Cubs Ward-Off Rangers with Walk-Off Salami

Just like old times. A Cubs Spring Training game at HoHoKam Park. Sammy Sosa in the outfield. Heck, even Wayne Messmer and his wife Kathy are at the game, singing "God Bless America" before the game and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the middle of the seventh inning. Best of all... Cubs Win!! Cubs Win!!! Cubs Win!! Yes, Daryle Ward clubbed a one-out grand slam HR in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 11-7 victory over the Texas Rangers in front of 11,674 fans at cloudy and breezy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. Ward, who has now gone 5-10 with 10 RBI in his last three ST games, had earlier given the Cubs a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the 7th, with a two-out line-drive RBI single. box score Jason Marquis (CUBS) and Jamey Wright (TEX) were today's starting pitchers, and the Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st on a one-out opposite-field double ripped down the RF line by Ryan Theriot, followed by a line-drive RBI single to CF by Derrek Lee. But the Rangers came back in the top of the second, scoring three runs on back-to-back-home runs by Gerald Laird (two-run blast) and Ramon Vazquez (solo). But the Cubs scored three runs of their own in the bottom of the second, as Ronny Cedeno, Henry Blanco (a beautiful hit+run single bounced right to the spot where the shortstop had just vacated to cover second base), and Jason Marquis (grounder through the box into CF) hit consecutive singles to lead-off the inning. Derrek Lee then smoked a two-out double into left-field to score Blanco and Marquis, giving the Cubs back the lead. Marquis pitched OK through the next 2.2 IP, allowing no runs on two hits and a walk, before surrendering a hard-hit double to Hank Blalock and another monster HR to Gerald Laird (he obviously had Marquis' number today!) with two outs in the 5th. In what was probably his worst outing of the Spring, Marquis went five innings (75 pitches, 7/4 GB/FB), giving up nine hits, five runs (earned), three walks, and three HR, with four strikeouts (Wright, Teixeira, Laird, and Vazquez) and one GIDP. But up through 4.2 IP, I thought it was an OK outing for Marquis. It's the three HR that are the most troubling, because Marquis has had a good sinker working for him all Spring. Rocky Cherry entered the game in the 6th and labored, throwing 20+ pitches and giving up a run on two walks, a single, and a sac fly, as the Rangers took a 6-4 lead. Cherry had one K. Roberto Novoa came into the game for the Cubs to start the 7th, and he could not throw strikes. Everything was high+outside. Novoa threw 15 pitches, 12 of which were balls, as he loaded the bases on walks with nobody out. But then Scott Eyre was brought in, and he was perfect, as he stranded all three runners thanks to a 5-2 ground-ball force-out at home and two strikeouts, ending the inning with no runs scored. The Cubs came alive in the bottom of the 7th against Rangers reliever Rick Bauer, as Cliff Floyd led-off with a single and Jacque Jones smashed a HR over the upper bullpen in RF. After Mark DeRosa singled and was thrown-out trying to steal, Ronny Cedeno walked and Koyie Hill singled, before Daryle Ward came through with the big two-out line-drive RBI single to right give the Cubs the lead, as Ronny Cedeno just barely beat the throw home with a masterful slide past the catcher's sweeping tag attempt. Les Walrond pitched a scoreless 8th and had filthy stuff, surrendering two broken-bat singles to go with two strikeouts (Mark Teixeira and Guillermo Quiroz), but Michael Wuertz could not hold the lead and get the save in the 9th. After retiring the first two batters easily, Wuertz gave up a single to Matt Kata, a walk to PH Desi Relaford, and an RBI single to Ian Kinsler, to tie the score (Relaford was thrown out trying to score after the Cubs got Kinsler in a run-down, as the throw to the plate to try and nab Kata was cut-off). The Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th off Texas AA RHP Jesse Ingram (recalled from the Rangers minor league camp for today's game) on a lead-off single by Tomas Perez, a sac bunt by Ronny Cedeno that turned into a FC and E5 when Rangers third-baseman Drew Meyer fired the ball into CF trying to nab Perez at 2nd (allowing Perez to advance to 3rd), and an intentional walk to Koyie Hill. After Felix Pie popped out, Rangers manager Ron Washington ordered CF Matt Kata to the infield to give the Rangers five infelders (and a hoped for DP with the slow-footed Ward running), but it wouldn't have mattered if there were seven infielders, as DW creamed a 2-2 pitch over the right-centerfield fence to give the Cubs their victory, and send the Cubs fans at HoHoKam home in a state of pure ecstasy. In Sammy Sosa's first return to HoHoKam Park in three years, he went 1-3 with a FC ground out to 3rd in the 1st inning, an infield single (swinging bunt) in the 3rd, and a ground out to short (spectacular play by Cedeno, as the ball took a crazy hop off the lip of the infield grass and Cedeno somehow managed to grab it out of thin air!) in the 5th. The fan reaction each time Sammy came to bat was mixed, with a lot of loud cheers and also lots of loud boos, but Sosa showed absolutely no reaction. Strictly Mr. Professional. The Cubs travel to Peoria tomorrow to play the San Diego Padres, and Mark Prior(?) is supposed to get the start. (We'll have to see about that!).
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Comments

