Morelli Strikes Out A's
RF Jesus Morelli threw a strike to catcher Matt Cerda with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, nipping the potential tying run at the plate and preserving the victory, as the EXST Cubs edged the EXST A's 4-3 in Extended Spring Training action at Papago Park Field #2 in Phoenix this morning.
18-year old Australian RHP Adam Spencer entered the game in the bottom of the 9th after the Cubs had come back to tie and then take the lead with two outs in the top of the 9th, thanks to a two-base error by the A's shortstop and a clutch RBI single by Jose Guevara.
Spencer gave up a lead-off triple into the left-field corner, before getting the first out of the 9th on a pop-up to short CF, with the runner holding at third. The next A's hitter lofted a lazy fly ball to medium deep RF, and Morellii got a good read on it, getting himself into position to throw by circling behind the ball, and getting all of his momentum moving forward, before throwing the game-ending strike home to just barely nab the runner trying to score.
Morelli has struggled with the bat, so I'm sure he feels great having contributed to a victory with his defense. The 19-year old Dominican was all smiles as he high-fived his teammates milling round the pitchers mound after the game ended.
RHP "Big Jon" Nagel got the start for the Cubs today, and allowed one run in three innings of work. He was not as sharp as he had been in his previous couple of outings, as his sinker just wasn't sinking like it usually does, but he still managed to get four punchouts along the way with a nasty slider.
The Cubs tied the game in the 4th and then took the lead 2-1 in the 6th, with 18-year old Australian LF Sean Williams scoring both of the runs after getting on base to lead off both frames. once by walk and once by single. Like Morelli, Williams has struggled with the bat, so he has to feel good about reaching base three times and scoring twice today.
But the A's rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 7th when Cubs lefty reliever Marcos Perez had control issues, and the A's took the one-run lead into the 9th.
John Contreras led off the Cub 9th with a line-drive double into the left-center alley, but PR Alvaro Sosa couldn't move up as Jericho Jones fanned and George Matheus popped up weakly to the second-baseman.
Then Sean Hoorelbeke hit what should have been a routine game-ending 6-3 grounder, but the ball caromed off the shortstop's glove into short LF, allowing Sosa to score (just barely) from 2nd base with the tying run. Morelli was hit by a pitch, and then Guevara lined his game-winning RBI single to CF.
In EXST Cubs injury news, 18-year old Korean OF Jae-Hoon Ha is listed as "day-to-day" with a sore wrist.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Jose Valdez, CF: 1-2 (1-3, 5-3 SH, 1B, BB)
2. Logan Watkins, 2B: 2-4 (1B, 1B, 4-6 FC, K - 1 RBI)
3. Matt Cerda, DH-C: 0-4 (L-3 DP, 6-4 FC, 4-3, 1-3)
4a. John Contreras, 3B: 1-4 (P-3, 6-4 FC, L-7, 2B)
4b. Alvaro Sosa, PR-3B: 0-0 (1 R)
5. Jericho Jones, DH #2: 2-4 (6-3, 1B, 1B, K - 1 PO)
6a. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 0-2 (F-8, 5-4 FC)
6b. George Matheus, SS 1-2 (1B, P-4)
7. Sean Hoorelbeke, 1B: 0-4 (F-7, L-5, 4-6 FC, E-6 - 1 R)
8. Jesus Morelli, RF: 0-2 (4-3, K, BB, HBP - 1 SB)
9. Jose Guevara, C-DH: 1-4 (K, 6-3, K, 1B - 1 RBI)
10. Sean Williams, LF: 1-2 (1B, BB, BB, F-9 - 2 R)
1. Jon Nagel - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 3/2 GO/FO
2. Rogelio Carmona - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GO/FO
3. Marcos Perez - 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GO/FO
4. Melvin Vasquez - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/2 GO/FO
5. Adam Spencer - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 0/3 GO/FO
Matt Cerda - 1 PB
WEATHER: Hot & sunny, temperature in the high 90's