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. .
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.