Cubs Eat A's for Breakfast
Mark Pawelek threw three shutout innings, and the EXST Cubs strung together four consecutive two-out RBI hits in the top of the 7th inning, en route to a 4-1 victory over the EXST A's in a "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Pawelek, the Cubs #1 draft pick in 2005, has now thrown six consecutive scoreless innings after returning from a sprained ankle suffered the first week of EXST, and if he can continue to throw the ball like he did today, he could well find himself in Peoria by this time next month. This is a Mark Pawelek the Cubs haven't seen since 2005.
Despite Pawelek's three shutout innings, the EXST Cubs trailed the A's 1-0 after six, as the A's scored a run off Cubs LHP Arik Hempy on a double, wild pitch, and a sac fly in the bottom of the 4th.
But then the Cubs went to work.
Gian Guzman led-off the top of the 7th with a line single to left. After Luis Bautista flied out, Guzman stole second (BTW, Cubs Roving Baserunning and Outfield Instructor Bobby Dernier is at EXST this week), and advanced to third on an overthrow.
Bryan Jost struck out, but then Dwayne Kemp (double down the LF line), John Contreras (double off the left-centerfield fence), Alvaro Sosa (line double to right-center), and Kevin Soto (line single to left) plated four runs, giving the Cubs a lead they never relinquished.
RHPs Yohan Gonzalez and Miguel Sierra each threw two shutout innings to finish off the A's, as Sierra returned to the mound after missing three weeks as a result of being struck on the right (pitching) elbow with a line drive in a game last month.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
NOTE: When he wasn't warming up pitchers in the bullpen, Roberto Sabates hit in two different spots in the batting order.
1. Kevin Soto, RF: 2-4 (RBI, 2 K)
2. Nelson Perez, LF: 1-4 (K)
3. Brandon Guyer, DH #1: 0-4 (K)
4. Drew Rundle, CF: 1-4 (3B, K)
5. Gian Guzman, SS: 2-4 (R, SB, K)
6. Luis Bautista, C-1B: 1-4
7a. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2 (BB, K)
7b. Roberto Sabates, PH-C: 0-1
8a. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-3 (2B, RBI, R, GIDP)
8b. Starlin Castro, 2B: 0-1
9a. NONE - SKIPPED
9b. Roberto Sabates, DH #2: 0-1
10. John Contreras, 3B: 1-3 (2B, RBI, R)
11. Alvaro Sosa, DH #3: 2-2 (2 2B, RBI, R, BB)
1. Mark Pawelek - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 PO (4/0 GO/FO)
2. Arik Hempy - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP (3/2 GO/FO)
3. Yohan Gonzalez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1/4 GO/FO)
4. Miguel Sierra - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (2/1 GO/FO)
ERRORS (3): Kemp (E-4 bobble), Bautista (E-2 overthrow at 2B on SB attempt), and Jost (E-3 dropped pop-up in foul territory).
Bautista: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Hot and sunny
HISTORY NOTE: Most of the EXST Cubs and A's players probably aren't aware of it, but the Papago Sports Complex was once part of a large WWII POW camp (Security Unit #84) that featured a mass escape of German prisoners (mainly U-boat officers) in December 1944.
While Papago Park no longer has gun turrets and barbed-wire fences (at least none that are visible), it's still out in the middle of nowhere, and you can readily see the caves high up in the neighboring buttes where some of the escapees who didn't try to make it to Mexico hid-out while on the lam.
And If the POW camp was still there today, you can figure the Cubs would probably sign some 6'4 volleyball player from Dusseldorf who never saw a baseball game in his life, and make him a pitcher.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.