HOF cleats, 'dream' 1st start key D-backs 'W'

April 11th, 2021

Riley Smith pitched well in his first Major League start, Tim Locastro made history on the bases and Eduardo Escobar continued his red-hot hitting as the D-backs snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Reds, 8-3, on Saturday night at Chase Field.

The D-backs haven't had a lot to be excited about early on this season, but there were plenty of smiles for them on this night.

Here's a look at two of the big storylines:

1. Locastro's spikes headed to Hall of Fame
Speed is the name of the game for Locastro, who has been Major League Baseball's fastest player over the past two seasons per Statcast's sprint speed metric. Getting on base and wreaking havoc is the strength of Locastro's game.

And that's what he did Saturday, going 4-for-5 with a pair of infield hits, two runs scored and a historic stolen base.

The run that the D-backs scored in the sixth was just about all Locastro. He beat out an infield hit to short to open the frame, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly.

The stolen base was the 28th straight successful steal to open his big league career, which surpassed Hall of Famer Tim Raines for the most consecutive successful steals to open a career since 1951. (Prior to '51, caught stealings were not tracked by the National League.)

The D-backs pulled out the base at the end of the inning and had it authenticated, with it waiting for Locastro in his locker when he got back after the game. It will next find itself at his parents' house.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame asked for the spikes that Locastro wore to steal the base and the upstate New York native who spent many a day visiting said Hall of Fame was more than happy to send them.

"I actually paid to get them painted and I only wore them for two games," Locastro said smiling. "But I mean, it's all worth it. Obviously you always want to get into Cooperstown. That's what you dream about as a kid -- winning the World Series and getting into Cooperstown. So having my cleats there, that's unfathomable to me."

Raines was actually Locastro's first baserunning coach when he was coming up through the Blue Jays’ system.

"I would say I really looked up to him," Locastro said. "Because as a basestealer, you're trying to [learn] from one of the all-time legends. So being able to have him as one of my first coaches was really cool."

2. Speaking of cool, that's Smith on the mound
When he was younger, Smith's dad implored him to throw strikes and be aggressive. “Don't be afraid of the hitters,” he told him. “If you throw it over the plate they have to hit it -- the pressure is on them.”

Smith displayed that fearlessness on the mound last year when he made six appearances out of the bullpen for the D-backs and made an impression on the coaching staff and front office.

While Smith got a chance to pitch in the big leagues last year, his family did not get to watch him in person because of fans not being allowed in the stands.

On Saturday, Smith had a big contingent of family and friends as part of the 13,208 in attendance, where they got to watch him hold the potent Reds offense to two runs over six innings.

"I've always dreamed of pitching in the big leagues," Smith said. "But a part of that dream was for my family to be there when I pitched in the big leagues. And you know, for them to be able to come, not only was it a dream for them, it was a dream for me."

Smith spent time after the game greeting his friends and family, who lined up in the left-field stands to get a moment with him.

"It got emotional when I finished the game," Smith said. "Because you know, you're locked in throughout however long you're in the game, and then then you realize OK, ‘The stress is over, I can relax,’ and then I can take all this in. For them to be able to be there and enjoy it with me is awesome."