Cubs Flush Royals at HoHoKam

Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run home run, Mike Fontenot drove in two runs with a homer and a double, So Taguchi drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, Joey Gathright scored three runs and drove in one, and Derrek Lee had an RBI double, as the Cubs drubbed the Kansas City Royals 9-1 in afternoon Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, before 8,987 fans under overcast skies and in mid-60's temperatures

box score

The Cubs got off to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st off Royals starter Brian Bannister, as Mike Fontenot walked with one out and scored on a Derrek Lee RBI double roped to left-center.

The Cubs scored three more in the bottom of the 2nd. Micah Hoffpauir pulled a line single to right, was sacrificed to 2nd base by Aaron Miles on a pretty 1-3 SH, advanced to 3rd on a ground out, and scored on an RBI single to center by Joey Gathright. With Royals pitcher Bannister somewhat distracted by Gathright breaking off 1st, Alfonso Soriano took the opportunity to drive a home run far over the LF fence to the base of the scoreboard, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead.

After the Royals scored in the 3rd, the Cubs put another run on the board in the bottom of the 4th, Gathright reached base on a 4-6 FC following a lead-off single by Miles, and advanced to second when new Royals pitcher Jamey Wright overthrew 1st base on a pick-off attempt. Gathright then came around to score on a two-out opposite-field near-HR double sliced off the left-centerfield wall by Fontenot.

Fontenot hit a solo HR over the rightfield fence leading off the bottom of the 7th to put the Cubs up 6-1, and then the Cubs really broke the game open in the bottom of the 8th, scoring their final three runs off ex-Cub Kyle Farnsworth.

With one out, Aaron Miles and Paul Bako blooped singles to the outfield, and Gathright drew a walk. So Taguchi then smoked a liner to the wall in left-center, driving in all three runners, and giving the Cubs a 9-1 lead. 

In addition to the various scoring scenarios, Micah Hoffpauir had two hits, the 2nd inning single and then a two-out opposite-field double in the bottom of the 5th that just missed going out over the left-centerfield fence. (Hoffpauir was left stranded).

While the Cubs offense was unusually productive today, the pitching was just as good. 

RHP Chad Gaudin got the start, and had his best outing of the Spring. He worked two shutout innings (28 pitches - 17 strikes, 3/2 GO/FO), allowing just one harmless single, (rubbed out by a nifty 4-6-3 DP turn), with no walks and one strikeout (Willie Bloomquist)  

Jeff Samardzija entered the game in the top of the 3rd, and had a solid outing. The Shark  did allow a run on two singles and a wild pitch in the 3rd (when he needed to throw 23 pitches to get out of the inning), but then he settled down and got through the next two innings on just 17 pitches (combined), retiring the last seven batters he faced, and putting up a final line of 3.0 IP, 2 H,1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. and 1 WP,.40 pitches - 28 strikes, 5/2 GO/FO.

Kevin Gregg worked a 1-2-3 6th (two ground outs and a strikeout-swinging), throwing 16 pitches (nine strikes).

LHP Jason Waddell pitched the 7th and had another fine outing, racking up a couple of strikeouts (including lefty swingers Shane Costa and Mike Jacobs), while allowing just one harmless single to right-handed swinging DH Billy Butler, before retiring another lefty hitter (Alex Gordon) on an infield pop up. Waddell once again worked EXTREMELY fast, almost "quick-pitching" the KC hitters. He remains in the running for a possible bullpen job in Chicago, although he is still a "long-shot." But at least he appears to be claiming the #1 lefty bullpen job at AAA Iowa, while making a very favorable impression on Manager Lou Piniella and Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild.

Esmailin Caridad had a nine-pitch (seven strikes) 1-2-3 8th (an infield pop up and two 1-3 comebackers to the mound), and Randy Wells got through the 9th on only seven pitches in still,another 1-2-3 inning (a 4-3 GO, a 6-3 GO, and an L-7). And Caridad broke a couple of bats in his inning of work.

Defensively, Mike Fontenot made an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch in short-RF in the top of the 1st inning, and Aaron Miles made a couple of nice plays, one deep in the hole at SS, and then another really nice back-handed stop & throw from behind the third base bag. (He started the game at SS, and then moved to 3B). Miles showed he has PLENTY of arm from both deep in the hole at SS and from behind the 3B bag. It would appear he is perfectly capable of being the #1 back-up at both SS and 3B, although I certainly wouldn't say he is an upgrade over Mark DeRosa as a possible long-term Plan "B" at 3B should something bad happen to Aramis Ramirez in 2009. (I still wish the Cubs hadn't traded DeRosa, especially since it turned out that trading DeRo had no connection to the Cubs acquiring Jake Peavy).

The Cubs will travel to Peoria tommorow to play the Seattle Mariners, before the club gets a rare day off on Wednesday.

Team Japan (featuring the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, Kosuke Fukudome, Kenji Johjima, and Daisuke Matsuzaka) will play the Cubs at HoHoKam on Thursday, in preparation for the start of the WBC semi-finals in San Diego on Sunday. It should be interesting to see so many high-quality Japanese players together on the same team. I'm looking forward to it!

Comments

<p> Netherlands pitcher deflects a sure double play...bases now loaded with 1 out instead. </p>

didnt score on wild pitch nice tension for a March baseball game

Ryan Theriot at third base or something, ball gets away and he stays at third.

pop up made looked hard

Holy shit they got out of the bases loaded one out situation. 1-0 Dutch masters.

Today could be the day of untelevised upsets in the WBC. Italy beating Canada 5-2 in the 7th, the Netherlands beating Puerto Rico 1-0 in the 8th, Korea beat Japan 1-0 early this morning. Watch out, Mexico.

