Hoff-POWER Twice Just Good Enough for Tie
Micah Hoffpauir slugged two home runs to help rally the Cubs from an 8-4 deficit, but then grounded out with the winning run on third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, leaving the Cubs and Brewers tied at 10 in what was the final Spring Training game for the Cubs in Arizona.
Knowing they will be facing each other next week in Chicago, both the Cubs and Brewers opted to use mostly a gaggle of minor league pitchers today (Ted Lilly probably threw in a minor league game versus the Giants AAA squad at Fitch Park), with the exception of LHP Sean Marshall and RHP Tim Lahey, both being "on the bubble" as far as gaining a spot on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster is concerned. And neither pitcher did much to help his cause this afternoon,
Marshall gave up one run on an RBI double, plus three walks and a wild pitch and no strikeouts in two innings of work, while Lahey went one inning-plus, throwing a 1-2-3 6th (3-1, 4-3, 1-3) before allowing a run on a walk and a single without retiring a batter in the 7th.
The Cubs scored first, plating a run in the bottom of the 1st on a two-out RBI single hammered to RF by Kosuke Fukudome, following a bloop single to right by Alfonso Soriano and a walk to Aramis Ramirez.
But the Brewers came back with a six-spot in the top of the 2nd off veteran RHP Cory Bailey (ex-BOS, ex-STL, ex-SF, ex-KC, ex-Tokyo Giants), on a walk, two singles, a double, a triple by Rickie Weeks, and a home run by Mike Cameron.
The Cubs got a bit closer in the bottom of the second, as Alfonso Soriano hit a towering two-out three-run HR completely out of the stadium in left-field, following a single by Mark DeRosa and a walk to Henry Blanco.
With the Cubs trailing 8-4, Hoffpauir (who had entered the game in relief of Fukudome in RF in the 5th) hit his first home run of the game leading off the bottom of the sixth, a high-ranging moonshot over the right-field fence off the canvas bullpen cover. Ronny Cedeno then clubbed a two-out solo home run off the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence to cut the Brew Crew lead to 8-6.
The Brewers scored a run in the top of the 7th off Lahey to go on top 9-6, but soon to be ex-Cub Matt Murton led off the bottom of the 7th with a double into the left-center field alley, and scored on a one-out double lined into the left-field corner by Aramis Ramirez. Hoffpauir then hit his second home run in two innings (and 4th this Spring Training) into the upper (visitors) bullpen beyond the RF fence, tying the score at 9.
Felix Pie made a possible game-saving catch in the top of the 9th with one out and a runner at second, sliding effortlessly between Mike Fontenot and Reed Johnson to nab a blooper and hold the potential lead-run at second.
The Brewers did take a 10-9 lead in top of the 10th off Cubs LHP Edward Campusano (walk, stolen base plus throwing error, and wild pitch), before the Cubs mounted their last-ditch rally in the bottom of the 10th.
With one out, Andres Blanco fisted an opposite field single down the left-field line. Reed Johnson then roped a single back through the box sending A. Blanco to 2nd. Murton flied out to deep center for the second out, but then Felix Pie and Casey McGehee worked two-out walks to force in the tying run and set the stage for Micah Hoffpauir to be the hero again.
But the Hoff-POWER mojo was gone, as the slugging Texan grounded weakly into a 4-6 FC to end the game with the score tied 10-10,
As we speak, the Cubs are probably at Sky Harbor Airport, preparing to embark on their annual End of Spring Training weekend trip to Las Vegas, where they will face the Seattle Mariners in their final two Spring Training games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon at cozy Cashman Field.
Then it's Opening Day 2008 at Wrigley Field Monday afternoon versus the Milwaukee Brewers.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.