Marshall Perfecto & Three Cub Bombs Drop A's at the Ho
Sean Marshall,threw three perfect innings and Alfonso Soriano, Jake Fox, and Aramis Ramirez slammed home runs, helping the Cubs dump the Oakland A's 6-4 under overcast skies and 80-degree temperatures and in front of 6.500 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
In a battle for the #5 starting job, Sean Marshall got the start for the Cubs and was simply marvelous, retiring all nine men he faced in three consecutive 1-2-3 innings.
Unlike his last time out, when he kept bpuncing his curve while leaving everything else up in the strike zone, Marshall was right on target today, dropping his curve in for strikes, and coaxing the A's into five ground ball outs through the first two innngs while facing the likes of Jack Cust, Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Bobby Crosby, and Kurt Suzuki.
Marshall might have begun to tire just a little bit in the top of the third when the A's put a couple of balls into the air, but then the lefty finished off his outing by striking out pinch-htter Jeff Baisley.
For the day, Marshall threw a total of 35 pitches (24 for strikes), with a 5/3 GO/FO, and no balls were hit hard.
Kevin Gregg worked an EXTREMELY quick 4th inning, retiring the side on five pitches (all strikes, with four of the balls put into play, and all four of those on the ground)..I think I might have blinked twice (three times max) during that inning.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense was playing long-ball with the A's pitchers, putting up six runs thanks to a solo HR over the RF fence and into the Cubs bullpen by Alfonso Soriano off A's starter (and ex-Cub) Sean Gallagher leading off the bottom of the 1st, a two-run blast also hit over the RF fence and into the Cubs bullpen by Jake Fox off reliever Kevin Cameron in the bottom of the 3rd, and a three run moon-bomb by Aramis Ramirez off ex-Cubs LHRP prospect Jerry Blevins that landed just in front of the scoreboard well beyond the LF fence following walks to PH So Taguchi and Ryan Theriot in the bottom of the 4th.
With the Cubs up 6-0, veteran lefty reliever Mike Stanton pitched the 5th, and he did not have a good outing (28 pitches - 15 strikes). He gave up three hits and a walk, and most everything was hit hard off him. He could not even retire lefty-swinging Eric Patterson. I realize Stanton hasn't pitched for a couple of years, and I'm fairly sure the Cubs will give him a reasonable chance to try and get himself into some kind of groove, but so far he looks washed-up to me.
Making his 2009 Cactus League debut (he was late to camp, supposedly due to "visa problems"), RHP Luis Vizcaino (acquired from Colorado for Jason Marquis during the off-season) worked the 6th, and he looked very good (a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Holliday-Giambi-Bowen, 1/1 GO/FO, one K, on only 12 pitches). I have to admit I was half-expecting to see a broken-down sore-armed guy slinging the ball up to the plate, but his fastball actually had some zip on it, and his breaking ball looked good, too.
2008 #1 draft pick RHP Andrew Cashner (he of the 99 MPH fastball and high 80's slider) made his Spring Training game debut in the 7th. As one would expect, he had command probblems (24 pitches - only 12 strikes), and along the way he allowed two runs on three hits, a walk, and a wild pitch (and got no punch-outs), before leaving the game with runners on 1st and 2nd and only one out in the inning.
Neal Cotts relieved Cashner, and immediately induced an infield pop up that Jake Fox (naturally) dropped. But since there were runners on 1st & 2nd with only one out, it was an infield fly rule situation, so the batter was out. Except the runners took off running as soon as Fox dropped the ball, and so Fox (far more alert than he is competent defensively) gunned the ball to a waiting Luis Rivas at 3rd base. Except Rivas stepped on the bag instead of tagging the runner. So the runner was safe. Except the runner thought he must be out, so he walked away. And thus Rivas had a chance to redeem himself and tag the runner. But Rivas didn't do that, instead throwing the ball back to Fox (who was wildly waving his arms "NO!!!" and pointing at to the base runner headed to the dugout), But alas it was too late, and the A;s 3rd base coach was able to communicate to the runner to get his ass back to 3rd. Which he did. So the inning continued with the tying runs at 2nd & 3rd. . Cotts got the next hitter, too (GO), but it shouldn't have gotten that far.
RHP (and ex-catcher) Randy Wells (September 2008 stress fracture in his pitching arm) made his 2009 Cactus League game debut in the 8th, and had an easy seven-pitch 1-2-3 inning (two ground outs and a pop up).
Going for the save, RHP Esmailin Caridad worked the 9th, and he labored (18 pitches - only eight strikes). Caridad put the tying runs on base on a one-out walk and a double, but then he seemed to bear down, retiring the final two hitters on a ground out and a pop up.
I thought Soriano had some really nice swings today, His home run (off Gallagher) was on a high outside fastball, where he stood on his tip toes and just lined the ball over the RF fence. (He had another swing exactly like that yesterday, too, but the ball was caught on the warning track in RF). In his second AB today, Sori tomahawked a high fastball to LF that almost took Matt Holliday's glove off. And then in his 3rd AB, he hit another rope to RF that was caught.
It was also nice to see Eric Patterson again, doing that voodoo that you do so well... easy ground ball just to the right of first-baseman Giambi, Patterson ranges to his left and makes a stop about 15 feet behind and slightly to the left of the 1st base bag, he has all the time in the world, and so he double clutches, and throws the ball away. Classic E-Pat.
And Jake Fox needs to get traded to an American League team where can DH. He has outstanding power, but he he is dangerous to himself (and others) no matter what position he plays in the field.
Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.
I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.
Benji Molina is out of lineup
Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.
Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.
If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.
No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.
I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.
Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!
BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.
AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?
Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?
CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!
Oh what do you know, Cubster? Go back to your day job.
--- Ducks, puts on Cardinals cap, runs.
Russell had a severe hamstring last year while with the A's system, forcing him to miss the first half of 2014. I've even wondered if his injury last year was a component of Billy Beane putting him on the trade market. He was quoted saying that last year's injury was a 10 out of 10 when it happened. Last night he said his hamstring soreness was a 1/1.5 out of 10. Hamstring injuries are tricky though, so I'd expect the medical team to be overly cautious here.
...I want to reinforce the observation that there was no sea of red in the crowd. The usual Cardinal fans roaming the stadium were few and far between.
Also, almost every 2 strike pitch brought the fans to their feet. Good for those in knee rehab.
"1st team hit hit 6HR in a game in the postseason." rises above obvious...i checked it with the official fact-finding commission of Douche, Douche, and Douchestein. they agreed with you, but they're a bunch of f'n douches so who cares?
btw, the cubs are 2-1 in the post-season series.