Zambrano Sharp in First Game Action
Chris Snyder stroked a three-run homer off the scoreboard to key a five-run 4th, and the Arizona Diamondbacks drubbed the Chicago Cubs 9-1 in record-setting heat at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa.
Carlos Zambrano got the start for the Cubs (his first Cactus League game appearance) and worked two strong innings (25 pitches - 17 strikes - 3/0 GO/FO), allowing no runs and no hits,and just one walk, while striking out three. And it was vintage Zambrano, too, as he slapped himself upside the head when he walked Chad Tracy to open the 2nd.
Carlos Marmol followed "Z", and he looked very good in his one inning of work (12 pitches - 8 strikes), working fast and throwing strikes. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, and then Joey Gathright made a spectacular diving catch in short CF to end the top of the 3rd, literally outrunning the ball on what should have been a bloop hit.
With the score still tied 0-0, Mitch Atkins took the mound to start the 4th. He was apparently supposed to work two innngs today, but he ended-up working just one, partly because it took him 30 pitches (18 strikes) to get through the 4th inning, and partly because he got shellacked (five runs and four hits, one HR, and two HBP). Atkins worked slowly and probably put Manager Lou Piniella to sleep, which is never good.
Edward Campusano came into the game in the top of the 5th, and he did not finish his inning. He gave up a double, a stolen base, and two walks, before getting yanked with two outs and the bases loaded, after throwing 25 pitches (only 11 strikes). Finding the strike zone has been a problem for Campusano since undergoing Tommy John Surgery a couple of years ago, and he continues to have difficulty finding the strike zone. His one strike out victim was left-handed hitting 1B Josh Whitesell, though, not too surprising since Campusano is usually death against left-handed hitters.
With Campusano having already thrown 25 pitches and with Chris Snyder due to hit with the bases loaded, Manager Piniella made a rare appearance on the field and summoned RHP Ken Kadokura into the game to get the final out of the inning. And Kadokura did indeed get Snyder on a pop up to end the inning,
However, in Kadokura's second inning, the veteran Japanese righthander once again nibbled his way through the batting order (I believe "kadokura" is the Japanese word for "nibbler"), throwing 20 pitches (11 strikes) while allowing a run on a double, two walks, and two wild pitches. It is truly excrutiating watching Kadokura pitch. It's not that he has a bum arm or anything, it's just that he won't challenge hitters.
Jason Waddell pitched the 7th, and apparently somebody must have told him before he left for Spring Training that Piniella does not like pitchers who work slowly and/or don't throw strikes. In his last outing Waddell got through his one inning in about two minutes flat, throwing only six pitches This time out he struggled more than last time (19 pivches - 11 strikes), but he worked VERY fast and was once again saved by LF Doug Deeds, who ran down a two-out double that had been lined into the left-field corner, and then made a pinpoint relay throw to Mike Fontenot (who was playing SS for one inning), who then fired the ball just in time to get the runner trying to score from first. (Deeds made a spectacular catch while crashing into the LF fence the last time Waddell was on the hill).
Jeff Stevens pitched the 8th and allowed two routine ground ball singles through the infield, before coaxing a room service 6-4-3 DP ball to get ouit of the jam.
Angel Guzman worked the 9th, and he had a terrible outing (31 pitches - 17 strikes), allowing three runs on three hits (including two hard-hit doubles) and a walk. His problem was mainly that he wasn't fooling anybody, and the longer he pitched, the more his command went south. J. R. Mathes was warming up in the pen and would have probably been summoned if Gooz had not retired his last hitter. Even with no minor league options left, Guzman will have to pitch a lot better than he did today if he wants to make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster.
The only offense mustered by the Cubs today was a one run "rally" in the bottom of the 9th, when Micah Hoffpauir doubled to left-center, and scored on a double roped into the LF corner by the normally light-hitting Andres Blanco
So far through six games, all of the Cubs pitchers have seen game action except Jose Ascanio (who appears to have an elbow problem), 2008 #1 draft pick Andrew Cashner, Rich Harden (torn labrum), Vince Perkins (headed for the WBC with Team Canada), Brian Schlitter (who got a last-minute NRI to big league camp after Bill White was released), Matt Smith (unknown reason), Luis Vizcaino (late arrival to camp after having visa problems in the Dominican Republic), and Randy Wells (who may still be feeling the effects of a stress fracture of his pitching arm sustained last September)
The Cubs will be back in action tomorrow at HoHoKam Park versus the Oakland A's, before a split squad of Cubs heads to Vegas to play the White Sox Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. .
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.