Remember Stefan Crichton? The guy who ended last year as the Arizona closer, and posted an ERA of 2.42? I miss him. Going by this afternoon’s outing, that version of Crichton can now only be found on the side of a milk carton. Today, he faced six batters and failed to retire any of them, giving up two hits and three walks. All six then came around to score, and even if one run was unearned Stefan now possesses a real chonker of a spring ERA, at 15.75. I know spring training numbers are meaningless, but I’m certainly concerned to see Crichton allow eight hits and four walks in four innings. I imagine Joakim Soria will be our closer*. He pitched a scoreless frame... and got his spring ERA down to single digits, at 9.64.
Also today, J.B. Bukauskas is mortal. As noted earlier, he had retired the first 17 batters he faced this spring, 12 of them by the strikeout. That streak ended with the first man he saw today, who singled. Maybe Bukuaskas was disturbed by coming into a bases loaded, no out situation? All three of those inherited runners scored, as J.B. gave up two hits plus a wild pitch before escaping. And he was helped there by the White Sox TOOTBLAN-ing their way into an inning-ending double-play. By that point, however, they had batted around, sending ten to the plate and scoring six.
Up until then, it had been quite a well-pitched game by Arizona. Merrill Kelly allowed just the one run over five innings, on four hits and a walk, with six strikeouts. That was his best line of the pre-season: Kelly was clearly saving his best for last, with two runs over his final 9.2 spring innings. As well as Soria, Chris Devenski threw a scoreless inning, and kept his pristine 0.00 ERA. though had to pitch out of a jam, with runners on the corners and one out. On offense, Stephen Vogt and Josh Rojas each had two of Arizona’s eight hits. But the D-backs simply gave the White Sox too many changes, letting them have seventeen at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Tomorrow, is the final game before the team returns to Chase Field, against the Cubs at Sloan Park. Caleb Smith makes his final tune-up appearance, and note, first pitch is earlier than normal. at 12:05 pm.
* Torey Lovullo said after the game he doesn’t see an obvious closer, and would favor playing match-ups with a closer by committee. We’ll see how long that lasts. I don’t think I can recall any D-backs team ever playing it that way for an entire season.