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Diamondbacks 2, Cubs 10: Bear-ly believeable

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MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Record 4-2-1. Change on 2018: +1.5. 5-inning record: 4-1-2.

Safe to say, this afternoon’s contest at Salt River Fields, in front of a sold-out crowd, will have been considerably better appreciated by the wintering Chicago snowbirds, than the hometown fans. Arizona’s offense was kept off the board until a Kevin Cron home-run in the ninth inning, while the pitching and defense weren’t up to much at all. Our pitchers allowed 10 runs on 12 hits and five walks. Three of those runs were unearned, thanks to a trio of errors by Cron at the hot corner, so his ending of the shutout was hardly sufficient compensation. For the first televised game of the year on Fox Sports Arizona... Well, I won’t blame you if you found something else to do, long before the end.

Robbie Ray was the starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks, and had a fairly Ray-esque outing for his spring debut. A one-out walk in the first was followed by a wild pitch, and the runner came around to score on an RBI single. But Ray stranded a man who had reached third with one out, and followed up with a scoreless second inning, around a one-out single. He finished the second off by retiring former Diamondback Evan Marzilli; a lead-off single in the third was erased by a caught stealing, and one out later, Ray’s day was done. His final line was one run over 2.2 innings of work, on three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. That was definitely one of the day’s better pitching performances by Arizona.

The bulk of the damage was done against two men who are expected to be part of the Opening Day bullpen. Greg Holland made his D-backs debut and failed to impressed, having to be bailed out without getting through the fourth inning. With one out, he allowed a single, a walk and then a three-run home-run to Mark Zagunis. He did strikeout the last batter he faced. T.J. McFarland also couldn’t get through the five-run seventh, allowing three hits and four runs in 0.2 innings. In his defense, he wasn’t helped by Cron’s first error, or by Sam Lewis allowing a three-run shot that allowed both runners he inherited to score. As a result, two of the four runs charged to McFarland were unearned.

Taylor Widener did throw a pair of scoreless innings, despite issuing back-to-back four-pitch walks with one out in the fifth. An Addison Russell double-play with the bases loaded were all that allowed Widener to escape unscathed. Jimmie Sherfy gave up a run on two hits in the eighth, and Stefan Crichton worked a scoreless ninth around errors #2 and #3 by Cron. It was a good day for our catchers at the plate, Alex Avila and Daulton Varsho evenly splitting a 4-for-4 game. But the D-backs didn’t have a hit with a runner in scoring position until Varsho’s RBI double with one out in the ninth, scoring SS Jazz Chisholm.

Not the start to March we wanted. Here’s to better tomorrow, when the Dodgers are the opponents for the first time this year. Matt Andriese is the scheduled starter at Salt River Fields on Saturday afternoon.