers: Daniel Hudson is listed as the starting pitcher for Arizona, which seem interesting, since I thought it had been announced he was out of the running for a rotation spot? We'll see tomorrow, no doubt!