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. .
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
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.