With writing this good, Phil, someone's gonna snap you up. Make sure you're training your replacement to be as good at these game recaps. For some of us without video and audio (THREE DAYS NOW) its all we've got...

Agreed, Dave and thanks Phil. A question: how is the patience of Cubs hitters so far in Spring Training? One of my frustrations last year was that it seemed our pitcher had always reached a high pitch count early while Cubs hitters were allowing mediocre guys on the opposing team to get well into the game with lower pitch counts. Maybe it's just me. Do you see a more thoughtful approach at the plate so far this year?

Thanks, Phil.

Just read the last post comments and it looks like cubster's been looking into this as well. Thanks cubster.

OJulius: I also would like to see AZ Phil give his thoughts on the Cubs patience at the plate this spring. In the previous thread (about Sammy) post #204, 212 &215 I looked up some stats regarding walk rate. In spring training 2005 and the regular season 2005, that Cub team had a walk rate of 6.9%. This spring the Cubs walk rate is 9.6% (the range this spring is Boston at 11.4% and Baltimore at 5.5%). Pitches per at bat also would be a nice stat to see but I expect that to be better this year compared to prior recent Cub teams. I think this is a very good sign for the offense/run production and probably represents addition of more patient hitters to the lineup but probably reflects significant coaching impact since all the coaches (except the pitching coach) are new.

From Cubs.com:
"Kerry Wood, sidelined since March 11 with a strained right triceps muscle, had been originally scheduled to pitch as well on Thursday, but he's now been switched to Friday, when the Cubs will play host to the Giants."

Shocker, I know. The Cubs did say the reason they are doing that is they don't think they will need 3 pitchers tomorrow, as Prior is going to start and go 3-4 innings and Hill is going to get stretched out to go 4-5 innings. I clearly have my doubts that Prior will go 4 innings, of course, but time will tell.

MLB.com does give spring training stats for number of pitches (NP) for all teams but I'm not sure of the accuracy. They also give team total plate appearances (TPA).

Here is the data on NP/TPA for Spring 07:

Boston NP 1560/TPA 832; Ratio Pitches per TPA 1.87

Cubs NP 1494/TPA 907; Ratio 1.65

Orioles NP 1131/TPA 763; Ratio 1.48

Something is probably off in these stats though (it must be spring training for the stat collectors too). I'd expect a team pitch per AB ratio to be closer to 2-3 though. I know league leaders like Giambi have had ratios of 4.5 pitches per plate appearance. I'm sure one of our stat guru's can address this.

Why are the Cubs wasting innings on Prior and Wood when the season is now just a week and a half away? They're DL bound anyways, give those innings to pitchers that will be in Chicago in April.

Yeah, Eric!

Write Lou NOW!

Lou still has it in the back of his mind that either Prior or Wood will be ready. If not by the season opener then sometime soon in April.

