Cub Rally Falls Short at HoHoKam

Doug Mientkiewicz homered, drove in two runs, and made a spectacular sliding catch, and a 9th inning Cubs rally fell one run short for the second day in a row, as the Dodgers edged the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona, in a game played before a capacity crowd under partly cloudy skies and in mid-60’s temperatures

box score

Ryan Dempster got the start for the Cubs and had a long and eventful 1st inning (22 pitches). Matt Kemp led off with an infield single, and stole second easily (off-line one-hop throw by catcher Koyie Hill). Kemp advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Randy Wolf (the first time I can ever remember seeing a pitcher hit in the second slot in the original lineup of a Spring Training game), and then James Loney hit a one-bounce chopper to 1st baseman Derrek Lee, who threw home hoping to nail Kemp coming in from third. But Kemp immediately reversed direction and headed back to third base, while Koyie Hill hesitated and double-clutched the throw, allowing Kemp to make it back safely and Loney to reach base on a FC, and leaving runners at 1st & 3rd with one out. Blake DeWitt walked to load the bases, and then Kemp scored on a Brad Ausmus infield hit, and Loney scored on a Mientkiewicz FC ground out to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Both runs were (technically) earned, but probably neither runner would have scored if Hill had immediately thrown the ball to third. He who hesitates is lunch (or gets placed on waivers)  

Dempster had far more efficient 2nd & 3rd innings, getting through both on just 20 pitches (combined), leaving him with a final line of 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 42 pitches (23 strikes), 4/2 GO/FO. I would say that despite the two runs allowed, Dempster looked pretty good today.

Luis Vizcaino, Justin Berg, and Esmailin Caridad worked one scoreless inning each in innings 4-5-6, with Vizcaino's outing the most impressive of the three, with a "rocking chair" easy 1-2-3 inning (12 pitches – 2/1 GO/FO). Vizcaino looked good in his last outing, too. .

The hard-throwing Berg (12 pitches – seven strikes) got into a jam when a Chin-lung Hu one-out line-drive hit to right got under the glove of RF Brad Snyder and rolled to the fence for a single + two base error, allowing Hu to reach third. But then with the infield pulled in for a play at the plate and Hu on third (not first), Ryan Theriot made a nice play on a hard-hit ground ball, and threw out the runner Hu was trying to score from third. Kemp was then thrown out trying to steal (the second of two CS by K. Hill today).

Caridad got through his inning with no damage, although he did allow a walk and was behind just about every hitter he faced (16 pitches – only eight strikes).

The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the 6th, on a one-out triple into the RF corner by Snyder (for a big guy, Snyder can really motor around the bases), followed by a towering Micah Hoffpauir F-8 SF RBI to the warning track in right-center. Mientkiewicz got the final putout of the inning, with a death-defying sliding catch in front of the Cubs dugout on a foul pop-up, the type of “maximum effort” play rarely attempted in a Spring Training game. I applaud Mientiewicz for the fine effort.

With the Cubs trailing 2-1, Mitch Atkins took the mound in the top of the 7th, and was immediately greeted by That Man Mientkiewicz again, who drilled a lead off home run into the Cubs bullpen beyond the RF fence. Atkins labored through his one inning of work (18 pitches – 11 strikes), working very slowly and deliberately and making a number of “keep ‘em close” throws to 1st base after Xavier Paul reached on a single. (Paul swiped second anyway). It looked like Atkins was afraid to throw the ball to the plate. Atkins has looked uncomfortable all Spring Training, like he doesn’t believe he belongs in big league camp (and he probably won't have to worry about that much longer).

Down 3-1, the Cubs narrowed the gap again to one run in the bottom of the 7th. Joey Gathright reached on an E-4, as second-baseman Juan Castro appeared to juggle the ball in fear he might not get Gathright if he didn’t hurry his throw. (Gathright does that to infielders). Gathright then stole second (although a good throw probably would have nailed him), and advanced to 3rd on the overthrow by Dodger catcher Danny Ardoin. (Gathright is VERY fast, but he doesn’t appear to get good jumps on stolen base attempts). Gathright then scored on a GO RBI by Aaron Miles.

Rookie RHP Jeff Stevens (one of the pitchers acquired from the Indians for Mark DeRosa) took the mound to start the 8th, and he was just plain terrible. He couldn’t find the strike zone (27 pitches – only nine strikes), and when he did throw the ball over the plate, he gave up a couple of laser-beam doubles, one of which was a two-run two-bagger roped into the RF corner by ace PH Delwyn Young. Stevens was yanked by Manager Lou Piniella with two runs in and the bases loaded, and Randy Wells immediately got out of the jam on just four pitches. I doubt that Uncle Lou has been much impressed by Stevens so far this Spring.

NRI RHRP Brian Schlitter (acquired from the Phillies last August for Scott Eyre) worked an uneventful the 9th (11 pitches), allowing a walk. Schlitter (pronounced "Sklitter" not "Shitter") will likely compete with Marcos Mateo for the closer job at AA Tennessee.

Down 5-2, the Cubs tried to rally the forces in the bottom of the 9th against ex-Cub RHP Tanyon Sturtze. Gathright walked, and advanced to second on a ground out. Miles drove in Gathright with an RBI single, and then with two outs, PH Doug Deeds laced an RBI double into left-center, splitting the gap and driving home Miles.

With two outs and the tying run on second base, southpaw Brian Mazone was summoned to face the dangerous (but strikeout-prone) Brad Snyder, and the lefty-swinging Snyder did indeed strike out (swinging – swish!) to end the game.

