A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood for Rockies
Esmil Rogers threw five innings of one-hit shutout ball, and the Colorado Rockies defeated a split squad of Cubs 4-2 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
box score (Mesa)
Randy Wells got the start for the Cubs, and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits, a walk, and a HBP, with two strikeouts, in five innings of work (69 pitches - 45 strikes, 7/4 GO/FO). He pitched very well, retiring ten of the first eleven men he faced before the Rockies strung together back-to-back-singles and a sacrifice fly to plate a run in the top of the 4th.
Colorado scored two more runs in the top of the 5th, as Wells walked the lead-off hitter (Chris Iannetta) and then surrendered a one-out single to Hernan Iribarren, putting runners on 1st and 2nd. Rockies pitcher Esmil Rogers showed bunt on the first pitch, but then swung away on what looked to be a botched butcher-boy play on the second pitch. As Rogers swung & missed, the two Rockies runners were left hung out to dry in the base-paths. Cub catcher Geovany Soto opted to throw behind Iannetta (who was caught between 2nd & 3rd), but it was a bad decision because Iannetta was able to advance to 3rd base easily, and then Iribarren moved up to 2nd base on the unnecesary late throw to 3rd (Iannetta was already standing on the bag). Rogers hit a sacrifice fly to LF to score Iannetta from 3rd, and then Iribarren scored from 2nd (unearned run) when Alfonso Soriano threw the ball into the 3rd base dugout, for some unknown reason.
Carlos Marmol worked the 6th and walked the bases loaded, getting out of the jam by inducing a pop-out to end the inning and leave the bases jammed. Marmol threw 31 pitches in his one ining, but only 15 were strikes.
RHP Kyle Smit pitched the 7th and actually got four outs (three ground balls and a strikeout), the 4th out thanks to a Blake DeWitt throwing error on what should have been an easy 4-3 GO. Smit was one of 18 players cut today, and he should be the closer at Tennessee at the start of the season.
RHP Justin Berg (who was not cut today despite having a terrible Spring) looked as shaky as usual, throwing 1.2 IP (37 pitches - only 21 strikes), walking two and allowing one hit. He did not allow a run. Jeff Stevens got the final out of the 9th.
Meanwhile, Esmil Rogers was outstanding for the Rockies, completely shutting-down the Cubs for five innings. He faced the minimum number of hitters (15) in his five-inning stint, allowing just a Carlos Pena one-out opposite field single with one out in the 2nd, but the slow-footed Pena was out by a mile trying to stretch the single into a double.
Facing RHRP Matt Belisile, Jim Adduci and PH Scott Moore lined consecutive one-out singles in the bottom of the 6th, but both were left stranded when Matt Camp flied out and Blake DeWitt grounded out to end the inning.
The Cubs got two more runners on base against Rockies closer Hustonn Street in the 8th, as Koyie Hill reached base on an E-4 with one out and Adduci singled to center. But Ryan Flaherty flied out to the base of the Batter's Eye "Green Monster" in dead CF, and Matt Camp popped-out to RF to end the inning.
A cadre of Cubs minor leaguers attempted to mount a last-ditch rally in the bottom of the 9th.
Down 4-0 and facing RHP Edgmer Escalona, Blake DeWitt struck out swinging to open the frame, but Tony Campana lined a single to CF, and advanced to 3rd when Josh Vitters roped a line-drive double down the LF line. Steve Clevenger plated Campana with a sac fly to left, and then Jae-Hoon Ha knocked-in Vitters, rifling a two-out line-drive double into the LF corner. That brought up Koyie Hill (representing the tying run), but Hill struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Meanwhile, Welington Castillo drove-in three runs with a two-run double and a solo HR, Brett Jackson and Tyler Colvin smacked solo home runs, and five Cubs pitchers combined to toss a three-hitter, as the other squad of Cubs defeated the A's 8-1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. (W. Castillo is now hitting 692/733/1.000 with one HR and five RBI, while Koyie Hill is 1-23 and hitting 042/083/087).
box score (Phoenix Municipal Stadium)
Andrew Cashner got the start for the Cubs split squad in Phoenix, allowing one run on two hits (the first two men he faced in the game), and three walks (including the last two men he faced in the 4th before being relieved with one out). I don't know Cashner's pitch count because I wasn't at this game, but Cubs starters are throwing between 60-70 pitches per-game at this point in Spring Training, so he must have thrown a lot of pitches in just 3.1 IP. He did get a ton of ground balls, though (6/1 GO/FO, including one GIDP).