Record: 4-7. Change on 2017: -2.
Taijuan Walker started for Arizona, and was efficient and excellent. He had three innings of no-hit baseball, needing only 36 pitches [so, I suspect a bullpen session might have been in order - for the opposite reason Ray needed one yesterday!]. He faced the minimum nine batters, struck out four and would have had a trio of perfect innings, except for Nick Ahmed uncharacteristically bobbling a ground-ball to short in the second inning. However, Ahmed immediately redeemed himself, starting a double-play one out later that ended the inning, and in the bottom of the second, deposited a pitch quite some distance onto the berm in left-field, for the first hit of the game, giving the D-backs a 1-0 lead.
The rest of the home team’s pitching was little less impressive. Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley took the no-hitter into the sixth inning, before Bradley eventually allowed a lead-off single. But that runner was also erased, being caught stealing, and Archie went through his two innings of work, striking out one and getting his ERA down into the single-digits club. Braden Shipley went four up, four down, meaning through one out into the eighth inning, the D-backs had faced the minimum 22 batters. Jorge De La Rosa couldn’t keep it up, allowing a double and walk, before getting a K to end the threat, and Jake Buchanan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get the save and complete the two-hitter.
It was definitely the pitching’s time to shine, with the D-backs managing only six hits in front of a sold-out crowd at Salt River. Fortunately, two of those left the yard, both from unlikely sources: Ahmed and Rey Fuentes. The former, along with Paul Goldschmidt, had a hit and a walk, while designated hitter Jeff Mathis [no... it still doesn’t look right!] drew a pair of free passes, but is still looking for his first pre-season knock. Arizona drew seven walks on the day, a good ratio, while their pitchers had a K:BB of 9:1. After the last few games, this was likely the baseball equivalent of breathing into a paper bag!
Tomorrow, it’s an evening game, at the Peoria Sports Complex against the Padres, and will be our first (and only!) trip to spring training this season, as part of a Brute Squad get-together. So tomorrow’s recap will be a) late, and b) a bit more in detail, with photos and stuff. Providing I don’t fall unconscious somewhere...