Record: 9-10-2. Change on 2018: -2. 5-inning record: 9-9-3.
The Diamondbacks offense has not been having the best of springs. After 21 games and almost seven hundred at-bats, they are hitting a collective .250/.320/.373. The resulting .693 OPS ranks ahead only of the Cardinals this spring. Now, we all know exactly how predictive spring training statistics are - hardly at all. But when the numbers do line up with pre-season concerns about the offense seen as potentially struggling to score runs, we can be forgiven for loosening our shirt collars nervously. In particular, the fourteen home-runs hit by Arizona this spring is the fewest of any team in baseball.
This afternoon at Tempe Diablo, Arizona were held to just four hits: singles by 2B Wilmer Flores, SS Ildemaro Vargas and RF-CF Matt Szczur, and a double off the bat of SS Nick Ahmed. Flores and Ahmed each had a walk. The D-backs had only two at-bats with a runner in scoring position, and only scored their solitary run on a wild pitch. They have managed just sixteen runs over their last six games, dating back to the first game in Mexico. Too early to panic, naturally. But with less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, I’d rather they started poorly, and rounded into form as we moved through the spring. Still, the best-hitting teams last spring? The Padres, Indians, Giants and Royals.
The lack of offense perhaps overshadows another decent outing from Merrill Kelly, who was probably one mistake from five shutout innings. Albert Pujols may fall a long way short of justifying his $27 million salary for the Angels this year, but he still is apparently capable of clobbering poorly-located pitchers into the bleachers. I trust Merrill has learned a valuable lesson from this. He went 4.2 innings, allowing the two-run shot to Pujols, as well as two other hits, while walking one and striking out two. Marc Rzepczynski walked two before getting the last out in the fifth. Nick Green tossed a pair of scoreless frames, though walked two and struck out none, and Alex Young had a clean eighth.
Tomorrow, the Cubs come to Salt River Fields, with Matt Koch starting for the D-backs. It’s a radio game, available on ESPN Phoenix 620.