The Opening Day Inside Pitch


Posted Apr 4, 2006


The Diamondbacks dropped their opener in Colorado, but the mental mistakes and bad breaks that cost the Snakes the game hardly spell doom for a young team. Scout.com takes you inside the clubhouse talking with Ken Kendrick and others.

INSIDE PITCH
    In his first Opening Day start, right-hander Brandon Webb more than
lived up to expectations. The Diamondbacks may have lost 3-2 in 11
innings to Colorado on Monday, but the right-hander was everything his
team needed and more.
    Webb held the Rockies to one run on five hits over seven strong
innings, throwing 95 pitches. He later said he could have easily gone
out for one more inning. Webb didn't, and in the eighth, Colorado's
Todd Helton tied the game with a double off lefty reliever Terry
Mulholland. Brad Hawpe's 11th-inning fielder's choice won it for
Colorado off Jason Grimsley.
    But Webb was story of the day for Arizona, pitching masterfully at
times even though he didn't have his featured sinkerball working as
well as he would have liked at Coors Field.
    "It was average. It wasn't great," he said. "I located decently and
got away with quite a few pitches, actually. This can be a tough place
to pitch, but I pitch the same way, keeping the ball down. You
especially have to try and do that here, but that's my game anyway."
    Manager Bob Melvin plans to pitch Webb on Saturday in Milwaukee. The
start could have fallen to Claudio Vargas, but with a scheduled day off
for the team on Tuesday before resuming its series in Denver, Webb will
be able to pitch on his regular four days' rest.
    "If we get that out of him every time out," Melvin said of Webb,
"he's going to have a hell of a year. ... He's not going to pitch too
much better than that. He shouldn't have to."
    REPLAY: A couple of defensive gaffes cost Arizona in the 11th inning
of their 3-2 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, as sure-handed second
baseman Orlando Hudson let a ball scoot under his Gold Glove and first
baseman Conor Jackson had problems gripping the ball and getting off a
quick throw home on what turned out to be a game-winning fielder's
choice.
    Hudson was trying to start a double play and turned too quickly to
field pinch hitter Jason Smith's grounder. But Hudson is one of the
best defensive players in the game, and Arizona has no worries about
his defense whatsoever.
    Jackson, on the other hand, is still learning the position, and
there are going to be some peaks and valleys to his play at first base.

NOTES, QUOTES
    --RHPs Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino, members of the 2005
World Series champion White Sox, left the Diamondbacks following
Monday's loss and traveled to Chicago to take part in a championship
ring ceremony Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Both will return to Denver in time for Wednesday's game, in which
Hernandez is scheduled to make his Arizona debut. The Diamondbacks
don't play Tuesday.
   --SS Craig Counsell made his third Opening Day start for the
Diamondbacks at a third position. In 2002, he began the season at third
base. Upon being reacquired from Milwaukee after the 2004 season, he
started last year's opener at second base. This year he is the regular
shortstop.
    --LF Luis Gonzalez needs five doubles to become the 44th player in
history to reach the 500 milestone. He needs four more to pass Al
Kaline, Bill Buckner and Sam Rice. Rusty Staub retired with 499
doubles.
    --1B Conor Jackson became the seventh different starting first
baseman the Diamondbacks have had in their nine Opening Day lineups. He
follows, in order, Chad Tracy, Richie Sexson, Lyle Overbay, Erubiel
Durazo, Mark Grace (2000-2001) and Travis Lee (1998-99).
    --CF Eric Byrnes collected his 400th hit off Colorado LHP Tom Martin
with a seventh-inning single. Byrnes had three hits Monday.
    BY THE NUMBERS: .327 -- LF Luis Gonzalez's career batting average
(in 272 career at-bats) at Coors Field, where the Diamondbacks open the
regular season.
    .264 -- RF Shawn Green's career batting average (in 216 at-bats) at
Coors Field.
    QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we had a couple more like him we'd be all right."
--Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick on Arizona's
Opening Day starter, Brandon Webb.
 



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