It was a line in the box score I hope to see a lot more of during the regular season. Byrnes 2-4 1R 2RBI 0SO 0LOB. Admittedly, it could have just as easily been 1-4 0R 0RBI. But some days, it’s better to be lucky than good.
After going 0-2 his first two times up, Byrnes hit a double to left. The ball was sharply hit and relayed back into the infield quickly. The runner coming home would have been a dead duck but for the fact that Prince Fielder had a brain cramp and cut off the throw. Catcher Johnny Estrada threw up his hands in disgust. Obviously, he hadn’t called for the throw to be cut off. But it was, and Byrnesie has his first RBI of the spring.
Byrnesie owes his second double, second RBI and the R to the fact that minor leaguers were in right and center when he batted the last time. He swung at the type of low and away pitch he needs to learn to take. (Yeah, the D’Backs were on TV, so I got to see it). He lofted it into right center and the two outfielders, who had been playing deep out of respect for the pop in Byrnesie’s bat, gave chase. However, as they both neared the ball, neither of them took charge and the ball fell between them. In the blink of an eye, Byrnes was on second and a run scored. Later, he scored.
He’ll take it, and so will I. But I wish he’d lay off those pitches wide of the plate. When the big boys are in the outfield, they won’t misplay a shallow fly into a double.
Around this time of year, you often hear that the pitchers are ahead of the hitters. But this afternoon, John Lackey of the geographically-challenged Angels showed that he was ahead of most pitchers. In his first spring start, Lackey threw 3 innings, giving up two hits, 1 run and striking out 5, including leadoff hitter Eric Byrnes twice. The Diamondbacks eventually won the game 10-7, thanks to their ability to get to the pitchers who followed Lackey. But if this had been a regular season interleague meeting, with Lackey going much deeper into the game, they would have been in big trouble. D’Back starter Doug Davis gave up 3 runs in 2 innings. He got hit in the left-forearm to start the third and his successor, M. Elliott, whoever he is, gave up 1 run. In other words, the Snakes were down 4-0 after four innings. Sound familiar?
(Davis is OK and is expected to make his next start).
Now that it’s the second week of spring training, it’s time for Eric Byrnes to take it up a step. In addition to the 2 Ks, he walked and scored a run in the D’Backs 5-run seventh. That’s his 5th run scored this spring. His K/BB ratio is 1.00, which is very good. But he still has no RBI and only 1 XBH, the two-bagger he hit his very first time up this Cactus League Season. I wish I could see what the problem is, but I have yet to see the D’Backs on TV this Spring. (Drumming fingers impatiently).
Judging from what the Angels radio announcers said at one point, I would hazard a guess that his bat speed isn’t there yet. But it’s really hard to tell when the announcers go two or three pitches talking about something other than what is happening and you don’t have a picture to see for yourself.
The final score was Texas 9 Arizona 8. Both teams had 14 hits and committed 2 errors. But it wasn’t that close.
In the third inning, Arizona starter Livan Hernandez was rocked for six runs. Then he was sent out there again in the fourth, where he got only one out and was charged with three more runs. Why that happened, I haven’t clue. It’s spring training, so it’s not like BoMel didn’t have any extra relief pitchers. So the Diamondbacks, who scored a run in the fourth, were down eight runs instead of just five when the second half of the game began. Yeah I know all that stuff about how it’s just spring training and the games don’t count, but considering what happened later on, if Hernandez had not been sent out in the fourth, the Diamondbacks might have won. And if they’re going to be contenders this year, they’re going to need some comeback wins. It’s easier to come back from five runs down than from eight runs down.
Livan wasn’t the only bad news. Eric Byrnes, batting third, had his first bagel of the spring: 0-3 including a double play and his first strikeout of the spring. In a word: YUCK! And Chad Tracy committed his first fielding error. All I could think of what was that, last year, Tracy was compared to A-Rod, and not because of his offense.
I hope Eric Byrnes can warm up in the 3 hole, because, despite the fact that I’ve been arguing that he should bat fifth for quite some time now, there is logic in his batting third. He wants to steal more bases this year and that would be easier without the slower Tracy and Jackson on the basepaths ahead of him. I still wouldn’t mind seeing him hit fifth, however.
