Dustin X-Ackley What Mariners Need to Throttle Cubs
Dustin Ackley smashed a three-run home run to cap a four-run 5th inning, and Guillermo Quiroz cracked a two-run HR to finish the scoring in the 9th, as the Seattle Mariners drubbed the Cubs 10-3 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in cool & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Chris Volstad (acquired from the Marlins in exchange for Carlos Zambrano during the off-season) got the start for the Cubs and looked very good, retiring the first seven men he faced and throwing three innings of one-hit shutout ball (32 pitches – 18 strikes, 2/4 GO/FO). As was the case with Jeff Samardzija yesterday, Volstad had his scheduled two-inning stint extended by an inning after throwing only 17 pitches (combined) through his first two innings.
Kerry Wood followed Volstad to the mound, making his 2012 Cactus League debut. Woody threw a shutout inning, allowing a two-out Justin Smoak double that was rifled down the RF line. KW is always a fan favorite at HoHoKam.
Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd, slugging a lead-off solo HR just to the left of the “Green Monster” Batter’s Eye and off the roof of the CF refreshment stand. Sori has been on fire this week, as he appears be in the midst of one of his patented home run binges. The 36-year old Soriano may be just a one-dimensional player at this stage of his career, but that one dimension is an ability to hit gargantuan home runs.
Cub closer Carlos Marmol took the hill in the 5th, and he had a bad outing. He did rack-up a couple of strikeouts (both swinging), but otherwise he couldn’t even retire the side before having to be relieved. For the day, Marmol allowed four runs on four hits plus an HBP in 2/3 of an inning. Among the hits allowed was a Dustin Ackley three-run HR that landed above & beyond the RF bullpens.
RHP Blake Parker (competing for a RH middle-relief job) relieved Marmol and extinguished the fire in the 5th by striking out Justin Smoak, but the Mariners scored a run off Parker in the 6th on consecutive one-out hits before a “strike-‘em-out/throw-‘em-out” (in concert with catcher Welington Castillo) ended the inning.
Down 5-1 going into the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs scored two runs off Seattle RHRP Tom Wilhelmsen to make the score 5-3. Both of the runs were unearned, thanks to a couple of throwing errors, one by Wilhelmsen himself when he overthrew the first-baseman after fielding a strike three pitch that bounced off the catcher’s shin-guard and halfway out to the mound.
LHP Scott Maine did nothing to win the 2nd LH relief job, coming into the game in the top of 7th after the Cubs had scored two in the previous half-inning and promptly giving both runs back. Josh Vitters contributed to the problem with an E-5 throwing error, but the fact is Maine just could not throw strikes. He was all over the place, and ended-up walking the bases loaded and then surrendering a two-run double before getting yanked out of the game with the Cubs down 7-3.
RHP Alberto Cabrera relieved Maine, and although he got the last out in the 7th (leaving two runners stranded), he then gave up three consecutive hits leading off the 8th. 38-year old veteran LHRP Trever Miller came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, and did as well as probably could be expected under the circumstances, allowing one of the runners to score on a single, but also inducing a couple of comeback bouncers to the mound (one leading to a 1-2 FC, and the other beginning an inning-ending 1-2-3 DP).
RHRP Casey Weathers (competing with Blake Parker and several others for the RH middle-relief job) pitched the 9th, and he stunk, walking three, throwing two wild pitches, and allowing a two-run HR. (Weathers was the pitcher the Cubs got from the Rockies in the trade involving Ian Stewart, Tyler Colvin, and D. J. LeMahieu).
Cubs dead-head brain-fart Play of the Day was by Twins castoff infielder Matt Tolbert, who, with runners at 1st & 2nd and no outs, dived to stop a ball behind 2nd base, and then instead of tossing the ball six feet to a waiting Junior Lake (who was STANDING ON 2ND BASE) for an easy 4-6 force-out (the runner would have been out at 2nd by three or four steps), inexplicably decided to get to his feet and try to throw out the runner at 1st base (who had crossed the bag by the time the throw arrived). Not exactly Chris Webber calling timeout when his team had no timeouts left in an NCAA National Championship basketball game, but it was still a stupid decision.
The Cubs travel to the west-side tomorrow, where they will play the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
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.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.
I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.
Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.
The Cubs are stronger defensively than most of the teams they play. In order to capitalize on that, they have to a) put the ball in play and b) run the bases aggressively.
That said, Cabrera has a strong, accurate arm, as witnessed by his 97 outfield assists over 12 seasons--mostly left field but also a lot of center. Bryant is rarely thrown out, but I guess you have to know who's throwing the ball.