Cactus League record: 7-7. Change on 2016: -3.5.
I know it’s only spring training, but Taijuan Walker has looked pretty damn awesome for the Diamondbacks. Today, he may have been facing a Milwaukee Brewers line-up that was only at 50% strength - this being a split-squad day for them - but he carved up the Brewers like a wire slicing through a block of Wisconsin’s finest dairy-product. He faced one batter over the minimum, a two-out walk in the fourth inning being the only batter to reach, and Taijuan fanned eight of the 13 men he faced, including six consecutive hitters. He sat comfortably in the mid-90’s and got as high as 97 mph, throwing a total of 60 pitches, 41 for strikes.
Clefo floated the idea of a “spring training Cy Young” on Twitter, and so far, Walker would certainly be among the runners. His line so far this pre-season:
Walker: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO, 0.00 ERA
Right now, Taijuan leads the majors in terms of scoreless pre-season innings, ahead of Cardinal Michael Wacha’s 8.0 frames and... Hey, look who’s tied for third, it’s none other than former D-back Josh Collmenter, who has an ERA of 0.00 after seven innings for the Atlanta Braves. He has had precisely one strikeout: Collmenter gonna Collmenter, I guess!
The shutout didn’t last long after Walker left. One pitch, to be exact, as Brian Matusz surrendered a home-run on the very first offering he threw up there in the fifth inning. Jorge De La Rosa posted a zero in the sixth, but all four batters he faced in the seventh reached base, on two walks and two hits, before J.J. Hoover came in to clean up the mess (really, that one wasn’t intentional, I swear!). Keyvius Sampson and Daniel Gibson took things the rest of the way, Gibson striking out two in the ninth, while allowing only an infield hit.
Arizona didn’t waste any time here, getting on the board in the first inning as Jason Pridie singled home Ildemaro Vargas. It was a one-run game from there until the fourth, when the Diamondbacks brought three across home-plate. Oswaldo Arcia homered for the second time, and later in the inning, Chris Iannetta and Nick Ahmed had RBI doubles. Ahmed added an RBI triple in the sixth, and scored himself as the Brewers second-baseman threw the ball into the dugout. He was the only D-back to reach safely more than once, as we made the most of our seven hits and no walks.
Domingo Leyba received a stern talking-to after his head-first slide into first base this afternoon. Manager Torey Lovullo spoke to him on the infielder’s return to the dugout and then the rest of the team, saying, “I told the rest of the dugout, ‘That’s enough. It’s got to stop.’” After the injury to Socrates Brito, I’d have thought that would go without saying, but I also note that Ahmed had a rather awkward slide into third, head-first, for his triple. Here’s footage of Lovullo, from the @JacksonGenerals’ Brandon Liebhaber.
Tomorrow, it’s the Giants who are the opponents, and Robbie Ray completes the third circuit round the location. He hasn’t allowed an earned run yet either, so let’s see if he can follow in Walker’s steps.