By Greg Dillard
In each game Willie Bloomquist has played in this season, he has collected at least one hit.
With a single in Friday’s contest against the Giants, Bloomquist extended his season-starting hitting streak to 10 games. It is currently the fourth-longest streak in the Major Leagues and sits in a tie for the franchise’s longest season-opening hitting streak. Steve Finley hit in 10 straight to open the season in 2000, and Danny Bautista opened with a hit in 10 straight in 2002.
In addition to collecting 16 hits, Bloomquist has swiped seven bases, driven in seven and smacked three doubles while playing both shortstop and left field.
“He’s played well,” Gibson said. “He keeps grinding. He adds something to our lineup.”
Blum making progress in extended spring
D-backs infielder Geoff Blum is continuing to make advancements in his return to the active roster.
Blum, who was signed by the D-backs in the offseason, was placed on the 15-day disabled list in March. He has battled right knee inflammation dating back to Spring Training.
“It’s been going decently,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “A little bit of soreness today. He got a couple hits the first day. I think he’s got 10 at-bats in the two days.”
Blum has been playing in extended Spring Training at the D-backs spring complex Salt River Fields. He has been limited to DH, but is expected to play third base in the coming days.
In non-game situations, Blum has been able to field ground balls, hit and do some light running. Although Blum continues to make progress, there is no definite timetable for his return.
“It’s possible by the end of next week he could go somewhere and start a rehab,” Gibson said.
Once he returns to the big league club, Blum figures to play an integral role off the D-backs’ bench. In his 12 year career, Blum has posted a .251 batting average with 468 RBI as primarily a role player.
Vasquez lights out in return to Major Leagues
Since being recalled from Triple-A Reno, relief pitcher Esmerling Vasquez has looked good the D-backs.
In two appearances, Vasquez has thrown 3 1/3 shutout innings. During that time, he’s struck out two and without walking a batter, while allowing only two hits.
“He’s throwing the ball good since he’s been here,” Gibson said. “He’s throwing strikes. The breaking ball is as good or better than it was at the end of Spring. His velocity has been up to 92 to 96.”
Gibson neutral in Coyotes/ Red Wings series
Gibson is among the many fans following the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With a win on Saturday, the Red Wings hold a 2-0 series lead as the series shifts to Glendale.
The former Detroit Tiger used to have Red Wings season tickets, but gave them up when he moved to Arizona.
Despite his former interest in the Red Wings, the skipper won’t take sides in this playoff series.
“I don’t think I can lose either way,” Gibson said. “I’m pretty neutral on it to be honest with you.”
By Greg Dillard
The D-backs shook up their bullpen Wednesday, recalling right-hander Esmerling Vasquez from Triple-A Reno, and optioning right-hander Kam Mickolio to Reno.
Vasquez is a familiar name at Chase Field as this marks his third season with the big league club. He made his debut in 2009, and has spent the majority of the last two season in the Major Leagues. During that time, Vasquez has posted a 4.81 ERA in 110 games.
Vasquez enjoyed a strong Spring Training, but just narrowly missed making the Opening Day roster. He didn’t have to wait long, just under three weeks, before receiving the call to the big leagues.
In his first day back in the Majors, Vasquez took the mound in the top of the fifth inning and retired Skip Schumaker to end the inning. He threw another full inning, allowing just one hit.
In his lone outing for Reno this season, Vasquez tossed a scoreless inning without allowing a base runner.
The young hurler is pleased with his recent results and is excited to be back in Sedona red.
“I’m working hard and I feel more comfortable with my mechanics,” Vasquez said.
As Vasquez embarks on his third season at the Major League level, he hopes to continue improving and learning.
“Every year you learn more,” Vasquez said. “When you see a couple pitchers who have a lot of time, you watch and you learn. I take something.”
Gutierrez rebounds after recent struggles
After struggling on the mound in recent outings, allowing three earned runs in each of his last two appearances, D-backs relief pitcher Juan Gutierrez began to look like his old self on Wednesday night.
Gutierrez entered the game in the top of the seventh inning, and threw two innings of one-hit, shutout baseball against the Cardinals.
In his two innings of work, Gutierrez struck out three of the seven batters he faced.
“Gutierrez threw good,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We had him on the mound before the game trying to get him to not overdo it. He threw the ball great tonight, and located much better. His breaking ball was much sharper.”
In the seventh, Gutierrez allowed a leadoff double, but quickly turned things around. One batter later, he induced a groundout off the bat of Jon Jay.
The next two Cardinals hitters, Allen Craig and David Freese, were strikeout victims.
The eighth was a little smoother for the right-hander. Schumaker lined out to the third baseman Melvin Mora before Gutierrez received a fly out and another strikeout to cap off his impressive performance.
Paterson tosses scoreless ninth
Gibson called on southpaw Joe Paterson to take over the pitching duties in the ninth, and Paterson showed why he belongs at the big league level.
Paterson toed the rubber, hoping to provide a quick inning for his team.
“I felt good,” Paterson said. “I wanted to come in, throw strikes, and get us back in as quick as we can.”
Paterson struck out opposing pitcher Eduardo Sanchez to start the inning. Next up was Cardinals centerfielder Colby Rasmus, who had already collected three hits in the game.
Paterson froze Rasmus for strike three and the second out of the inning. After Daniel Descalso singled to left, Paterson ended the frame by getting Jay to hit a weak groundout back to the mound.
It was another solid outing for the D-backs’ lone bullpen lefty. Paterson entered tonight’s contest with a 0.00 ERA in five appearances.
“It was good,” Paterson said. “I shouldn’t have ever gone full count with the pitcher, but it happens. My goal was to try and get guys out pretty quick. I was glad to go out there and pitch.”