Cubs Cactus Comeback a Real Prick for Angels
Bryan Lahair drilled a walk-off single off the right-centerfield fence to drive-in Fernando Perez from third-base with the winning run, as the Cubs rallied from a ten-run deficit to edge the Los Angeles Angels 14-13 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm and sunny (and VERY breezy) Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Carlos Silva got the start for the Cubs today, and he had nothing, allowing eight runs on ten hits (and a HBP) in just 2.1 IP (54 pitches - 41 strikes), including surrendering eight hits in the top of the 3rd (and all of the hits were smacked right on the button, too). I have seen coaches throwing batting practice who had better stuff than Silva did today. At least Silva threw strikes, so the carnage passed fairly quickly.
And it could have been even worse, if not for Howie Kendrick getting thrown-out trying to score from 1st base on a single with two outs in the top of the 1st (Marlon Byrd had fielded the ball awkwardly and made a blind, off-balance throw toward the infield, but Blake DeWitt recovered nicely and gunned-down Kendrick easily at the plate), and Alberto Callaspo getting squelched by five steps (an absolute laser throw by Welington Castillo) while trying to steal 2nd base after being hit by a pitch in the top of the 2nd inning. But even with the Angel baserunning escapades, Silva could not hope to survive the 3rd. Chris Carpenter relieved Silva with one out, five runs in, and runners on 2nd and 3rd, and while the rookie right-hander did record the last two outs in the inning, he wasn't able to do it before surrendering a two-out two-run RBI single to Chris Pettit that gave the Angels a commanding 8-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Angels starting pitcher Dan Haren was masterfrul, throwing three innings of no run, no hit ball at the Cubs,
James Russell worked the middle three innings for the Cubs, and he wasn't fooling anybody (especially Mark Trumbo), either. Among other things, he allowed a Trumbo solo home run that sailed over the LF scoreboard, and a Trumbo double that almost cleared the 40-ft high batter's eye "Green Monster" in dead CF. Russell was battered in each of his three innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits (two singles, two doubles, a triple, and a home run). Russell is being stretched out as a starter this spring (he threw 54 pitches - 39 strikes today), but he'll probably be getting his starts in the Pacific Coast League.
After being held hitless by Haren, the Cubs started their comeback in the bottom of the 4th against Angels closer Fernando Rodney. Marlon Byrd lined a single with one out, and Aramis Ramirez followed with a line-drive double into the LF corner. The Cubs were down nine runs at the time, but that didn't stop 3rd base coach Ivan DeJesus from waving Byrd home, and (sure enough) Byrd was out by three steps. Not giving up, the Cubs kept up the pressure as Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano, and Welington Castillo strung together consecutive two-out singles to net two runs, and cut the Angels lead to 9-2.
Down 12-2 in the 6th, the Cubs scored seven times. Facing fireballin' RHP Ysmael Carmona (older brother of ex-Cub minor league pitcher Rogelio Carmona), Bryan Lahair led-off the inning with a single. After Carmona blew Matt Camp and Max Ramirez away with high-octane gas, Augie Ojeda and Steve Clevenger drew walks, loading the bases. That was all for Y. Carmona, as RHP Ryan Braun (the Angels pitcher, not the Brewers outfielder) was called into the game and (presumably) ordered to THROW STRIKES. And essentially he did that, as Scott Moore immediately ripped a two-out grand slam HR over the RF fence. But the Cubs weren't done. Lou Montanez singled to left, Fernando Perez also singled, and Josh Vitters sliced an RBI double down the RF line, scoring Montanez. Bryan Lahair walked to load the bases, and then Matt Camp drilled a two-run single to center to score Perez and Vitters, cutting the L. A. lead to 12-9. That finisihed Braun, as Chris Junge came into game. And with Max Ramirez representing the tying run, Junge did indeed restore order and get out of the inning with no further damage. At least in the 6th.
Kerry Wood threw a 1-2-3 7th (with two punch-outs), and Scott Maine worked a scoreless 8th, allowing just a single.
Then the Cubs actually took the lead (temporarily) in the bottom of the 8th. With one out, Fernando Perez walked, and Josh Vitters and Bryan Lahair ripped singles to load the bases. Matt Camp came through again (hitting with two strikes), driving-in Perez with a single, with Vitters holding at 3rd. Max Ramirez then laced a bases-clearing three-run double into the left-centerfield power alley, scoring Vitters, Lahair, and Camp, and giving the Cubs a 13-12 lead.
