Despite a less than ideal start from Sonny Gray the Athletics emerged victorious after nearly four hours of classic spring training ball. The football score outcome came from some hot young Oakland bats and dubious performances from pitchers on both teams. The Diamondbacks' Shelby Miller made quick work of the A's in the top of the first recording a grounder and two fly outs to retire Rajai, Lowrie, and Joyce. The latter two were solidly struck balls at least and gave a glimpse of encouragement that would soon be forgotten in the second half of the frame.
Sonny's Shaky Start
Gray never got a firm grasp on the game today and started by allowing a lead off triple to Gregor Blanco. Mat Joyce did a poor job digging out the sharply hit ball to the right field corner and maybe could have held Blanco to a double. The next hitter Peralta perhaps would have K'd had Phegley corralled the swung-at breaking ball in the dirt but instead it skipped away from him allowing the run to score with hitter safe on first. A walk followed, then a low laser hit by Lamb squeaking past Alonso into right field allowing another run to score. It looked like Phegley was planning a back pick throw to Alonso which had him closer to first than usual and allowed the hit to get by. Today was not Phegley's finest effort behind the dish and he deserves a some of the blame for the runs tagged on Sonny. Ketel Marte then crushed his second pitch out of the park bringing the damage up to 5 runs for the Diamondbacks. Next was another walk, drawing a visit to the mound from Curt Young. Finally Sonny caught a break with a much needed double play, then ended the nightmare inning with a strikeout of the 8th and final batter, shortstop Nick Ahmed.
Oakland bats answered back to start the second inning. Khris Davis started off with a typical feast or famine weak ground out. Plouffe drew a walk and Yonder crushed a book-rule double bouncing over the right field fence. Semien singled to right field scoring Plouffe. During Phegley's at bat Marcus went on to steal 2nd base drawing a wild throw which allowed Alonso to score. 9th plate hitting DH Smolinksi, nursing a sore shoulder, nailed a nice RBI double to left center on a hanging slider from Miller. Rajai grounded out to end the encouraging inning of the A's answering back for their battered starter, cutting the deficit to 2 runs.
Sonny's troubles continued in the bottom of the second with more walks, a passed ball from Phegley, and more loud contact. He managed to close out the inning on an ugly play off a ball hit to right field by Marte scoring a run but resulting in an out at first after the relay to the infield. Sonny's final line: 2IP, 5 hits, 7 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1HR.
Plouffe, Alonso, and Semien proved to be the tough part of the A's lineup today (did you ever expect to read that sentence?) adding on in the 3rd including a two RBI triple from Marcus. Chris Smith, who is a pitcher for the Oakland A's, recorded a smooth 1-2-3 inning with some weak contact from the Diamondbacks he faced.
Madson made his spring training debut starting fresh in the bottom of the fourth but quickly got into traffic giving up a first pitch double on what looked like a changeup hanging in the zone. Last year's closer didn't inspire confidence but it's too early to really get a read on his stuff. There were definitely some odd pitches thrown deviating from the usual fastball/changeup repertoire. He wasn't blowing anyone away with swing and miss stuff but did induce a pair of ground outs (while also allowing two runs).
The dangerous duo of Plouffe and Semien drew blood again in the 5th, making it a 3 for 3 day at the plate for the shortstop. Despite lackluster pitching the A's were once again within two runs in a 10 to 8 game. Dull came in to pitch and got a pair of strikeouts while also coughing up a run in one inning of work. No one could anticipate the carnage that would come in the inning after the 5th.
The 6th Inning
The afternoon was looking pretty grim after some depressing performances from important A's pitchers. Fortunately the D'Backs manager decided to let a pair of pitchers sink or swim, and they elected to do the former as the entire A's lineup absolutely teed off against them going through the order nearly twice. After the dust settled 15 A's batters plated 11 runs in the inning at the expense of Archie Bradley and Jared Miller. Most notable were Brugman and Chapman's two hits apiece in the inning including a towering hit from Chapman that bounced off the top of the fence back into play for a 3-run triple. It was encouraging to see lots of quality hitting from the young Athletics.
The remainder of the game breezed by fairly quickly with Raul Alcantara cruising through two innings retiring his first six batters faced. Matt Olson tacked on with a two run homer in the 9th. Alcantara was left out to close the game and started to run out of steam, giving up hits and walks and was finally bailed out by Simon Castro for the final out of the game with a strikeout. Final score: Athletics 21, Diamondbacks 13.