It is hard to find a player that has swung the bat better than Russell Branyan has for the D’Backs so far this spring and it continued on Wednesday afternoon.
Branyan hit a grand slam in the seventh to give his team a one-run lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Mike Hampton allowed a RBI single to the Rangers Mitch Moreland to even the score. The tie game wouldn’t last long though as Branyan came through once again with a RBI base knock in the ninth off Alexi Ogando to give Arizona a 9-8 lead before Emerling Vasquez would close out the game for Arizona’s 10th win of the Cactus League schedule.
Taking this game into account, Branyan is now hitting .457 with four home runs and 16 RBI in only 46 spring at-bats. Track that over the course of an entire 162-game season and Branyan is putting up Lou Gehrig type numbers down at first. As of now, it is hard to see Kirk Gibson keeping him off the Opening Day roster despite his defensive and strikeout issues. His bat has just been too good.
Besides Branyan’s heroics, the Diamondbacks got a few other positives. After Daniel Hudson allowed three runs in the third, only one of which was earned, Rafael Rodriguez came in and stopped the bleeding throwing two scoreless innings. It was a nice bounceback outing for a guy that blew a big lead against the Dodgers just last week. Joe Patterson struck out the only batter he faced, Juan Gutierrez had a perfect sixth inning and Vasquez was solid getting the final five outs. Only real concern was Hampton, who allowed the game-tying run.
There were some positives from the offense as well. Willie Bloomquist continued on with his hot spring grabbing two hits to raise his average to .411. Xavier Nady showed signs of life once again with two hits himself while driving in a run. That is now three base knocks in his last two starts after getting off to a really slow start. He is still in a competition with Gerardo Parra for the starting job in left field.