From Rotoworld:

Gerald Laird hit a pair of two-run homers off the Cubs' Jason Marquis on Wednesday.

Not bad, but we're still waiting to see what he can do against a major league pitcher....i>

Ouch, that's cold.

From Rotoworld:

Gerald Laird hit a pair of two-run homers off the Cubs' Jason Marquis on Wednesday.

Not bad, but we're still waiting to see what he can do against a major league pitcher....

Ouch, that's cold.

So - you are saying he has finally been bitten by the Cubs "WHAT IF?" injured former stud pitcher obsession?

SI.com is about to bring upon themselves the full wrath of this site (okay just me)...

You can go to si.com/cubsvote and vote for your favorites Cubs blog. Your choices are BCB, View from the Bleachers, Cub Town and Desipio. Yeah, no TCR....WTF?

And it's not like they passed up MVN sites, plenty of them are up there for other teams.

We're the 17th highest rated site at striketwo.net
http://striketwo.net/blogs/

and 2nd Cubbies site (we were first briefly last week)...

Ugh...

CubTown made the list?? Yeah, you should be pissed.

Just saw the end of a Pedro Gomez piece on Prior and Pedro was wondering if the Cubs should "throw the towel in "on Prior.

Wah-wahhh.

Any way tomorrow will be make or break for Prior for the first half of the season. He will not make it out of ST, and if one of the starters go down it will be Guzman's gig first.

I believe at some point this year they will shelve him with some sort of arm surgery.

they're all fine sites, don't get me wrong....but come on.

Should be BCB, TCR, Grota and Cub Town imo if you really have to go top 4.

Agreed, jacos. I'll be interested to see him pitch tomorrow. I concur with Suttcliffe, Stoney, Steve Phillips, and everybody else who said it looks like he's pitching thru some pain. I brought that up last week.

I have a hunch that I'll be seeing the same thing again tomorrow.

I will give SI a call.

Bad day for pitchers today.

Weaver, Penny and Garcia all hurt...OUCH. Thankfully none of them are in my fantasy team.

Flame me if you like, but BCB may have good articles and what not, but the posters there SUCK. They can't understand why the Yankees wouldn't take Juan Mateo and Ryan Theriot for ARod. OK exaggeration but the posters there are terrible. While I dissagree with everybody all the time here, the level of Cub, ney, baseball knowledge here dwarfs that of BCB.

And I don't like Liberal Al's politics.

Which Weaver?

I suppose that's a fair estimation of BCB, Chad. I think Al's a great writer. Good baseball mind, too.

But the poster thing is spot on. Makes me want to bang my head on the desk occasionally. Actually not that much of an exaggeration. Somebody yesterday suggested that Jones should hit in the two hole and Soriano should hit sixth.

I like Al's politics. While most stuff slants negatively here, at BCB its Cub Love, all the time. But at least Al goes to EVERY game in-person CHAD, and has history cred. on his side.

But there is NO SUBSTITUTE for the incomparable AZ PHIL, aka Keyser Soze!

ROB G: Your site probably would have ranked higher if it wasn't down all the time with server problems - however I must say that over the last 30 days things have been pretty smooth - thanks are in order for recent packet happieness.

Sullivan article in the tribune:

http://tinyurl.com/yv4wkc

Ronny Cedeno probably getting the 25th roster spot.

also I'm not sure I saw this before (and it was expected at some point) but Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol optioned to Iowa before Wednesday game.

Tribune article now online (Paul Sullivan) says Ronnie Cedeno getting the 25th roster spot.

Also, not sure if I saw this before (but it was expected) that they sent Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol to Iowa (before Wed game)

Which Weaver?
--------------
from the Angels.com site

Jered Weaver will open the season on the 15-day disabled list. (due to biceps tendonitis)

Jered's been hurt all spring, they just made it official then. Penny and Garcia are new thought although Penny said he would have made his start if it was the regular season.

