Cubs Roll a Seven in the One to Thump Sox
The Cubs scored seven runs in the bottom of the 1st, and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox this afternoon at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa, in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 13,327, a game that I'm sure many of you watched on WGN-TV.
The bats were hot right from the gitgo this afternoon, as the Cubs racked-up a seven spot in the 1st off White Sox starter LHP Clayton Richard, who REALLY had a bad day.
Alfonso Soriano lined a single to right to start the inning, and then Kosuke Fukudome celebrated his return to the Cubs with a line single to CF. Derrek Lee then lined a single to left to score Soriano and send Fukudome to 3rd, Milton Bradley walked to load the bases, and then Aramis Ramirez bounced into an RBI 5-4 FC. Aaron Miles grounded an RBI single to the right of second baseman Chris Getz to score D-Lee, and then Ryan Theriot walked to re-load the bases. Koyie Hill bounced a double down the LF line to plate Ramirez and Miles, and that finished Richard.
RHP D. J. Carrasco relieved Richard, and Carlos Zambrano drove in Theriot from 3rd on a 6-3 GO (K. Hill holding 2nd), and then Soriano finished the scoring with his second hit of the inning, a pop fly down the line in RF that bounced off the rock-hard field and up & over the retaining wall in foul territory for an RBI ground rule double.
After Carrasco struck out Fukdome, Lee, Bradley, and Ramirez in succession, the Cubs mounted another rally in the bottom of the 3rd. Miles and Theriot singled to start the inning, and Koyie Hill walked to load the bases. Zambrano then bounced a one-hopper to 1st baseman Josh Kroeger, who threw to 2nd to get a force-out, but Sox SS Alexei Ramirez's relay sailed past 1st base, allowing both runners to score (one RBI for "Z").
Zambrano started for the Cubs and went six innings (90 pitches - 50 strikes, 4/11 GO/FO), and had a problem in only one of the innings, that being the top of the 4th, when he threw 36 pitches (and only 18 strikes). He had hustled to beat the throw to 1st on his RBI FC in the previous half-inning (bottom of the 3rd), and he appeared to be dropping his arm when he started to work in the 4th.
Zambrano had difficulty throwing strikes throughout the inning, (he had thrown only 29 pitches through the first three innings combined), eventually allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, the key hit being a two-out bases-loaded double by Josh Fields that bounced off the warning track and over the fence for a double, after CF Fukudome appeared to lose the ball in the sun.
But "Z" righted the ship in the 5th, retiring the last six hitters without much trouble. For the day he allowed two runs (both earned) on six hits and a walk, while striking out three.
On the bubble, out of options, and competing fiercely for a spot on the 25-man roster, Angel Guzman took the mound in the 7th. He had good moments and bad moments, the worst one being a no-doubt-about-it opposite field solo home run with one out by Brian Anderson that landed in the upper (visitors) bullpen. He also allowed a broken bat single, and had to throw 25 pitches to get out of the inning. But he did strike out the last two hitters (Brent Lillibridge and Carlos Quentin), and he generally threw strikes (19 of his 25 pitches).
So based upon his outing today, Guzman did not pitch well enough to insure himself a spot on the Opening Day roster, but neither did he pitch badly enough to eliminate himself from consideration.
Luis Vizcaino threw a 1-2-3 eight-pitch 8th (K, PO, FO), Mike Stanton got the first out in the 9th (striking out LH hitter Josh Kroeger), and then Chad Fox finished up, getting the final two outs while allowing one run, thanks to two doubles to RF sandwiched around a strike out, before inducing Lillibridge to line-out sharply to Brad Snyder in RF to end the game.
The other battle in progress is for the back-up catcher gig, and both candidates saw action today. Koyie Hill got the start and played the first five innings, going 1-2 at the plate (RBI bases loaded double, a walk, and a 5-3 GO), while also allowing a passed ball. Bako played the last four innings, and went 0-1 (3-1 GO). Neither player did anything overtly stupid.
The Cubs travel to Hi Corbett Field in Tucson tomorrow, and will face the Colorado Rockies.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.