Jake Fox Three-Run Blast Powers Cubs to Victory
Jake Fox slammed a three-run homer and Joey Gathright had three hits, a walk, an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base (and made a nice running catch in right-centerfield as well), as the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, Arizona this afternoon, before another smallish crowd (6,711).
Sean Marshall got the start and went two innings (30 pitches - 20 strikes - 1/3 GO/FO), allowing one run on four hits. Marshall kept bouncing his curve and left a few of his other pitches too high in the strike zone, but overall it wasn't a bad outing.
The Brewers scored a run in the top of the 1st when Chris Duffy tripled to CF and then J. J. Hardy followed with a double to left-center. The Brewers missed scoring another run in the inning, however, when Hardy was cut down 7-6-2 (with a perfect relay throw by SS Darwin Barney to catcher Paul Bako) after LF Micah Hoffpauir lost a fly ball in the sun.
Hoffpauir's misplay in LF in the 1st inning wasn't his only gaffe of the day, either, as he allowed a pop up to drop in front of him in the 5th, eventually resulting in a run during Carlos Marmol's one ining of work.
While Hoffpauir is a Gold Glove caliber defender at 1B (he was voted the top defensive first-baseman in the PCL by rival managers last season), he just doesn't display any defensive acumen in the outfield. But the problem is, Manager Lou Piniella probably feels like Hoffpauir will need to be able to passably play a corner OF spot at least occasionally if he is to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Today was not a good day for Hoffpauir in that respect.
The Cubs tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the 2nd off Seth McClung, when Darwin Barney singled, advanced to second when PH Steve Clevenger drew a walk, and and scored as Joey Gathright rolled a single just out of J. J. Hardy's reach into LF.
The Cubs took the lead for good in the bottom of the 3rd, when Jake Fox blasted his three-run dinger over the left-field fence following back-to-back walks to Richie Robnett and Micah Hoffpauir. (The Cubs drew 11 walks today, and went deep into the count in a number of ABs).
The Cubs scored two more runs in the 6th, as Welington Castillo walked and Joey Gathright reached on an infield hit, followed by an RBI single by Aaron Miles )who hit two rockets directly at defenders in his first two at bats), and a sac fly to short CF by Robnett, where Gathright showed his blazing speed by outracing the throw to the plate.
The Cubs scored their final run in the bottom of the 7th, when the left-side of the Brewers infield (Mike Lamb and Alcides Escobar) took turns throwing the ball away.
The Cubs pitchers had mixed results today.
Chad Gaudin followed Marshall to the mound,working two innings (38 pitches - 22 strikes - 4/1 GO/FO), during which he allowed four hits (one of which was a gargantuan HR hit completely out of the ballpark by Mike Cameron) and a walk, while striking out one. He was saved from a much worse line thanks to two timely inning-ending double plays, one 4-6-3 and the other 6-4-3, the latter of which probably allowing Gaudin to complete his second inning without having to be relieved (his pitch count was getting close to 40).
Carlos Marmol worked the 5th and he did throw strikes (13 pitches - 10 strikes), but he also allowed a run (technically "earned"), thanks to a HBP and Hoffpauir's misplay in LF,
Veteran LHP Mike Stanton, who is battling for a job in the bullpen, had a perfect opportunity to show Manager Lou Piniella what he could do, facing six left-handed hitters and just one right-handed hitter. The one right-hander (Mike Rivera) slugged a HR, and against the lefty swingers, Stanton struck out two (both swinging), while also allowing a single, a walk, and a hard-hit line drive out to 1st base. Overall, not all bad against the lefty batters, but not all good, either. A sort of mixed-bag for Stanton.
Kevin Hart (15 pitches - only seven strikes - allowing a single while also hitting a batter) , Chad Fox (just eight pitches - six strikes - three up, three down, a GO, a FO, and a K-swinging), and Angel Guzman (ten pitches - seven strikes, allowing a near-HR ground rule double and two loud fly outs, before striking out Scott Thorman swinging to end the game) each threw one shutout inning to close the game out. Chad Fox was especially impressive in his one inning.
The Cubs are now 2-0 in Cactus League play, and will travel out to Surprise tomorrow to play the Texas Rangers.
BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.