Cactus League record: 10-8. Change on 2016: -3.5.
Taijuan Walker extended his scoreless streak to 11.2 innings before giving up his first run as a Diamondback tonight, against close to a full-strength Chicago Cubs line-up at Sloan Park. He certainly had to work harder tonight, and gave up some solid hits on his way to allowing a total of three runs, all earned. But there were still plenty of positives to take away, not least eight strikeouts over four innings of work, and no walks. That gives him a staggering K:BB ratio, over his four pre-season outings and 13 total IP, of 21:1. Tonight, he did allow back to back homers to start the fourth inning, after a two-out RBI single in the third. But he was also BABIP’d to death: Of the 19 batters he faced, nine put the ball in play, and five got hits, a .556 BABIP.
The pitchers who followed were arguably even sharper, five relievers combining for five shutout innings of one-hit ball. Tom Wilhelmsen struck out two in the four outs he recorded, and has looked among the best of the veteran relievers in camp. Randall Delgado also struck out two, in his inning of work, and there were scoreless frames from Erik Davis and Yuhei Nakaushiro (no longer officially in camp, but apparently still hanging around), with Brian Matusz notching the last two outs in the sixth, after Wilhelmsen departed. Another good night for our K:BB ratio, when was 12:0 for this game. It’s 157:50 for spring, the best ratio in the majors. (7th for K’s, 26th for BB).
The offense got 14 hits, though this was another “shoewizard loss,” as the D-backs trailed 3-2 after five innings. They powered back with two runs in the seventh and ninth, around another in the eighth. Ketel Marte had two hits and drove in a pair out of the leadoff spot, though was caught stealing; Brandon Drury was 2-for-2 with a walk; Oswaldo Arcia doubled and hit his team-leading third homer of spring (below); and Jeff Mathis picked up two hits, raising his spring average to .533. We did lose catcher Jeff Thole, who pulled up lame, feeling him hamstring pop when running to second. Time to update the roster watch spreadsheet before bed...
There were 15,404 in attendance at Sloan Park, and I can’t say I blame them. Tomorrow, it’s back to day games, with the D-backs heading into Central Phoenix for a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale. Robbie Ray gets the start there.