There wasn’t a whole lot of positive aspects to today’s Cactus League matchup between the Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields. A.J. Griffin was pretty much it. Making his first ever start in the Cactus League, Griffin pitched two very impressive innings, allowing just a single basehit and striking out 3. Once Mike Ekstrom took the hill, it was all downhill for the A’s pitchers and the game as a whole.
The offense for the most part had just as uninspiring a day as the pitching staff did. Derek Norris did hit his first home run in the 3rd inning, but that was about the extent of the A’s offense until an outburst in the 9th inning took place when the game was well in hand. Only Seth Smith, Derek Norris, and Hiroyuki Nakajima were able to get hits from the starting lineup. Nakajima’s single was his first of the Spring, and the first hit he’s recorded in the United States. CSN’s Casey Pratt reported that Nakajima said after the game that he had been anxious to get his first hit out of the way, and that before his at bat when he singled, he was told by Chili Davis to try and calm down. Chili knows what he’s talking about, and it worked for Nakajima.
Michael Choice cooled off a bit, going 0-3 in his first start of the Spring, but his counterpart atop the A’s prospect list, Addison Russell, tallied two more hits after taking over at shortstop for Nakajima. Russell is now hitting .600 in the early goings of Spring. Jefry Marte, Russell, and Andy Parrino combined to rally for 3 runs in the 9th inning to reduce the harshness of the rout to just 5 runs.
The bullpen for today’s game consisted of pitchers who will be fortunate to log any time in Oakland in 2013, and most likely will spend their time in Sacramento or Midland. Mike Ekstrom, Arnold Leon, and Blake Hassebrock each surrendered 2 ER in their appearances today, and T.J. Walz and James Simmons delivered scoreless innings. Simmons once again looks to build a resume to gain a spot in the Athletics bullpen come April.
The A’s will return to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to face off against the San Diego Padres as Dan Straily makes his 2013 Cactus League debut. Chris Young will return to the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game with quad cramps, he’ll play right field once again.