Rockies Shad Have Known Better Than to Play So Shallow
Rashad Crawford belted an inside-the-park two-run home run (opposite-field line-drive smoked over the left-fielder's head) to highlight a three-run third, and the bullpen tossed 7.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.
The home run was Crawford's second in Cactus League EXST game action (his first HR was hit over the RF fence on Field #5 at Riverview Park on April 21st), so Crawford has now tied Erick Castillo for the team-lead in HR with two (six others--Tyler Alamo, Jeffrey Baez, Zak Blair, Kevin Brown, Varonex Cuevas, and Rony Rodriguez--have one HR a piece). And the Cubs (as a team) have hit seven of their ten home runs in their last five games.
Five Cub "rehab" pitchers saw work in today's game (including four who threw in the intrasquad game last Saturday), so Rehab Pitching Coordinator Rick Tronerud and Rehab Athletic Trainer Chuck Baughman made the trip up to Salt River Fields from Riverview Park (they did not bring their golf cart, however).
* Cubs 2012 4th round draft pick RHP Josh Conway (2012 pre-draft TJS & May 2013 elbow stress fracture) got the start and breezed through the bottom of the 1st inning (allowing just a two-out single) before surrendering a run on two hits (including an RBI triple) and a walk in the bottom of the 2nd. The 23-year old needed 37 pitches to get four outs.
* Veteran NPB & MLB RH reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (May 2013 TJS) retired all three men he faced (K-swinging, F-8, 3-1), although he was continually shaking and stretching his arm during the outing.
* 20-year old 2012 3rd round draft pick 6'3 RHP Ryan McNeil (May 2013 TJS) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance since April 15, 2013, and retired all five hitters he faced (F-8, 6-3, L-8, P-1, 3-U) on just 13 pitches (10 strikes), He looked very good in a two-inning stint in last Saturday's intrasquad game, too. For those of you who haven't seen McNeil this year, he is sporting the popular Jeff Samardzija look (they could be brothers).
* 24-year old 6'5 240+ LHP Michael Heesch (Cubs 2012 8th round draft pick) had another fine outing (he's been throwing in Cactus League EXST games for about the last ten days, so he should be about ready to move up to the KC or Daytona bullpen), allowing a two-out single while striking out two (both swinging) and doing it all on just 11 pitches (10 for strikes), and lots of grunts.
* 18-year old RHP Jesus Castillo (the other pitcher acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with RHP Erick Leal in exchange for OF Tony Campana in February 2013) made his U. S. game debut and punched-out two in his one innng of work. Unlike Leal (a "curve-ball first" pitcher who uses his 88 MPH fastball to set-up his excellent breaking ball), Castillo has a "lively" fastball that rides 92-93 MPH and a decent change-up (especially for such a young guy) but no breaking ball. And, just like C. J. Edwards, Jose Paulino, and Hector Perez, Castillo is an all-legs "stringbean" (6'2 165). Castillo probably has a higher ceiling than fellow-Venezuelan Leal, but he is also clearly not anywhere near as polished, and so he will very likely be assigned to the AZL Cubs next month, while Leal will almost certainly be in the Boise starting rotation.
With today's victory, the Cubs have won three in a row and are closing-in on the .500 mark (they are now 19-21-4 in 2014 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games).
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1. Rashad Crawford, DH: 2-5 (F-7, HR, 4-3, 1B, 3-U, R, 2 RBI)
2. Elliot Soto, 2B: 2-4 (1B, 1B, 3-U, K, R, SB)
3. Jeffrey Baez, CF: 1-4 (L-3 DP, 1B+E7, K, K, RBI)
4. Kevin Brown, 1B: 0-4 (3-U, F-9, K, F-7)
5. Shamil Ubiera, RF: 0-4 (F-9, 5-3, E-5, P-2)
6. Gleyber Torres, SS: 0-3 (K, BB, 6-3, F-8)
7. Mark Malave, C: 1-4 (K, FC, 6-3, 1B)
8. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 2-4 (1B, 5-4-3 DP, 4-3, 1B, R)
9. Charcer Burks, LF: 0-4 (P-3, 2-3, E-6, F-8)
1. Josh Conway: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 37 pitches (22 strikes)
2. Kyuji Fujikawa: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (7 strikes)
3. Ryan McNeil: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/3 GO/FO, 13 pitches (10 strikes)
4. Michael Heesch: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 11 pitches (10 strikes)
5. Jesus Castillo: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GO/FO, 17 pitches (10 strikes)
6. Hector Perez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/3 GO/FO, 34 pitches (20 strikes)
7. Alberto Diaz: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 3/0 GO/FO, 17 pitches (10 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
WEATHER: Sunny & breezy with temperatures in the 80's
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.