The game started off promising enough. Matt Koch got through a scoreless first inning thanks to a nifty stop by Kelby Tomlinson to turn an inning ending double play. In the bottom half, facing Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, Steven Souza Jr. drew a leadoff walk, stole 2nd, and scored on an Ildemaro Vargas bloop hit into center to give the Dbacks a 1-0 lead.
Koch went on to post scoreless innings in the 2nd and 3rd, walking one but thanks to another double play, faced just the minimum batters.
John Ryan Murphy got his first hit of spring, a double to right field, and even stole 3rd base, but was stranded there when Tomlinson struck out and Juniel Querecuto grounded out to 2nd. The DBacks also had a runner in scoring position in the 3rd, thanks to a hustle double by Vargas, but again stranded the runner when Ketel Marte lined out hard to 2b and Christian Walker flew out to right.
Things turned sour for Matt Koch in the 4th. He had begun the game throwing 93-94 MPH 4 seamers, but by the 4th inning had lost a couple ticks off that. According to Torey Lovullo he also got away from the pitch sequencing that was working for him earlier, trying to lead with breaking pitches. That resulted in a leadoff walk to Ben Zobrist, a Kris Bryant single, and then a double smoked down the right field line by Anthony Rizzo . That produced 2 quick runs. 3 groundouts later one more run had scored, and the Cubs had a 3-0 lead. They would pad that in the 5th, when David Bote took Koch deep for a solo shot.
The DBacks meanwhile contiunued to put runners in scoring position, but failed to bring them home. They had runners on 1st and 3rd and one out in the 4th, but Tomlinson and Querecuto once again stranded the runners. This would be a theme for the rest of the day.
In all the DBacks managed 8 hits, including 4 doubles and drew 4 walks. But they were just 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position and never did manage to push across any more runs. The good news here I guess is the lineup only contained three projected starting players (Souza, Marte, and Carson Kelly ). Kelly showed good plate discipline today, seeing 19 pitches in his 3 PA, including 2 walks and a 4-6-3 DP that was hit sharply.
Rubby De La Rosa had a difficult time in the 6th inning, walking 2 and giving up 2 hits. He managed just 6 strikes among his 18 pitches, (2 of them being the base hits). Miguel Aguilar came on in relief of Rubby, gave up a hit and then had to be removed from the game due to an injury to a side muscle. Bud Jeter relieved him, and gave up a hit of his own. In all 3 runs scored in the inning, all charged to Rubby.
That closed out the scoring. Greg Holland threw a scoreless 1-2-3 7th. But he did it mostly throwing sliders and off speed stuff, as his 4 seam fastball is still stuck around 89-90 MPH. Yoshi Hirano worked around a leadoff walk to pitch a scoreless 8th, striking out the last two batters he faced. And Andrew Chafin got out of a jam caused by an error by Yasmany Tomas dropping a ball at first base. (Some say it was a bad feed from the secondbaseman, but I didn’t see that). Of note, Marcus Wilson made an incredible catch on a smash off the bat of Mike Zagunis to save a run. Racing all the way to the track in Left Center Field, Wilson dove fully outstretched on the dead run to make the catch as he slammed onto the track. He dropped the ball on the transfer, but the ball was correctly ruled a catch. (This time I caught the replay).
A few other notes:
A record crowd today of 14,035 enjoyed a perfect 76 degrees with a pretty swift breeze blowing in
Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones both played on the back fields yesterday and it sounds like both will be ready for opening day despite no commitment as to exactly when they would appear in official spring games.
Things are not looking as bright for TJ McFarland who has still not thrown off a mound, Torey Lovullo used the words “long shot” with regards to getting TJ into back to back games before the season starts, which is something he needs to do to be ready to start the year on the opening day roster.
David Peralta played on the back fields today along with 3 or 4 other regular starters, and hit the ball with the most authority, according to reports.
Tomorrow is split squad day. Brute Fest get together happening tomorrow for game vs White Sox at SRF. Pre game meetup at Buffalo Wild Wings, Pavillions Mall. It’s a split squad game, so if you are on the west side, you can catch the DBacks vs the Rangers in Surprise as well.