Cubs Take Sentimental Journey to Cactus League Victory
Joe Mather blasted a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the 7th to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 Cubs lead, and Blake Lalli smashed a solo HR over the RF bullpens in the 8th to provide an insurance run, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-6 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
The game featured a pre-game fly-over by a World War II vintage B-17 bomber (“Sentimental Journey”) that is based at Falcon Field in Mesa.
NOTE: Scroll down for the updated MINOR LEAGUE CAMP rosters (effective today 3/12).
Ian Stewart got the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the 1st against RHP Bronson Arroyo, ripping an RBI triple into the right-center alley to score Marlon Byrd, who had singled with one out. (Brett Jackson rifled a single to right to lead-off the inning, but was thrown-out trying to stretch the hit into a double). Alfonso Soriano followed Stewart, slugging his 4th Cactus League home run (a two-run shot over the LF scoreboard) to cap the three-run inning.The Cubs scored another run in the 2nd, as Darwin Barney grounded a double down the LF line, and after Steve Clevenger and Brett Jackson walked to load the bases, with one out, Marlon Byrd lofted sacrifice fly to CF to drive-home Barney and give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
After being sidelined with the flu last week, LHP Paul Maholm made his Cub game debut today, starting the game and allowing one run (a Todd Frazier solo HR) on two hits, no walks, and two strikeouts, in two innings of work (24 pitches – 13 strikes, 5/0 GO/FO). Maholm then threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after he left the game, demonstrating that he probably could have gone another inning if that was part of the plan. A former rotation-starter for the Pirates, Maholm was signed by the Cubs as a free-agent during the off-season, and is expected to be in the Cubs starting rotation in 2012.
RHP Jeff Samardzija “piggy-backed” with Maholm, throwing three innings (39 pitches – 27 strikes). The Shark allowed two runs on two hits and a HBP in his first inning of work (the top of the 3rd), before retiring the last eight men he faced. The big righthander did not walk anyone, and he struck out three, with a 4/2 GO/FO. Samardzija should have gotten out of the 3rd allowing just one run, but SS Junior Lake rushed a throw while trying to complete a room-service 4-6-3 DP, extending the inning.
Like Maholm, Samardzija threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after he was removed from the game, so he probably could have gone four innings if asked. (Samardzija appeared to be getting stronger & stronger and his command improved as he threw more pitches).
Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo worked an easy 1-2-3 6th inning as he battles to win a job in the Cubs bullpen (although he faced only minor league hitters), but closer Carlos Marmol had another bad outing. With the Cubs up 4-3 through six, Marmol gave up the lead in the 7th, allowing three runs on a walk, a double, a HBP, a two-run RBI single, another walk that re-loaded the bases, and a sac fly. Marmol had just about zero command today (29 pitches – only 14 strikes).
Now down 6-4, the Cubs took back the lead in the 7th when Joe Mather continued his hot power-hitting, unloading his two-out three-run dinger that landed well beyond the left-centerfield fence off Reds RHRP Carlos Fisher, following walks to Dave Sappelt and Jim Adduci. Kerry Wood worked a scoreless 8th, and then Blake Lalli ripped his bomb leading off the bottom of the inning. RHP Marcos Mateo then worked a 1-2-3 9th (P-4, K, 6-3) for the save. (Mateo is out of minor league options, so the Cubs need to decide by the end of Spring training if he is MLB-worthy).
Defensive play of the day was a one-out diving catch by 2B Bobby Scales that kept the potential tying run at 3rd base (and saved Kerry Wood) with one out in the top of the 8th. Although he did get an NRI to Spring training with the big club, Scales will likely serve as a player-coach at AAA Iowa in 2012. (He is viewed by the Cubs as a potential future manager or instructor/coach)
Meanwhile, newly signed 20-year old Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion made his debut on Field #2 at Fitch Park, working out with the AA Tennessee squad. Also, several of the Cubs top prospects (including SS Javier Baez, 1B Dan Vogelbach, and 3B Jeimer Candelario) were moved down to the Boise/Mesa squad (which will become the Cubs Extended Spring Training squad next month) from the Peoria squad. There were a few other roster adjustments as well, as the six players sent to Minor League Camp this past weekend (RHPs Marco Carrillo, Trey McNutt, and Dae-Eun Rhee, C Micah Gibbs, INF Jonathon Mota, and OF Jae-Hoon Ha) have reported to Fitch Park.
Here are the updated Cubs Minor League Camp rosters (effective today)
Justin Berg (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Brooks Raley
* Nate Robertson
* Ryan Rowland-Smith
Luis Flores (see NOTE)
# Micah Gibbs
NOTE: Luis Flores is on the RESTRICTED LIST while serving a 50-game Prohibited Substance suspension, but he is participating in Minor League Camp activities
# David Macias
* Michael Burgess
* Jeffry Antigua
David Cales (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Gerardo Concepcion
* Frank del Valle (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Brent Ebinger
Ricardo Estevez (see NOTE)
* Casey Harman
* Eric Jokisch
* Matt Spencer (ex-OF)
Rob Whitenack (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
NOTE: Ricardo Estevez is on the RESTRICTED LIST while serving a 50-game Prohibited Substance suspension, but he is participating in Minor League Camp activities
* Sergio Burruel
* Rafael Lopez
* Justin Bour
* Matt Cerda
# Zeke DeVoss
* Jake Opitz
* Rubi Silva
* Logan Watkins
Taiwan Easterling (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Kyler Burke (ex-OF)
P. J. Francescon
* Austin Kirk
* Jeff Lorick
A. J. Morris
* Zac Rosscup
Charles Thomas (ex-3B)
Yaniel Cabezas (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Anthony Giansanti (ex-OF)
# Arismendy Alcantara
* Ryan Cuneo (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Wes Darvill
* Richard Jones
* Pin-Chieh Chen
* Ben Klafczynski
* Hunter Ackerman
* Willengton Cruz
Dillon Maples (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Sheldon McDonald
* Andrew McKirahan
Wilson Contreras (ex-3B)
* Justin Marra
# Wilfredo Petit
# Marco Hernandez
# Brian Inoa
* Eduardo Gonzalez
# Oliver Zapata
Ethan Elias (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Graham Hicks (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
Austin Reed Colin Richardson
* Brian Smith
Austin Urban (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Alberto Mineo
# Jeimer Candelario
* Danny Lockhart
# Rock Shoulders
* Dan Vogelbach
* Delbis Arcila
* Shawon Dunston, Jr
* Trevor Gretzky (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
* Garrett Schlecht (LIMITED ACTIVITY ONLY)
NOT ON FIELD - WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN:
Gregori Gonzalez, IF-OF (?)
Yohan Gonzalez, P (?)
* Cam Greathouse, P (supposedly will report to EXST)
Alvido Jimenez, P (?)
Arturo Maltos-Garcia, P (2011 TJS rehab)
Amaury Paulino, P (?)
* Nelson Perez, OF (?)
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?