Dodgers Can't Escape the Wrath of Hoff-POWER!
Micah Hoffpauir crushed a grand slam in the bottom of the 5th, turning a two-run Cubs deficit into a two-run Cub lead, as the Cubs defeated the Dodgers 5-3 in the Cactus League opener for both clubs at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny and warm Mesa, Arizona
Today's game marked the Cactus League debut of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Da Bums have moved their Spring Training and Minor League operations from their long-time Dodgertown digs in Vero Beach, Florida, to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. It was very strange to see the Cubs playing the Dodgers in Mesa, let me tell you.
There certainly was no problem with the 80 degree temperatures, but the smallish crowd (7,916) was disappointing. Back in the day, the Cubs Cactus League home opener was ALWAYS a sell-out. But those who were there got to sing "Happy Birthday" to a smiling Ron Santo, before watching the Cubs come from behind to win the game.
Both clubs played a fair number of their regulars, but the Cubs gave the start to Jeff Samardzija, who is battling for the 5th spot in the rotation with Sean Marshall and a couple of others.
The Shark was not particularly sharp this afternoon, allowing two runs (both earned) on three hits and two walks, with one strikeout and a GIDP over his two innings of work (35 pitches - 20 strikes - 3/2 GO/FO).
Samardzija was able to escape the 1st inning unscathed, before loading the bases with no outs in the top of the 2nd. He then got the 1-2-3 comebacker DP he needed and was poised to finish his outing without allowing a run, before #9 hitter Tony Abreu lined a single to CF to plate the first two Dodger runs.
Mitch Atkins followed Samardzija and had a so-so outing, allowing one run on a couple of singles and a stolen base in the top of the 3rd, before throwing a scoreless 4th. Overall, Atkins, went two innings (25 pitches - 16 strikes - 3/2 GO/FO), allowing just the one run on three hits, no walks, one K, and one GIDP.
Five Cub pitchers then threw one shutout inning a piece, holding the Dodgers at bay. Of the five, Dominican RHP Esmailin Caridad was the most impressive, getting three easy ground outs on just ten pitches (seven strikes) in the top of the 6th. Rule 5 RHP David Patton (20 pitches - 14 strikes) surrendered a couple of singles in the 7th, but around that he threw some nasty breaking balls and showed a fastball with some pop, and NRI LHP Jason Waddell (20 pitches - 12 strikes) got a couple of punchouts while also allowing a walk in his one inning of work.
RHP Jeff Stevens (one of the pitchers the Cubs acquired from the Indians for Mark DeRosa during the off-season) had a bit of roller-coaster ride in the 9th while going for the save, putting the tying runs on base on a single and a walk, before getting the final out on a long fly to the warning track in RF. He also got a strikeout along the way, and appeared to have some decent velocity on his fastball, although he did struggle a bit with his command
The Cubs offense was essentially All Hoffpauir, as the DH also plated the Cubs first run on a 4-6-3 DP grounder with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the 1st. Hoffpauir struck out with two on and two out in the 3rd, before smoking his bases loaded shot over the fence in right-center field off Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso in the bottom of the 5th.
Otherwise, there wasn't a whole lot of offense. Hoffpauir's HR was the only extra base hit of the game for either team, and only Ryan Theriot and Dodger 1B James Loney had more than one hit (both went 2-3 with two singles). .
The defensive play of the game definitely was CF Reed Johnson's diving catch in right-centerfield in the top of the 1st, saving what looked to be a certain double or triple. Johnson laid his body out to full length, before spearing the ball in his trusty mitt.
And catcher Koyie Hill threw a laser to cut down a potential base stealer in the top of the 5th, although he had some ugly swings in his two ABs (a strikeout-swinging and a feeble ground out).
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.
So, playing .500 for the rest of the year puts them at 91 wins. You would think there is enough talent to do a little better than that, right?
First team to 60 wins! Onward to 70, 80, 90 and 100!