Jeff Samardzija came into the game in the 9th, trying to protect the one-run lead and record the save. But Brandon Wood wasted no time tying the game up at 13, hitting a solo HR over the right-centerfield fence. The Shark did retire the next three men he faced, but the game was tied.
Lou Montanez led off the bottom of the 9th with a double. Then Fernando Perez tried to move Montanez (representing the winning run) to 3rd with a sacrifice bunt, and it was a good bunt, too. Pitcher Ryan Brasier had no play on the speedy Perez at 1st base, so he took a shot at getting Montanez at 3rd. And Montanez should have been safe at 3rd base, except he overslid the bag and was tagged out. Brasier was very concerned with Perez at 1st base, and made several attempts to hold him close with pickoff throws. But on the first throw home, Perez stole 2nd base easily. (Perez can really fly). Vitters flied out to deep CF for the second out of the inning, although Perez did take 3rd on the out.
Now remember... the Angels had no more pitchers left beyond Brasier, and so the game was going to end after nine innings whether the Cubs scored or not. But thanks to Bryan Lahair's big two-out hit, the Cubs walked-off the field with an improbable comeback victory.
The Cubs defense made two more errors today. RF Tyler Colvin made his third error in ten days on exactly the same type of play, a one-hop line-drive single to right where Colvin bobbles the ball, allowing the runner or runners to move up an extra base. And Augie Ojeda rushed a throw to 1st base with two outs in the top of the 6th, allowing an unearned run to score from 3rd base on the E-6.
Today was the mandatory reporting date for pitchers & catches at Minor League Camp at Fitch Park.
The Cubs have just recently re-signed catcher Mario Mercedes (post-2010 Rule 55 minor league FA) and he was catching at Fitch Park today. Mercedes will probably be one of the two catchers at Daytona in 2011 (Luis Flores should be the other one). Also, 18-year old Venezuelan Hector Suarez was brought up to Fitch Park from the Dominican Academy, and Engel Santana (who was at post-2010 AZ Instructs) is not present and presumably was replaced at Fitch Park by Suarez (with Santana apparently remaining in the Dominican Republic). And utility IF-OF David Macias is learning the art of catching, probably a good idea for a player who is squarely "on the bubble." So expect Macias to remain at Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park at the close of Minor League Camp (just as Jonathan Mota diid last year), giving him a couple of months to get some EXST game experience behind the plate.
Other catchers present at Minor League Camp at Fitch Park are Michael Brenly, Sergio Burruel, Luis Flores, 2010 3rd round pick Micah Gibbs, Jose Guevara, Max Kwan, Blake Lalli, Chad Noble, Jonathan Mota (also a utility IF-OF), and Carlos Romero. Recently-signed Cuban defector Yaniel Cabeza is not at Fitch Park at this time, and 16-year old Alberto Mineo will be remaining at the MLB European Academy in Italy until he graduates from high school. Cubs 2010 22nd round draft pick Jeff Vigurs retired after one season of pro ball season (in which he hit 165/235/233 with a 25% CS at Boise) and will be a Grad Assistant Baseball Coach at Northeastern U.
While only pitchers & catchers were required to be at Fitch Park today, 16 infielders and/or outfielders not required to be in camp have reported over the past week.
Most of you know about D. J. Lemahieu's walk-off HR yesterday at HoHoKam Park, and he is in fact one of the 16 early arrivals. Lemahieu mainly played 2B at Daytona last year, but he was working out exclusively at 3B today. Also present early are OF-1B Michael Burgess (acquired from WAS in the Tom Gorzelanny trade), OF Kyler Burke, OF Tony Campana, 3B Matt Cerda, OF Evan Crawford (acquired from SF last year for Mike Fontenot), SS Wes Darvill, IF-OF Ryan Flaherty, 2010 2nd round draft pick OF Reggie Golden (who needs to lose some weight), IF-OF Marwin Gonzalez, OF Jae-Hoon Ha, 1B Rebel Ridling, OF Matt Szczur, 1B John Urick (29-year old signed out of an independent minor league and functioning as a player-coach today, Urick is the grandson of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog), 2B-SS Logan Watkins (who was working out at both 2B and SS today), and OF Ty Wright (who is restricted to Limited Activity Only while rehabbing from an injury).
2010 1st round draft pick RHP Hayden Simpson is assigned to the Peoria group, and he is cleared to participate in all drills, including throwing. (Simpson was unable to make his pro debut last season while battling mononucleoisis).