Netherlands/Puerto Rico is on MLB Network, isn't it?

Okay. Untelevised for those of us still on basic cable who don't get ESPN Deportes or MLB Network.

yes...and i can't believe this SHIT netherlands pitching is unscored upon. some of these kids marched out tonight (besides literally being kids...one dude was 19) would have a hard time making a AAA roster.

PR just took the lead, barring a 9th inning comeback, Netherlands will lose.

The WCC championship game is on. Patty Mills and the St. Mary's Gaels. Come on guys watch something cool at least! (jealous I don't have MLB Network/Deportes)

Luckily both were on MLB.com, and I already purchased access for the non-WGN Cubs games this summer. Both were pretty good games, especially for March.

Corey Koskie, your flight to Phoenix departs in an hour...

I say the Cubs send AZ Phil to the Netherlands for some scouting.

In an unsurprising turn of events Mexico beat South Africa 14-3. Adrian Gonzalez hit two 2-run HR's & a 2B with 6 RBI. Ex-Cub Factor is in effect - Jerry Hairston 1-3 2BB 2R & Augie Ojeda 0-4 with a BB. By my count, RSA has exactly one affiliated player, and that's Mariners Hi-A SS Anthony Phillips. Here's your clear sign of their talent level - career 1.42 WHIP Elmer Dessens, who is close to 3 BB/9, got through a FULL SIX INNINGS while staying under the 70 pitch limit.

AZ, thanks for the positive words about Miles. I'm about half sick and tired of all these yahoos comparing him to Neifi. Last time I checked, Crusty is in Cincy. In Lou and Jim I trust.

I have no problem whatsoever with Miles being the primary back-up. Here are the lines so far in ST: Fontenot: .367/.406/.800 (30 AB) Miles: .222/.276/.222 (27 AB) I think we can stop the "400 ABs for Miles" silliness now. On an unrelated note, I have a daily desktop Cubs calendar, and the Cubs fact for yesterday read: "In between games of a Memorial Day doubleheader at Cubs Park in 1922, Chicago and St. Louis traded outfielders. The two players, Max Flack (1916-22) and Cliff Heathcote (1922-32) simply switched uniforms and ended up playing for two different clubs in a single day." How wild is that?

Totally agree Miles has a career line of 289/329/364 OPS of .693 Neifi had a career line of 267/297/375 OPS of .672 Obviously these guys are night and day difference!!!! Not to mention the grit,scrap,hustle and fundamental soundness that Miles brings to the table on top of everything else. What a sparkplug!!!

Neifi was actually a real good defensive player too...not sure you can say that about Miles.

Neifi wasn't ever coming off a year with a 99 OPS+, either. In fact, if you're curious what that was, it was a 75 when he was a Cub in 2005 - 274/298/383.

The thing to keep in mind is that (assuming Lou doesn't lose his marbles and actually try and get Miles 400 ABs) we didn't trade DeRo's numbers for Miles' numbers, we traded DeRo's numbers for Fontenot's numbers, and since DeRosa had a career year last season, that shakes out to be: DeRosa - .285/.376/.481 (.857 OPS in 505 ABs at 33 yrs old) Fontee - .305/.395/.514 (.909 OPS in 243 ABs at 27 yrs old) Barring injury, Miles should be a true back-up, and we used the savings from trading DeRosa to also improve RF by getting Bradley. If we were ever going to give Fontenot a chance to play regularly, this would be the season. I will go to my grave thinking that when the DeRosa trade was made, Hendry thought he could still get the Peavy deal done. He just had too many balls in the air at once... trading DeRosa away won't make or break us, but it sure makes a lot more sense in the context of getting PV...

I'd take Derosa over Fontenot any day of the week, including Sunday.

IMO, the only thing DeRosa has going over Fontenot is versatility. You can write it down now - DeRosa will NEVER match the numbers he put up last season again. I'd rather have Fontenot at 2B and Bradley in RF than DeRosa at 2B and Fukudome in RF, to be sure...

"I'd rather have Fontenot at 2B and Bradley in RF than DeRosa at 2B and Fukudome in RF, to be sure..." Well, esentially you're replacing Pie with Bradley (since Fuku appears he's going go get most of the starts in center). So, obviously that's a not a choice at all. I'd rather have DeRosa AND Bradley w/Fonte coming off the bench (instead of Miles) and that was possible, except management wanted to spend 2 M on Miles instead of 6 M on DeRosa. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 4 million dollars to the Cubs organization is nothing. Don't play the "save money" card if you're the Cubs. I refuse to buy it. "Let's throw 800K at Joey Gathright even if he gets cut" nonsense tells me otherwise.

I would argue that it wasn't 4 million dollars at the time DeRosa was traded, though - I assume we were still in heavy dealings to get Peavy here, and that would have been a lot bigger contract to take on. In that context, along with Fontenot's upside versus the gamble that DeRosa could repeat his career year at 34, I can see why DeRosa was traded. Since we didn't get Peavy, the whole DeRosa trade seems a little silly...

"we used the savings from trading DeRosa to also improve RF by getting Bradley." Last year Cub rightfielders scored 100 Runs and drove in 71 if I recall correctly. I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that DH Bradley won't match that in RF this year.

I'm assuming you used the stats for all 162 games started by Cubs players in RF last season to get the 100 runs and 71 RBI If so, it's not at all a stretch to think that Cubs RFs this season can exceed those totals, especially if Bradley plays 120 games.

AZ Phil......Will you be venturing over to Fitch to check on the minor leagers who started workouts today? Do they post the rosters and the spring schedules in the clubhouse? Any info you post is greatly appreciated.

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