Record: 7-10-2. Five-inning record: 8-8-3.
Early on, it looked like we were in for a repeat of yesterday’s slugfest against the Dodgers. Arizona scored three times in the first, on Christian Walker’s fourth home-run of spring, as the Brewers starter failed to get through the first. Milwaukee then threatened to respond in kind: Caleb Smith was tagged for a lead-off homer, then a pair of hits put two men in scoring position with one out. However, both starting pitchers then settled down (the Brewers’ guy came back in the second), and there was no further scoring off either. Smith ended up going 4.1 innings on 73 pitches and five hits, with just that solo shot allowed, one walk and six strikeouts.
It was a bright start for the bats. Ketel Marte walked and Tim Locastro bunted for a single before Walker’s homer. Locastro doubled and walked later, also stealing a base - his spring OPS is now 1.200 (admittedly, small sample, even by spring standards, due to his COVID quarantine). Now, we’ve seen spring performances don’t guarantee a job - and they shouldn’t. But it’s hard to think anyone is better suited for right in Kole Calhoun’s absence than Locastro, and perhaps even take over for Marte in center, letting him go back to the infield when Calhoun returns. Walker also singled n addition to his homer; Josh VanMeter had a walk and a hit. Outside of Walker’s homer, the D-backs were 0-for-7 with RISP.
Also in the debit column, two hitters highlighted as struggling in the GDT, Carson Kelly and Daulton Varsho, combined to go 0-for-7, with a walk for Kelly. Their spring OPSs are down to .518 and .440 respectively. After Smith and two outs by Ryan Buchter, Yoan Lopez allowed a solo homer to make it 3-2, followed by a scoreless inning from Anthony Swarzak. There was then an inning by Tyler Clippard which... wasn’t scoreless. It was, in fact, awful. He faced six batters and retired none, on four hits (including a three-run homer), a walk and a hit batter. Throw in a wild pitch, and four runs scored before Clippard called for the trainer and Lovullo, and was removed mid-PA, which is never a good sign.
Taylor Guilbeau came in, and the Brewers scored before he’d even thrown a pitch, as a pickoff to third sailed wide, bringing a seventh run home. Two walks followed, the second coming on a wild pitch which scored run #8. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s also eight consecutive Brewers who reached base without an out being recorded. Guilbeau struggled with his control to, and it took the arrival of Tyler Gilbert finally to end the frame, by throwing three straight strikes. Clippard’s final line? 0.0 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO. Needless to say, his status was the first order of business in Torey Lovullo’s post-game press conference: “He’s got right shoulder discomfort and is being evaluated... We don’t have anything further than that.” It wasn’t a specific pitch but built over the inning.
We’ll see how that goes. Stay tuned...