Arizona Diamondbacks Whip Oakland Athletics in Spring Training Opener

Diamondbacks Athletics
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Nick Ahmed #13 of the Arizona Diamondbacks in action during the spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 23, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Diamondbacks 7, Athletics 3

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Feb. 23) – The Arizona Diamondbacks notched 13 hits en route to a 7-3 victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics on Sunday at Salt River Fields. Left-hander Robbie Ray pitched 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball to get the win, while right-hander Chris Bassitt took the loss.

The Diamondbacks received two-hit performances from center fielder Jon Jay, reserve first baseman Pavin Smith, second baseman Ketel Marte, shortstop Nick Ahmed, and designated hitter Wyatt Mathisen. They began scoring early, with Marte – batting second – sending the seventh pitch of the bottom of the first halfway up the grass seating berm in right field for a towering home run. Walks by right fielder Kole Calhoun and third baseman Jake Lamb – sandwiching a called strikeout by first baseman Kevin Cron – put runners on first and second with two out for Ahmed. On 2-2, he grounded a single up the middle, scoring Calhoun.

The scoring continued in the second, as three straight singles by Mathisen, Jay, and Marte loaded the bases for Calhoun, whose sacrifice fly to center plated Mathisen for a 3-0 lead. They added three more runs in the third on a two-run single by Mathisen and an RBI single by Jay, and the rout was on.

Athletics Score Three

Oakland got on the board in the top of the fourth on a single by right fielder Chad Pinder and a follow-up double by first baseman Seth Brown that scored pinch-runner Greg Deichmann from first. Four batters later, with Brown on third, left fielder Skye Bolt on first, and two out, shortstop Ryan Goins singled up the middle to bring Brown home for the second Oakland run. A double by catcher Carlos Perez, up next, scored Bolt and sent Goins to third, making the score 6-3.

One more run came across for the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning. Reserve third baseman Ildemaro Vargas led off with a double to right. He advanced to third when reserve shortstop Domingo Leyba followed with a groundout to second. Reserve center fielder Ben DeLuzio came up next and wowed the crowd with a triple to the wall in center, scoring Vargas while showing off his blazing speed.

Doing the Little Things

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo praised his players’ effort in doing the “little things” right. One example was the fact that on both of Ahmed’s singles up the middle, Lamb hustled his way from first to third. Both times, Ahmed advanced to second when the center fielder tried to throw Lamb out at third. Mathisen also went first-to-third in the big third inning on a single by Jay. Another example came in the sixth, when Smith tagged and advanced from first to second on a fly to the center-field wall. “We run the bases efficiently. We run the bases in a pretty aggressive way but don’t run into outs,” said Lovullo.

Another “little thing” that may have gone unnoticed by most happened in the top of the fifth. Josh Green was on the mound, and Deichmann was on first. Brown was at the plate, and heralded prospect Daulton Varsho was catching. On 3-2, Deichmann broke for second. Brown swung and missed, and Varsho’s throw to second was perfect. Leyba hardly had to move his glove as he tagged Deichmann for the third out. That was the “big thing.” Lovullo identified the “little thing” after the game – Green holding the runner on. “He picked to first base (and) held the runner in check there. (Deichmann) didn’t get a great jump on the pitch. (Green) executed a great gameplan and gave his catchers and infielders a chance to make that play.”

Fans can expect to see the Diamondbacks doing the “little things” right throughout the season. Lovullo said, “Those are the concepts we’re constantly pounding down these guys’ throats. We’ve talked about it at great length, and they trust it. When it works, it’s pretty powerful.”

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