Your site probably would have ranked higher if it wasn’t down all the time with server problems - however I must say that over the last 30 days things have been pretty smooth - thanks are in order for recent packet happieness.

Woe, E-man with the bitter cheap shot....when's the last time the site's been down? Seems pretty fluid since February with some minor hiccups.

Can't help but think of Buck Martinez' theory about pitchers not pitching enough innings in the minors before they get to the majors in regards to Weaver (and Prior).

I really don't like having Floyd and Ward on the roster. I watched a little of the Pirates vs. Red Sox today-Eric Hinske is with the Bosox. He would be the perfect lefthanded stick off our bench. He could play 3rd, 1st, Left or Right...

I bet we could trade Jones for Lieber if we wanted to...

"But at least Al goes to EVERY game in-person CHAD,"

Well if that what it takes to be a baseball authoritarian, I say, Ronnie Woo Woo for commissioner!

And so what if he goes to every game. In fact, I think that is not the best way to truly analyze the game. Watching on tv with tivo and and internet connection is far better. Not only can you watch slow motion replays but you can get real time stats matchup data.

"I like Al’s politics. While most stuff slants negatively here, at BCB its Cub Love, all the time. But at least Al goes to EVERY game in-person CHAD, and has history cred. on his side."

Al's politics are horrible. He's just a blog-nazi, I swear. If you dare to disagree with his almighty opinions, you might get called a "dumbass" or a "bad baseball fan." I don't give a shit if it's all baseball, all the time, but his site is a media-friendly plug for all things light. At least we don't dislike analysis and opinion here at TCR -- we sure as hell don't shut up readers when they express their opinions. If that were the case, Silent Towel, Arizona Phil, E-man and myself would've been banned a long, long time ago.

I remember this time when Al called a fan's analysis of ol' Jason Grimsley's affidavit (using top notch pixel work) a "dumbass argument" and quickly edited it before the whole world got to see it. And then there's the "PLEASE CLICK ME" post about C.J. Wilson's Myspace.

Al might be a good baseball fan, a nice writer, but his blog-running methods and his getting-along-with-people quality are very, very, very, very bad.

O. Julius — March 21, 2007 @ 7:22 pm
Agreed, Dave and thanks Phil. A question: how is the patience of Cubs hitters so far in Spring Training? One of my frustrations last year was that it seemed our pitcher had always reached a high pitch count early while Cubs hitters were allowing mediocre guys on the opposing team to get well into the game with lower pitch counts. Maybe it’s just me. Do you see a more thoughtful approach at the plate so far this year?

==============================

JULIUS: The Cubs are (so far) a diffferent team this year when it comes to patience at the plate. They have four players among the top 25 in MLB (ST) in walks (DeRosa, Cedeno, Izturis, and Murton), and both Theriot and Lee frequently will go deep into counts. Most of the team seems comfortable hitting with two strikes (which is the key to going deep into counts).

I don't know if they'll keep it up once the season starts, though, but so far, so good.

Phil, I think Gerald Perry deserves all the credit for the patience of the Cubs hitters, word is getting around he's damn-near a miracle worker.

"If that were the case, Silent Towel, Arizona Phil, E-man and myself would’ve been banned a long, long time ago."

Actually if were talking top 4, I would go with Mannytrillo, Chad, MikeC, and Silent Towel.

ROB G: You know, I agree that indeed for the most part it has been smooth sailing with the MVN server for a while. I stated as much. But the transition was really rough. You'll have to agree there. Also, I am not convinced yet how much of an upgrade the new site is, still.

In my opinion, I feel sometimes simpler is better in technology.

Rob G.:
"Which Weaver?"

Sorry Rob, Jared...

10man:
"Actually if were talking top 4, I would go with Mannytrillo, Chad, MikeC, and Silent Towel."

Woo Hoo, I'm #1. Thanks 10man!!

This is an outstanding site. I apologize for being bombastic at times, but at least unvarnished opinion is allowed. And I think people are pretty good not getting into personal attacks, with the exception of harmless jabs like bubblegum card readers, etc.

Ouch.

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