The Arizona Diamondbacks took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds to win their first home series of the 2021 season, but it was not without some fan disappointment in Chase Field concession lines on Opening Night. This tops our look at five big takeaways from the weekend in sports.
D-Backs get back-to-back solid wins over hot Reds team.
Starting pitcher Luke Weaver tossed a gem Sunday afternoon, allowing one hit and striking out eight in seven innings of work to lead the Diamondbacks to a 7-0 win over the Reds. That followed Riley Smith’s quality start the night before, in which he allowed two runs over six innings in his first career start to lead the snakes to a 8-3 victory. It gave Arizona its first series win of the young season, the offense came alive and it showed us what the back part of the starting rotation is capable of.
Big Takeaway: Cincinnati’s offense came into this series red hot, leading the National League in batting average, runs scored and home runs. Weaver and Smith shut it down with plenty of run support (15 runs and 23 hits combined those two games) to give the fans exciting baseball to watch.
Chase Field fails in fan experience for Opening Day.
As fun as Saturday and Sunday were at the ballpark, it was the complete opposite on Friday night for the home opener (a 6-5 loss in extra innings). Traffic control around the stadium was slow before the game, lines were long to get inside, concession lines were even longer and mobile food ordering on the MLB Ballpark app failed to work for most fans. In a statement released Saturday, the Diamondbacks organization recognized the massive failures of the fan experience at Chase Field on Friday and offered a free ticket to anyone impacted.
Big Takeaway: This was a shared experience for me. My mobile food order for the Taste of Chase booth was placed at 6:34pm and I waited a full hour before cancelling it. When I got up to see the line, it was at least 100 people deep (probably longer if I felt like counting). The line for a nearby beer cart was roughly 25 people long, so I got in that one and missed about one and a half innings. The adjacent Cold Stone Creamery cart was quick and efficient, so my kids ate ice cream for dinner that night and I had a single draft pour of SanTan Juicy Jack. We decided to leave in the 6th inning because we were hungry and the team wasn’t hitting anyway. This was the first real game with people back in the stadium in nearly 18 months, so we can assume Chase Field is working with many brand new employees who need to learn to work with large crowds. However, the crowd was limited to 20,000 fans (approximately 40 percent capacity). The D-Backs can’t afford to lose fans because of this.
Tim Locastro races into the record books.
Let’s get back into the positives for this team, because outfielder Tim Locastro has done something special to start his career. Locastro stole a base Saturday night and in the process he broke a major league record with 28 straight stolen bases to begin his career, surpassing the old mark set by Hall of Famer Tim Raines in 1981. Locastro’s cleats are now headed to baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Big Takeaway: Locastro also knocked around four hits Saturday night in the leadoff spot for the D-Backs. If he can hit for a decent average (.265 right now) and continue to get on base via walks and hit by pitch (22 HBP in 212 at bats in 2019), Locastro’s speed gives the D-Backs one of the better players in the league to bat leadoff.
Eduardo Escobar homers in four straight games.
The D-Backs third baseman has flipped a switch. After starting the season hitting .087, Escobar has launched a home run in a career high four straight games, raising his average more than a hundred points to .216.
Big Takeaway: Escobar is one of the streakiest hitters in all of baseball. If he has that left-handed swing right – look out! He brings some pop to the lineup and his hitting has a way of igniting the rest of the team.
Suns get important win over Utah.
We still have a little more than a month left in the NBA’s regular season, but Wednesday’s 117-113 overtime win over Utah had that playoff-like atmosphere. Guard Devin Booker led the way with 35 points and point guard Chris Paul added 29 in a thrilling nationally televised game between the top two teams in the West that lived up to the hype.
Big Takeaway: It wasn’t a major win because it’s still the regular season, but it was important because it proves the Phoenix Suns can hang with the best and find ways to win games that have that big-game feel to it. We can’t wait for the playoffs to get here and see how far this team can go.