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Diamondbacks 3, Indians 2: One for the Road

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Taylor Widener impressed in his final spring start. The offense? Not so much, though we did get there in the end.

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Spring training is weird. Specifically, when I watch a spring training game, I find it nearly impossible to judge whether the Diamondbacks had a good day or not. To be sure, the team and all the players would prefer to win spring training games, but that’s really not the priority. That’s not what these games are for. And I don’t know what to do with that as a fan, especially since I’m not well-informed regarding what each player is working on/working through on a given day, so it’s not clear how to judge the team’s success.

Thankfully, however, today marked the last spring training contest of 2021, and while the Diamondbacks didn’t win [Jim with the flying edit out of nowhere!], the outing was nevertheless...useful? I guess?

Taylor Widener and a reasonably plausible iteration of the opening day lineup faced off at Chase Field against righty Aaron Civale and the Cleveland Indians. Widener is going to begin the regular season as a member of the starting rotation, due to the Zac Gallen injury, and on the broadcast they were saying that the goal for this start was to stretch him out to 75 or 80 pitches. Despite surrendering a solo homer in each of the first two frames, Widener pitched well overall. He wound up throwing 86 pitches over 5 2/3 innings striking out 7 while giving up four hits and two walks. One thing I found myself keeping an eye on was first-pitch strikes, and in that respect Widener was very good, jumping ahead of 17 of the 23 batters he ultimately faced. Aside from two hanging change-ups that got launched over the right field fence, he threw a damn good game.

The rest of the team, at least the starters, were pretty disappointing in contrast. Civale set down the first eight Diamondbacks he faced, before Widener himself blooped a little opposite-field single to left with two outs in the third. Ketel Marte followed with a double down the right field line, advancing Widener to third, but a David Peralta flyout to shallow left ended that threat. We did manage to get a run across in the fourth in a way that somehow wound up feeling like a wasted opportunity, as Eduardo Escobar—playing 2B this afternoon, oddly—drew a lead-off walk. One out later, Asdrubel Cabrera, playing 3B this afternoon, advanced him to second with a single up the middle. Josh Rojas then singled to right, but got caught in a run-down on the throw back into the infield. Escobar scored and Cabrera advanced to third, but Rojas’s TOOTBLAN kind of killed our chanaces of putting up a crooked number.

And that was pretty much all she wrote until the very end. Both teams started pulling starters after the fourth inning was over, which always means that we’re into the silly part of the game. The D-Backs bullpen was pleasingly effective, giving up two hits and nothing else over the last 3 1/3 innings of the game. Meanwhile, the Indians’ pen was similarly effective up until the eighth. Tim Locastro led off the eighth with a single into center field, and promptly stole second. One out later, Wyatt Mathisen was hit by a pitch, and a subsequent wild pitch by whoever was throwing for the Indians at that point advanced the runners. After a second out, a young gentleman named Jake McCarthy (I know, who?!?) singled to right, scoring TLo and Mathisen. Spring training bullpen standout J.B. Buskauskas pitched around a one-out single in the ninth to earn his first spring training save.

So that was a nice way to end. Onwards to the regular season, and to games that actually count! See you all on Thursday!