The Diamondbacks opened their 2019 Spring Training schedule on a crisp, sunny, 52 degree day at Salt River fields. With the snow capped Mcdowell Mountains and Four Peaks in the background, today was a day the fans sitting on the sun side along the 3rd base line got the better of it. Next week will be a different story I suppose as the temps should reach the mid 70’s.
Rule 5 pick Nick Green got the start for the Diamondbacks today. He successfully navigated two scoreless innings, working around a 2 out double by David Dahl in the first, and a HBP and a Walk in the 2nd as the Ketel Marte Nick Ahmed keystone combo picked him up with a nifty double play. Green’s Cut Fastball, Curve and Slider combo looked pretty good to me. But he will have a tough road to make the opening day roster. Perhaps the DBacks will end up trying to make a trade for him before the end of spring. If they can’t and he doesn’t make the roster , he will have to be returned to the Yankees.
In the bottom of the first Steven Souza Jr. came up with 2 on and 2 out, and jumped on a hanging curveball from Chad Bettis, knocking it for a 3 run homer to Left Center Field. Unfortunately that would be all the scoring on the day for the DBacks. The Starters managed to scratch a few infield hits, one by Yasmany Tomas and another by Ketel Marte. However by the 5th inning the starters were all out of the game and the reserves could do no better.
Meanwhile, Green was pulled after 2 innings, and was relieved by Marc Rzepczynski, who if he makes the team will be referred to by his nickname “Scrabble” from here on out. He worked a perfect 3rd, retiring the side in just 9 pitches. Next out of the pen was Jimmie Sherfy. Things did not go so well for him, as he struggled with his mechanics and very inconsistent fastball velocity and command. After surrendering a leadoff double to David Dahl, he hit Trevor story with a pitch. Story was removed from the game with an elbow contusion. After a strikeout, Sherfy gave up a sharp single through the box to score two runs, then allowed another single, but got out of the inning with just the 2 runs allowed by inducing a 6-4-3 double play.
Joey Krehbiel pitched the 4th inning and although he was pumping 94-95 MPH fastballs. he too would give up a couple of hits and a run, allowing the Rockies to tie it up 3-3 in the top of the 5th. Following that, Ryan Atkinson came on to throw an impressive 6th inning. Firing 95MPH fastballs at the top of the zone Rockies hitters could not catch up to, he retired the side in order with 2 K’s, one swinging and one looking.
Joel Payamps worked a scoreless 7th, but after giving up a leadoff single in the 8th, Sam Hilliard ripped a line drive homerun down the right field line to give the Rockies the lead 5-3.
The DBacks did have a couple of moments where it looked like they might get back on the board. In the bottom of the 7th Jazz Chisholm drew a one out walk, and then Kevin Cron hit a deep smash to the warning track in Center Field. But Rockies CF Yonathon Daza made a nice running grab with his glove fully extended to rob Cron of extra bases. The DBacks threatened again in the bottom of the 8th. With 2 out and 2 on, Tim Locastro hit a slicing liner to right , but Hilliard made a nice catch after getting turned around to end the inning.
The Rockies put two more runs on the board in the top of the 9th on a two run home to left by Colton Welker off a Stefan Crichton 0-2 curveball. Hard throwing Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence, who impressed me quite a bit in the Arizona Fall League, came on to pitch an dominating 1-2-3 9th to end the game.
A note about the Pitch Clock: It was in use this game, as it will be for all of spring. One could barely notice, and Torey Lovullo mentioned in the post game that the players didn’t even mention it during the game. Torey also said the umpires aren’t really enforcing it yet. I happened to notice that once the pitchers came set, and the clock stopped counting down, a couple of the Rockies pitchers seemed to hold set longer than normal. But that was about it.
Robbie Ray will be the starter tomorrow when the DBacks play the Cleveland Indians tomorrow in Goodyear , game time is 1:05.