Almora & Vitters Lead Cubs to Victory over A's
Albert Almora laced an opposite-field RBI triple into the RF corner and then scored one out later on a sacrifice fly, Josh Vitters roped an RBI double, and Jose Rosario threw four innings of one-hit ball, helping the Cubs edge the Athletics 4-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ.
Almora (the Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick) saw his first game action in more than six weeks, since having hand surgery on March 16th (he broke his hamate bone at Minor League Camp on March 14th). He was a DH and hit five times in today's game, once in each of the first five innings. He lined out to CF in his first AB, then bounced out to third, reached base on an E-5 (another bouncer that the A's third-baseman tried to cut-off in front of the shortstop), ripped his RBI triple (and then he tore his pants and got a pretty good "raspberry" on his left thigh sliding home on the sac fly), and (in his last AB) grounded out to short.
Josh Conway got the start for the Cubs and went five strong innings (80 pitches), allowing two runs on four hits (all four singles) and two walks, while striking out six (five swinging). He retired nine of the first ten men he faced and then four of the last five, but in between he gave up two runs on four hits in the top of the 4th. The way he is being stretched out makes it look like the Cubs might be thinking about moving him up to Kane County or Daytona in the near future.
Jose Rosario followed Conway to the mound and threw four innings of one-hit ball (although he did walk three). He surrendered a lead-off triple in the top of the 9th, but looked like he would get out of the inning and leave the runner stranded at 3rd after retiring the next two hitters. However, a two-out fielding error by 1st baseman Mark Malave allowed the runner at 3rd to score. Rosario looks like he might be about ready to move up to either Kane County or Daytona, too.
The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair, and the A's did score two runs off Ethan Elias to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the 10th. However, the game was called in the middle of the 10th because the A's ran out of available pitchers, and so the score reverted to what it was at the end of the 9th inning, and therefore the Cubs won 4-3.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
X. Albert Almora, DH #1: 1-5 (L-8, 5-3, E-5, 3B, 6-3, R, RBI)
NOTE: Almora batted five times, hitting 2nd in each of the first five innings
1a. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 0-1 (K, F-8 SF, RBI)
1b. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 1-1 (1B, F-7 SF, RBI)
2a. David Bote, 2B: 0-2 (L-9, 1-3)
2b. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-1 (1B, BB, CS)
3. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-3 (E-6, 1B, F-8, R)
4. Josh Vitters, 3B-DH: 2-3 (5-3, 2B, 1B, RBI)
5. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, K)
6a. Jose Dore, 1B: 0-2 (L-4, 4-3)
6b. Wilfredo Petit, C: 0-1 (K)
7a. Xavier Batista, LF: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Mark Malave, 1B: 0-1 (4-6 FC)
8a. Lance Rymel, C: 0-2 (6-4-3 DP, 4-3)
8b. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 0-0 (BB, R)
9. Kevin Encarnacion, DH #2: 0-1 (BB, K, BB, R)
10a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES THRU BATTING ORDER
10b. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-1 (L-4)
1. Josh Conway: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 80 pitches (50 strikes), 4/4 GO/FO
2. Jose Rosario: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 59 pitches (33 strikes), 4/6 GO/FO
3. Ethan Elias: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 19 pitches (14 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. 1B Mark Malave - E-3 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely & unearned run to score)
2. C Wilfredo Petit - E-2 (overthrow at 2nd base on SB attempt allowed baserunner to advance to 3rd)
1. Lance Rymel: 1-3 CS
2. Wilfredo Petit: 0-1 CS , 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?