Record: 2-3. Change on 2016: -1.
I was a bit surprised how often teams issue double-digit walks. Counting only regulation games i.e. not extra innings, It happened 12 times last year, which is more than I’d expect - two of those were by the Diamondbacks, on April 7 against the Cubs, and August 6 against the Brewers. It’s not a recipe for success, obviously: the team in question went 1-11 in those games, conceding an average of more than 10 runs per game. [The D-backs’ losses were 6-14 and 6-15].
Which does make this afternoon’s contest kinda rare, in that despite those 10 walks, the White Sox scored only three times. Giving the opposition 10 free passes and holding them to less than four runs is not common. It has only been done once in the National League since 2010. That game came when the Cardinals somehow managed to shutout the Pirates, 3-0, in September 2015, despite allowing 10 walks and 6 hits. Pittsburgh went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position there.
No such luck here, though in line with shoewizard’s idea that in the first week of spring, we look at the score after five innings, I’m calling this one a moral victory for the D-backs, as we were 2-1 up at that point, when the starters were in game. That said, the control issues shown later on were apparent from the very first inning, in which Robbie Ray walked three batters; things might have become very ugly there, save for a pickoff of one of them. He escaped the frame, but was lifted one out into the second, having thrown his 35 pitches, 19 for strikes. No hits, and one strikeout, but it’s the control which will need to improve. Still, Ray didn’t seem too concerned:
“I’m not worried at all. First time out in spring training, I’m not really concerned about it... I felt good. Maybe it was just getting the first time back out on the mound (for why) I was a little jittery, but I felt good. “I felt like the ball was coming out pretty good and threw some good off-speed pitches today, too, so that was good.”
The best of the rest of the pitchers was probably Tyler Jones, who struck out the side in the fifth. Zack Godley got the two outs he recorded by the K, and there were scoreless innings by Tom Wilhelmsen (despite two walks), Evan Marshall and Jared Miller - the last now has a scoreless streak of 20 innings, across the Arizona Fall League and spring training. The run came elsewhere. Kevin Jepsen allowed Chicago on the board with a solo homer in the fourth. Yuhei Nakaushiro tied things up in the sixth, giving up a run on two walks and a hit - it would have been worse, but a runner was thrown out at home.
The Diamondbacks still came into the 9th inning tied at two. They scored their runs in the second and third innings, on a Chris Owings RBI single and David Peralta sacrifice fly, but were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Jake Lamb had two of the team’s eight hits, and Owings stole a base. But it all went for naught, as the White Sox edged it in the ninth. They had men on the corners with no outs against Kaleb Fleck, but it looked like he might escape, getting back-to-back K’s around an intentional walk of Yoan Moncada. But he couldn’t get the third out, a single giving Chicago the win in front of 2,896 at Camelback Ranch.
It’s a double-header tomorrow, with a split-squad of Diamondbacks, both games at Salt River Fields. They face the Padres in the afternoon, Archie Bradley getting the start there, and then take on the World Series champion Cubs at night, with Shelby Miller on the mound in what I presume is going to be close to a sellout.