Pitchers and catchers reported to camp over a month ago, but your Snake Pit recappers are just now emerging from their long slumber to knock the rust off. I have no idea how this season will go both on and off the field, but I will say that I’m cautiously optimistic that things will continue to improve. Undoubtedly, the Diamondbacks face an uphill battle in the National League West, yet I’m still looking forward to returning to the ballpark at some point during the season just to bask in the experience again. Double fisting $4 beers. Portillo’s sandwiches (hopefully they’re still at Chase Field?). Jalapeño sunflower seeds. The Lemonade Guy. The Brutes. The Pitters. Rally Sally. Super fan Susan. Yelling at the Jumbotron during the matching game. I’m ready for it all.
First things first. Tonight the Diamondbacks faced off against the Cleveland Indians at Salt River Fields. Both teams rolled out a lineup you can likely expect to see to begin the season. That was much welcomed by this recapper, as I did not have to start wondering who so-and-so was at the plate until about the 7th inning. Starting pitching for both teams was about what you should expect in the form of Caleb Smith and Aaron Civale. Not great, not horrendous, but did provide for some early offense. Ketel Marte drew first blood in the bottom in the first with an impressive home run to centerfield.
Where Ketel giveth he do taketh away in the top of the second with some defensive mishaps in the outfield. Franmil Reyes hit what should have only been a double to the wall in right center field, but Marte bobbled the ball allowing Reyes to take third base. Josh Naylor followed with a single which tied the game, and a subsequent walk put runners on first and second with no outs. Roberto Perez then hit a long fly ball to the wall in left center. Ketel may have had an opportunity to make a play on it, but the timing on his jump was slightly off (I criticize from the comfort of my couch). That brought in two more runs for Cleveland giving them the 3-1 lead.
The top of the Arizona lineup responded to Cleveland’s three spot in the second with four runs of their own in the bottom of the third. Ketel drew a one out walk, and consecutive doubles from David Peralta and Josh Rojas tied the game at three. Asdrubal Carbera punctuated the inning with a two run home run to deep right field.
Asdrubal got all of this one! pic.twitter.com/T9L76RXaZL— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 25, 2021
Caleb Smith gave one back to the Indians on a solo home run to Josh Naylor in the fourth inning. Arizona’s heavy hitters at the top once again linked at bats together to respond in the fifth. It began almost identically to the third with a Marte walk and Freight Train double, but instead of Rojas bringing in Marte this time it was Eduardo Escobar on a single to right field. That concluded the evening for Aaron Civale, and so began the musical chairs of substitutions for both teams. Arizona brought in Josh VanMeter, Trayce Thompson, Wyatt Mathisen, Juniel Querecuto, and Pavin Smith for Nick Ahmed, Marte, Peralta, Escobar, and Cabrera.
Caleb Smith gave up his fifth and final run in the sixth inning and was ultimately lifted for Taylor Guilbeau to close out the frame. The score remained that way for the rest of the game. Torey Lovullo used the final innings to get action for Jon Duplantier and Yoan Lopez on the mound and Mathisen, VanMeter, and Thompson in the outfield. Dup and Lopez made quick work in their two innings facing the minimum amount of batters.
The timeless Oliver Perez appeared for Cleveland in the sixth inning. Seriously, he pitched rather respectably for the D’backs 7 years ago, and I remember trading for him in video games as a teenager back in the 2000’s. The dude just keeps going and will just now be reaching 40 years old this season. He did hit Tim Locastro with a pitch, or rather Locastro tractor beamed one of Perez’s pitches towards him. Before Locastro had a chance to steal second base, Domingo Leyba grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Thank all that is holy I did not have to recap a tie tonight. Anthony Swarzak retired the Indians in order in the top of the ninth to bring a swift conclusion to the 6-5 victory. Although I do expect the Diamondbacks to have a difficult road ahead of them, I cannot express how grateful I am to be back here doing this again this season. It is not lost on me that we have lived/are living through a pandemic, and if we continue to make the right choices we will see this through. As of last night, I am 50% vaccinated and that much closer to getting back to Chase Field. There is a newfound appreciation from me, and I will not take any of this for granted.