Cubs Lay Gooz Egg
Matt Brown crushed a bases-loaded double to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 6-4 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon, in a game many of you probably watched on WGN-TV.
Aaron Heilman got the start for the Cubs, and was hit hard, allowing five hits, including two singles, two doubles, and a triple (and a walk plus a strikeout), in just two innings of work (26 pitches - 19 strikes, 0/4 GO/FO). But thanks to a timely Paul Bako pick-off of Chone Figgins at 2nd base in the top of the 1st, Heilman allowed just one run, produced by a two-out RBI single sliced to LF by Joe Saunders (who as an American League pitcher, almost never hits in a game) in the top of the 2nd inning.
Carlos Marmol returned to action with the Cubs after his meltdown versus Team Netherlands in the WBC earlier in the week, and he had a bit of a rough and tumble outing in the top of the 3rd (24 pitches - only 13 strikes), allowing a lead-off triple to Maicer Izturis (a hit that would probably have been just a double if Milton Bradley could have somehow bent his 75-year old body over far enough to cut the ball off in the gap) and hitting two batters to load the bases with one out, before rallying himself to strike out the final two hitters of the inning (Terry Evans and Peter Bourjos) to leave the bases drunk and the Angels (once more) frustrated.
Meanwhile the Cubs weren't doing much offensively, although Bradley did lead-off the bottom of the 2nd with a ringing double to the fence that he (for some misguided reason) decided to try and stretch into a triple (ignoring 3rd base coach Mike Quade's stop sign), but got thrown out instead. Apparently MB is not familiar with the old baseball axiom, that you never make the first or last out of an inning at 3rd base. This could be a very long year...
Kevin Gregg worked an 11-pitch 4th inning, and had an easy 1-2-3 inning (two fly outs after striking out pitcher Joe Saunders), David Patton worked a 1-2-3 nine-pitch 5th (two pop ups and a GO), and Randy Wells struck out the side (Matt Brown, Terry Evans, and Peter Boujos - all looking) in the top of the 6th (as the Cubs bullpen retired 11 batters in a row at one point mid-game).
Down 1-0, the Cubs mounted a four-run rally in the bottom of the 6th against Angels reliever Matt Palmer. Bobby Scales walked to lead-off the inning, and then Alfonso Soriano ripped a double down the LF line to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Andres Blanco sliced an RBI single to left to score Scales and send Soriano to 3rd, and then Derrek Lee roped a line-drive single to center to score Soriano and send Blanco to 3rd. Milton Bradley reached base on an E-5 RBI bobble, and after Aramis Ramirez flied out to left, Reed Johnson lined a single to LF to re-load the bases. THen PH Micah Hoffpauir plated the final run of the inning on an RBI ground out dribbler to 1st.
Protecting a 4-1 Cub lead, Angel Guzman entered the game in the top of the 7th, and had a dreadful 30-pitch inning,.He loaded the bases on a single and two walks with one out in the inning, but then got a big bases-loaded strikeout (Adam Pakovich) that gave him a chance to get out of the inning unscathed. But Gooz apparently had spent his stuff to get the clutch punch-out, as Matt Trumbo lined an RBI single and Matt Brown crushed a three-run two-out double to give the Angels a 5-4 lead.
Esmailin Cardidad worked the 8th, striking out two, but also allowing an unearned run on a double and an infield single + E-6 throwing error by Andres Blanco, before stranding a runner in scoring position to end the inning.
Neal Cotts worked a quick eight-pitch 9th, allowing a lead-off single before closing the inning out with a pop up and a nifty 3-6-1 DP.
But the Cubs could not produce any more offense after the four-run 6th, and the Angels left the park with a 6-4 victory.
It appears that with Heilman's mediocre two-inning outing today, Sean Marshall has solidified his tenatative spot in the starting rotation.
And Angel Guzman certainly didn't do himself any favors this afternoon, laboring through an interminable inning where he could not hold a three-run lead, while landing off-balance with almost every delivery. I know the Cubs don't want to lose Guzman (he is out of minor league options), but he has been clearly outpitched (so far) by Jose Ascanio, Randy Wells, David Patton, and Esmailin Caridad (among others). Gooz will have to step it up the last three weeks of Spring Training, or he will likely follow Michael Wuertz and Rich Hill out of town.
The Cubs next three games are all on the road. They travel to Tucson Electric Park tomorrow, where they will play the Arizona Diamondbacks.