Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez each had three hits and two RBI, leading the Cubs to an 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Tempe's Diablo Stadium today.
I wasn't at the game, so you'll have to check with those who heard the game on the radio or who saw it for the exact particulars.
I do know that Jason Marquis was the starting pitcher for the Cubs, and he went 4.1 IP, giving up seven hits, four runs (all earned), two walks, and two HR, plus two K. Just like in his last start, Marquis apparently pitched fairly well, but was victimized by the Gopher Ball. Three of the runs he allowed scored as the result of home runs (a solo HR by Vladimir Guerrero with two outs in the 1st, and a two-run shot by Garrett Anderson in the 4th). But Marquis did finish with an 8/3 GB/FB, so apparently his sinker was working most of the time.
I was at the minor camp at Fitch Park today, and watched the AAA and AA games. There were no players from the big league camp there today, and there was also no sign of the four who got sent down by the Cubs earlier today (Felix Pie, Les Walrond, Tomas Perez, and Koyie Hill). However, I would expect them to be with the Iowa club by tomorrow.
In today's AAA game at Fitch Field #3, the Iowa Cubs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Sacramento River Cats (OAK). LHP B. J. Mathes (who was a rotation starter at AA West Tenn last year) got the start for Iowa, and retired the first nine batters he faced and looked very good in the process. However, he ran into all kinds of trouble in the 4th, and was removed with only one out in the 5th (4.1 IP) after allowing four hits, three runs (earned), and one walk, with three K. Cory Bailey, Bobby Brownlie, and Hector Almonte finished up, and Almonte (a refugee from the Mexican League) was actually somewhat awful (2.0 IP, two H, two runs, two walks, and a HR). Bobby Brownlie looked OK, though (1.2 IP, one hit, a K, 3/1 GB/FB).
On offense, Iowa got a solo HR and a double from 3B Scott Moore (and he was also thrown out at the plate on a line single to the outfield by Mike Fontenot), a single and a double (and run scored) from 1B Micah Hoffpauir (with his stroke and power and hustling attitude, if they can get him some PT in LF at Iowa this season, I can envision Hoffpauir as a future MLB-caliber 1B-LF-LHPH bench guy), and a double from 2B Eric Patterson (who also bobbled one ball at second-base, but it was ruled a hit). Casey McGehee was the starting catcher, and he handled himself pretty well behind the plate for a guy who is learning the nuances of a new position, although the River Cats were two-for-two against him in SB attempts.
With Pie, T. Perez, and K. Hill expected to arrive at the minor league camp (probably) tomorrow, erstwhile Iowa Cubs like outfielders Josh Kroeger (ex-AZ OF who has had a nice ST) and Val Pascucci (ex-MON and Japanese league RF who hasn't), IF-OF Gary Cates (the #1 utility guy at AA West Tenn last year), and catcher Tony Richie (the back-up catcher at AA West Tenn last year) are probably "on the bubble," with their best hope an assignment to AA, although a release is also a possibility. It's also possible that Mike Fontenot will get traded sometime prior to Opening Day, maybe to another organization's AAA club where he can play 2B every day (Eric Patterson has sewn-up that gig at Iowa), although Fontenot did play SS today, and I guess he possibly could remain with the Iowa Cubs if he can beat-out Carlos Rojas for the starting SS job or Tomas Perez for the infield utility job. The problem is, he's not exactly built to play SS, and he isn't really versatile or athletic enough to play multiple positions, either. He's basically a second-baseman. Period.
In the AA game on Fitch Park Field #2, the Tennessee Smokies beat the Midland RockHounds 9-2. RHP Justin Berg (the guy the Cubs got from NYY for Matt Lawton a couple of years ago, and a rotation starter at Daytona last year) pitched VERY well, struggling a little bit in the first inning, but then settling down and dealing the rest of the way. For the day, Berg went 5.0 IP, allowing only three hits, one run (earned), a walk, and four K. He also got a ton of ground balls in his last three innings, as the Cubs (as an organization) seem to be encouraging pitchers to "pound the strike zone" with two-seamers. LHP Jerry Blevins worked two innings (no runs, three hits, a couple of Ks), as did RHP John Webb (one run, two doubles, a walk, and a WP).
The Smokies were really cookin' at bat today, putting up a "six spot" in the bottom of the first, capped by a bases-loaded RBI triple by SS Joe Simokaitis. Other Smokies who had days of note at the plate include catcher Jake Fox (RBI double), RF Matt Ciaramella (three singles and an RBI), 1B Brian Dopirak (RBI single), DH Issmael Salas (RBI single), and rookie CF Edgar Herrera (signed out of the Dominican Republic just last August), who had a single and two RBI--and constantly missed the cut-off man or threw to the wrong base--while spending the day with the AA team.
For anyone planning to attend the Cubs minor league ST games tomorrow, the AAA/AA road games at the Angels Diablo Complex and the A+/A home games at Fitch Park will start an hour earlier than usual (high noon). And Manny Trillo might want to get himself a plane ticket to Mesa, because Carlos Zambrano will be pitching in a minor league ST game at Fitch Park versus either the Giants' AAA team (Fresno Grizzlies) or AA team (Connnecticut Defenders
on Wednesday (so that Mark Prior can start the Cubs MLB ST game versus COL at HoHoKam).
The Chicago Cubs return to HoHoKam Park tomorrow, where they will face the Kansas City Royals (who will be making their one and only visit to Mesa this year). Rich Hill is supposed to be the starter for the Cubs. FWIW, Hill has yet to allow a walk this ST in 10.0 IP.