Cubs Play Long Ball with Dusty's Reds
Ryan Theriot had three hits, and Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker mashed home runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park under mostly cloudy skies in warm Mesa, AZ.
The Cubs got off to an early 3-0 lead, putting up a three-spot against Reds starter Carlos Fisher in the bottom of the 1st inning.
Ryan Theriot led-off with a ground single to center, and scored when Tyler Colvin crushed a one-out double off the Oregano's sign in right-centerfield. Marlon Byrd followed with a two-run homer (his team-leading 4th dinger of the Spring) off the Dos Gringos taco stand well beyond the left-centerfield fence.
Working with a 3-0 lead, Cubs starter Randy Wells mostly cruised through 5.2 IP (93 pitches - 61 strikes, 8/3 GO/FO), allowing just one run in the top of the 5th on a single, a double, and an RBI ground out. For the day, Wells scattered seven hits (five singles and two doubles), allowing one hit in five of his six innings, and then two hits in the one-run 5th. But he only walked one while striking out five (including the last batter he faced, with a runner on 2nd and one out in the 6th).
Justin Berg got the final out in the 6th (one pitch resulting in a 5-3 GO) to strand an inherited runner, and then Sean Marshall worked the 7th & 8th (34 pitches - 22 strikes), allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four (2/0 GO/FO). Marshall's curve was breaking sharply today, and really fooled the Reds hitters. Marshall's performance was very impressive.
While Marshall was mowing down the Reds, the Cubs scored two in the 7th and three in the 8th.
Facing veteran RHP Kip Wells, Geovany Soto was hit by a pitch (a glancing blow) leading off the bottom of the 7th, and then Jeff Baker and Ryan Theriot lined singles to load the bases. Kosuke Fukudome walked on a 3-1 pitch to force-in a run, and Tyler Colvin racked-up his second RBI of the game on a 6-4 FC, leaving runners at 1st & 3rd and one out. But Marlon Byrd bounced into a 4-6-4 DP to end the inning, with the Cubs ahead 5-1.
Micah Hoffpauir led-off the bottom of the 8th against Reds lefty Matt Maloney with a line single to right, and scored when Mike Fontenot crushed a HR off the Bud Lite Party Pavilion beyond the two bullpens in RF. Then with two outs, Jeff Baker slammed a home run to the base of the scoreboard beyond the fence in LF.
Rookie LHP James Russell worked a scoreless 9th (14 pitches - 12 strikes), allowing one hit and a WP around a Ks, an F-8 (nice running catch by Sam Fuld in deep left-center with his back to the infield), and a game-ending "can o' corn" F-8. (Russell has allowed just one unearned run on seven hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in 11.0 IP this Spring).
Chad Tracy had an odd day at the plate, striking out twice (both looking) and flying out to CF, but he also just missed a HR down the RF line (ball went out of the park, but foul), and then in his next AB he just missed a line-drive double down the RF line (ball landed just outside the line in foul territory).
Supposedly still battling for a spot on the Cubs 25-man roster, veteran Kevin Millar pinch-hit in the bottom of the 8th against LHP Matt Maloney and popped-up to the shortstop in short-CF. I suspect if they can't find a reason to place him on the DL, the Cubs will ask Millar to accept a 30-day vacation with Mike Wellman in Des Moines, after-which he will either get brought up to Chicago or he can have his release. By then, it should be obvious whether Tyler Colvin is getting enough playing time to justify keeping him on the 25-man roster. Or perhaps a position player will get hurt sometime in April and land on the DL, opening up a spot for Millar.
The Cubs will play the Giants tomorrow at Scottsdale Stadium.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.