Cubs Close 2009 Cactus League Season with 9th Inning Win
Andres Blanco looped a single over the third-baseman's head to score Reed Johnson from second with one out in the bottom of the 9th, as the Cubs squandered an early 7-1 lead only to come back and defeat the Cleveland Indians 9-8 before a sparse crowd on Spring Training "getaway day" at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in Mesa.
Ryan Dempster got the start for the Cubs, his last one in preparation for his first scheduled start of the "Championship Season" Tuesday night in Houston. Demp worked four innings (63 pitches - 43 strikes, 4/1 GO/FO), and had a good outing. He did allow two home runs (a solo shot to Korean slugger Shin-Soo Choo after striking out the first two hitters in the top of the 1st, and a two-run blast to PH Andy Marte with no outs in the top of the 3rd) and three doubles (one a "hustle" double by Trevor Crowe, who caught CF Kosuke Fukudome napping), but otherwise he didn't walk anybody, while racking up seven strikeouts.
The Cubs made the most of a poor outing by ex-STL RHP Anthony Reyes (one-time college teammate of Mark Prior at USC), who was just plain lousy today.
Alfonso Soriano got up on his tiptoes and lined a high fastball over the RF fence to lead off the bottom of the 1st, and then the roof really caved-in on Reyes in the bottom of the 2nd, thanks to poor control by the pitcher, and a couple of inopportune miscues by Tribe middle-infielders. .
Mike Fontenot and Bobby Scales led-off the 2nd with walks, as Reyes could not find home plate, and then Andres Blanco rolled an opposite-field single to LF to load the bases. Koyie Hill just as quickly unloaded the bases, driving in all three runners with a ringing triple powered into the right-centerfield alley (Hill had two hits and threw out a potential base-stealer today). Ryan Dempster just stuck out his bat and blooped an RBI single over the first-baseman's head to score K. Hill, and then Soriano went deep into the count and worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Joey Gathright (who had two hits, a walk, and a stolen base today) blooped a single to left to re-load the bases, and then Fukudome lined a shot that was caught by Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (Kosuke also hit a blistering line drive in the bottom of the 1st right at the SS). Cabera made a spectacular diving, sprawling catch that looked like it might possibly end up in a triple play, except Cabrera threw the ball away in his haste to double-up Soriano at 2nd, allowing Dempster to score from 3rd. Micah Hoffpauir then grounded into what looked to be a possible inning-ending 3-6-1 DP, but SS Jhonny Peralta pumped the relay past 1st base (Anthony Reyes was late covering the bag anyway), allowing Soriano to score, and Hoffpauir to reach base safely.
So it was Cubs on top after two, 7-1.
After the Indians made it 7-3 on the Marte PH HR in the 3rd, the Cubs scored a run in the bottom of the 4th off reliever Scott Roehl, when Gathright walked with one out, stole 2nd, and scored on a two-out Mike Fontenot RBI single bounced sharply into CF.
Chad Gaudin entered the game in the top of the 5th, and after striking out the pitcher on three pitches, allowed seven of the next ten men to reach base on two singles, a walk, a Ryan Garko two-run HR, and consecutive singles by Trevor Crowe, Damaso Espino, and Wilson Valdez (Crowe scored just before Espino made the third out of the inning at 3rd base, getting thrown out by second-baseman Matt Camp while trying advance from 1st to 3rd).
For the day, Gaudin worked two innings (35 pitches - 26 strikes), allowing three earned runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out two. If the Cubs were showcasing Gaudin for a possible trade, his market value probably dropped even lower today.
Carlos Marmol pitched the 7th (25 pitches - 15 strikes), and allowed a run. Marmol struck out Jamey Carroll to lead off the inning, but then he walked Choo, who advanced to third on a superb textbook hit & run play pulled off by Josh Barfield, who rolled a grounder ever so softly into the very spot just vacated by second-baseman Camp (who was moving in the opposite direction to cover 2nd base), putting runners at 1st & 3rd with one out. Barfield swiped second, and then Garko hit an F-8 SF to score Choo, making the score 8-7 Cubs.
Chad Fox worked an easy 1-2-3 nine pitch 8th (two bunt outs and an F-9), before Rule 5 RHP David Patton came on to start the 9th to try and get the save and send the Cubs off to New York as winners in their 2009 Cactus League finale. .
Unfortunately, Patton looked every bit the youngster who has yet to pitch above "A" ball prior to this season, giving up a lead-off single to Wilson Valdez, and then moving the tying run to 3rd with no outs on an errant attempted pick-off toss over Doug Deeds' head at 1st base. Jamey Carroll made Patton pay immediately, lining a game-tying RBI single to LF, and the normally placid Lou Piniella looked none to happy while squirming in his chair next to the Cubs dugout, knowing that the trip to the airport would be delayed.
After getting the dangerous Choo to roll into a 4-6-3 DP to clear the bases, Patton gave up a two-out single to Barfield and walked Garko, before inducing PH Tony Graffanino to bounce out to short to end the inning. (Thankfully Mark DeRosa wasn't the pinch-hitter!).
Patton needed 28 pitches to get through the inning, and may have moved the kernel of doubt in the back of Lou Piniella's mind about whether the youngster is truly ready for "Prime Time" up toward the front of Lou's brain.
With the game tied 8-8, Uncle Lou apparently pulled Reed Johnson off the team bus that was waiting to leave for the airport to PH for Patton, and Johnson came through nicely, lining a lead-off single. Veteran AAA utility man Bobby Scales did what he was supposed to do, laying down a picture-perfect 3-4 sacrifice bunt, giving "Whitey" (AKA Andres Blanco) the chance to be the hero. And Whitey was indeed up to the challenge, driving in Reed Johnson from 2nd in what turned out to be a close play at the plate (strong throw by Choo almost nailed him).
Leaving Ho Ho Kam Park for the last time this Spring, This Old Cub Fan observed the Rites of Breaking Camp, including a team of brain-dead flunkies in a crew-cab pick-up truck driving out onto the warning truck immediately after the game ended (actually I think they might have driven onto the field while Johnson was sliding across the plate) to take down the advertisements on the fence, two charted buses idling outside the Cubs clubhouse waiting to speed the team to Sky Harbor Airport for the four hour-plus flight to the Big Apple, a gaggle of "roadies" loading a rental truck with the players' gear bags, and two tractor-trailer car-haulers loaded-down with 13 high-priced personal rides destined for Chicago.
if they dont win at least 130 games this season they can pack it all up, turn wrigley into a concert venue, and move the damn team to san jose.
I see where catcher Cael Brockmeyer was promoted to Tennessee a couple of days ago, to fill a roster spot vacated by David Freitas, recently promoted to Iowa. Caratini is the other catcher at Tennessee.
They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.
If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!
(But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)
Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.
Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.