The Diamondbacks website is taking a poll on who should bat fourth. I voted for Conor Jackson and decided to post my preferred lineup, so here it is:
Of course, there could be changes during the year. For example, if Chad Tracy does, in fact, use more of the entire field, and does cut down on his strike outs, and if the slow-footed Jackson is clogging up the basepaths in front of the fleet-flooted Byrnes, I’d move Byrnes to third, make Tracy the clean-up hitter and drop Jackson back to fifth.
Eric’s really into it here. The guys in the background? Not so much.
Thanks to M. Spencer Green of the AP for this. Gee, being out in the sunshine taking pictures of Eric Byrnes and getting PAID for it! What a concept!
UPDATE: Eric batted 3rd in the D’Backs 9-0 pasting of the Giants. He went 1-2–the 1 was a broken bat single that loaded the bases–and a walk (grin) after which he scored. That’s 4 Rs, but we’re still looking for the first RBI.
Eric Byrnes, who did not play yesterday, batted leadoff in this afternoon’s split squad game against the Seattle Mariners. (He also played centerfield). Byrnesie got one hit, a single, in 2 ABs, and he scored in Arizona’s 6-4 win.
Byrnes has now scored a run in each of the three games he’s been in. That’s a change from all the times last year his teammates left him stranded. Let’s hope we’re seeing the formation of a new good habit of driving in runs that will have Byrnesie crossing the plate at least 100 times this season.
The Philadelphia Phillies are being chintzy-cheap with Ryan Howard. I know there’s a lot of people out there who would not call $900,000 chintzy-cheap. But given today’s baseball market and given what Ryan Howard has accomplished it was chintzy-cheap of the Phillies not to make him a millionaire. The baseball gods will remember that, and so will Ryan and his agent.
Eric Byrnes got a couple of at-bats in the 5-hole today. He singled and walked and stole a base and scored a run. Not bad for half a day’s work. That’s two runs he’s scored in two days. Now I’m just waiting for that first home run and that first non-homer RBI.
Not that I’m just sitting home drumming my fingers till he does it. I’ve been on a little spending spree this week, nothing outrageously luxurious, but a number of things that will make life more comfortable. Like a local bus pass; I haven’t had one in three or four years. And a pair of speakers for my new computer. They were only 10 bucks but they do the job of allowing me to listen to baseball on the computer while doing housework, which is about the only way I can tolerate housework.
I found a sale on blank CDs so I bought some to archive my work. (I recently finished a half-hour public affairs program on wildlife conservation in Australia. It’s a further development of the podcast called "Rue for ‘Roos" that is attached to this blog).
I bought a short book of music called "Bach for Beginners." I am going to renew the study of classical music that I let go of in the early ’90s when the governor of California chose to cut state support of the California State University system while adding funds to build more prisons. The cuts drove me out of school. I’ll study on my own this time.
And I bought one more thing, actually two, which represents the biggest renewal of all: a baseball glove and a ball. I haven’t owned a glove since early high school, maybe grade school. And I know I had softballs but I can’t recall owning a baseball. (At least not for playing purposes. I had a baseball for a while a few years ago, which I got for winning my company’s fantasy league, but I don’t remember if I gave it to my team co-owner after a while or if it’s around the apartment somewhere buried under some junk). I have found a woman of my age who is willing to play catch. The exercise will help me rebuild the flexibility and strength of my slightly-impaired right arm, and will be non-laborious and noncompetitive and thus be more helpful to lower my blood pressure than the gym stuff that feels more like work than fun. And it will be out in the open air and I won’t have to pay 50 bucks a month for it. I have a few other plans for that type of exercise that I’ll build into as the days around here grow longer and warmer and drier.
Of course, the glove will have other uses. I’ll wear it in the left field bleachers at "Ballpark by the Bay" so that I’ll be ready when Eric Byrnes hits one my way. My first chance at this will come in the third week of April.
The Diamondbacks have just started their first spring training game, versus the White Sox. Byrnesie led off with a double and was driven home by an O-Dawg double.
What a great way to start! Whatever jitters players may have about getting that first hit of the year were not in evidence with Byrnesie. He hit the second pitch he saw, the first being a ball. I hope he does the same on April 2nd, when the real games start. Last year, he did not score his first run until April 12th.
Fast start this year, Byrnesie! And an 8-month-long May in 2007!