The Cubs travel to Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix (51st Avenue & Indian School Road) tomorrow to face the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that will be televised for all to see on WGN-TV.

Comments

Another excellent report, thanks, AZ. Generic question: Any big surprises for you in camp yet?

Zambrano pitches today.

The Bruce Levine Talking Baseball show has been expanded to 3 hours (9am-noon, saturdays). DLee was interviewed today. He said he told Milton Bradley not to fight the media or the fans in Chicago because it's a losing battle.

if you're listening live (aren't we all hoping for that?) here's the link:

http://stations.espn.go.com/stations/espnradio1000...

Will Carroll's notes on Cubs and former Cubs:

Rich Harden is making progress, and while I'm still not expecting 200 innings from him, I think that expecting something similar to last season's performance is very reasonable. ... Adam Miller has been shut down for ten days while his finger heals. Ever wonder if he and Kerry Wood just look at each other and don't even have to say a word? ... An MRI already on Rich Hill? Bad sign, especially that it's his elbow now. ...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

Remember tonight is the former of "spring forward, fall back"

CKarhl's (Baseball Prospectus) review of the Cubs off-season:

Well, maybe they will, and maybe they won't, but we're still projecting a handy victory in the NL Central for the Cubs, currently averaging 94 wins in our million-simulation run of 2009 to the Brewers' 85, the widest spread between first and second place in any of the six divisions.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

Randy Wells had four appearances with the Cubs last season in which he didn't yield a hit. Now it's status quo during spring training. Lou must be beginning to like this guy.

Thanks for the pronunciation help on "Sklitter." That sounds much better. I always thought that if Felix had rhymed his last name with "sky" he would have done better. You're not in Haiti any more.

Recent comments

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  • ...and the Bryant RBI jinx continues in the 3rd....crap.

    billybucks 33 min 24 sec ago view
  • bryant's in the dugout filling a police report BECAUSE HE JUST GOT ROBBED.

    f'n cabrerra...

    crunch 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • chapman showing up and available tomorrow night.

    i'm sure he'll be a bit hit. hope he doesn't choke. dude has a rifle for an arm. he'll add a bit of punch to the bullpen.

    crunch 1 hour 11 min ago view
  • the 'crosstown classic' sure has lost it's magic with interleague. the excitement level is barely noticable...maybe it's a bit more hype in the city, itself.

    crunch 1 hour 16 min ago view
  • Well he didn't leave a mark so its not that bad.

    Fuck that.

    Facts:

    He choked her.

    Her brother tackled him to separate him.

    He cooled off by shooting his gun in the garage.

    I don't have to like him on the team I follow.

    And you are others are free to not give a shit about his personal misgivings if you so choose as well.

     

     

    Rob G. 1 hour 35 min ago view
  • Sure, no marks and some inconsistencies in the witness's statements. But firing your gun into garage wall immediately after an argument and punching out your car window is still threatening and out of control behavior. There was certainly enough for MLB to think it warranted a 30-game suspension.

    Charlie 2 hours 46 min ago view
  • I'd prefer they be flexible with the closing situation depending on matchups. You're not really adding a lefty reliever if you use him strictly as a closer.

    Charlie 2 hours 46 min ago view
  • Stockpiling young talent isn't only for trading for someone like Chapman though. Even with an elite closer winning the World Series is basically a crap shoot so the key is to get to the playoffs as much as possible and not just mortgage everything on one year. Once you get there an elite bullpen certainly helps but the playoffs can be won by one hitter or starting pitcher getting hot (Murphy, Molina, Baumgardner) and a closer might not be able to stop that.

    johann 3 hours 11 min ago view
  • I'm also not crazy about press convictions. As the police report noted, there were no marks on the lady in question. There's a TMZ link (of course) to her police pictures, as well.

    I think the only way this trade goes real bad is if Cubbery intervenes and Chapman is suddenly bad for some reason.

    Old and Blue 3 hours 14 min ago view
  • I am right there with you closing in on 60.

    I don't care that much about "mortgaging" one player who is not only blocked by two guys, but is not ready to hit the majors for at least a couple years.

    There is no reason why this team, this year, can't have a real shot at something NONE of us have experienced.

    Further, I don't feel that even if they fall short that they have ruined their farm system.

    I have made my opinion clear here, with others, Warren was shit on the Cubs save one spot start.

    The E-Man 4 hours 44 min ago view
  • Trading for Warren, Warren sucking, getting Warren back for Chapman plus 3 prospects, sounds like Revenge of The Yankees on the former Boston executive. Old rivalries never die.

    I pray to the heavens above Chapman doesn't suck for some reason, or he'll be booed out of town faster than a Todd Hundley revival meeting.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 51 min ago view
  • I'm kind of nostalgic for the Schwarber-for-Miller rumors.

    Brick 5 hours 3 min ago view
  • This offseason, after some ridiculous playoff run and Chapman saving every game from here until the end of the postseason striking out 27/9innings, I welcome anyone to quote this thread and call me a dummy: I hate this trade, and my hate is 2 parts Chapman makes this team less likeable and 1 part that's a ridiculous overpay for 30 regular season innings and, at tops, 10 postseason innings. Already hoping they don't extend him.

    Charlie 5 hours 5 min ago view
  • btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.

    Cubster 5 hours 27 min ago view
  • I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.

    Cubster 5 hours 28 min ago view
  • Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.

    billybucks 5 hours 36 min ago view