Record 17-4-2. Change on 2015: +5.5
It has to be said that if Rubby De La Rosa had not been anointed the fourth starter before a single Cactus League pitch had been thrown, his spring performances might not have justified it, with a 6.59 ERA thus far. Tonight, he looked thoroughly unprepared early on, giving up four runs in the first, yet it appears the 8-Ball answered "Reply hazy, try again." For he eventually settled down, and the nine strikeouts returned over 5.2 innings was easily the most by any Arizona pitcher this spring. With only one walk allowed, there were some positives to be taken away from tonight. But the seven hits, including a pair of home-runs, and six runs allowed (one unearned)? Not so much.
Much as they did when they faced the Dodgers, and clawed their way back after allowing a four-spot in the first, the Diamondbacks offense helped bail their starting pitcher out. They scored single runs in each of the first four innings, though arguably some of these felt like wasted opportunities for more. Double-plays in both the second and third helped kill momentum, but there were still RBI for Jason Bourgeois and Jean Segura, as well as runs scoring on a wild pitch and one of those double-plays. With De La Rosa leaking like a featured extra in The Walking Dead, that helped Arizona keep the game close until Rubby left in the sixth.
It was certainly a day for strikeouts, as Arizona pitched piled up 18 of them. Particularly effective tonight were Jake Barrett who worked 1.1 scoreless, and Enrique Burgos whose new split-finger fastball looked particularly nasty, bringing him his two strikeouts. And Steve Hathaway finished things off in style, striking out the Giantsin the tenth. The D-backs have struck out as many in a regular-season game on a few occasions, but those were mostly long extra-innings encounters. The only time they managed that, as tonight, in ten or fewer innings, was way back on July 4, 2001, courtesy of Randy Johnson and Byung-Hyun Kim.
On offense, the big blow came in the bottom of the eighth. And we mean "big" in every meaning of the word. Peter O'Brien cranked his fourth homer of spring (below) a long, long way, almost up to the top of the the left-field berm. Statcast reported it at 461 feet, and 119.52 mph off the bat - the latter figure would have been the hardest-hit home-run in all of the major-leagues last season. With two men on base, that tied the game up at seven. Neither team threatened much thereafter, and the main point of note was seeing the Giants use two completely different players - one pitcher, one hitter - both wearing the number #77.
Elsewhere, there were two hits apiece for Chris Owings, Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb, with Welington Castillo getting a hit and a walk. Owings and Socrates Brito both stole a base, but once again, it was a somewhat sloppy game by the Diamondbacks, committing three errors for the second successive night. At least they weren't all by the same guy this time: Owings, De La Rosa and Phil Gosselin were the perpetrators this evening. 12,713 in attendance at Salt River for this one, though numbers were considerably thinned by the time this one finally ended, around 10:30 pm!
Tomorrow, it will be the Giants again, this time in an afternoon contest, and at Scottsdale. I think it's scheduled to be Robbie Ray starting for the Diamondbacks.