Body Snatchers Doom Cubs

Torii Hunter crushed a lead-off first-pitch home run to ignite a seven-run 4th inning, propelling the Angels to an 8-4 victory over the Cubs at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in Mesa, as the Cubs set an all-time single-season Cactus League attendance record. (It probably helped that the 2009 Cactus League season was extended by a week and a few extra home games to accomodate the WBC).   

box score

Sean Marshall started for the Cubs, and breezed through the first three innings, allowing one run on two hits, a walk, and a wild pitch, while striking out five (fanning four out of five batters at one point)  The run scored as the result of a Marshall wild pitch on strike three to Angels lead-off hitter Chone Figgins in the top of the 1st, who then advanced around the diamond on a walk and two ground outs.

But when Marshall took the mound to start the 4th, it was as if he was suddenly a completely different pitcher. After allowing just one run on 43 pitches (30 strikes) through three innings and looking sharp in the process, Marshall threw 28 pitches (only 14 strikes) while allowing seven runs on six hits (including two doubles and a home run) and a walk (pitcher Nick Adenhart on five pitches) in the inning, while retiring only one batter.  

Torii Hunter crushed the first pitch of the inning for a long home run, the ball sailing over the LF fence to the base of the scoreboard. Kendry Morales then doubled off the LF fence (a near HR), and Maicer Izturis grounded a single to right, advancing Morales to 3rd. Jeff Mathis then doubled into the LF corner to score Morales with the second run of the inning, sending Izuris to 3rd.

With pitcher Nick Adenhart due up, Marshall had a chance to stem the tide and perhaps turn the inning around, but the Cub lefty walked Adenhart on five pitches to load the bases, thus proving to all but the most skeptical faces in the crowd that he must have been possessed by an alien life-form between the 3rd and 4th innings, probably a vegetable pod.

Chone Figgins was the next hitter, and he slapped a two-run RBI single to center to score Morales and Izturis, as Adenhart advanced to 2nd. With David Patton hurriedly getting ready in the bullpen, Marshall finally got an out (Howie Kendrick hit into a FC), but Bobby Abreu sliced a single to left to score Adenhart and move Kendrick up a base.

The Abreu RBI single was Pitch #28 in the inning, and so Marshall was yanked from the game, as Rule 5 RHP David Patton took the mound. Patton is competing for one of the two open jobs in the bullpen, and cannot afford to fail when given an opportunity to show that he has what it takes to "put out a fire."

Patton came into the game firing strikes (as per usual), but unfortunately the first two hitters he faced (Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter) weren't too impressed, driving consecutive RBI singles to the outfield, as both inherited runners scored (both runs were charged to Marshall). 

Patton then retired the next five men he faced (including three of the five on strikeouts), but the damage was done. For the day, Patton worked 1.2 IP (22 pitches - 15 strikes), allowing no runs of his own, but allowing the two inherited runners to score,

The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the 4th versus Angels starter Nick Adenhart (who went 6.2 IP today, BTW), when Derrek Lee smacked a one-out double to left-center (and showed no apparent ill effects from the quad problem that's been bothering him for three weeks) and scored on a two-out RBI single hammered through the box by Aramis Ramirez. Mike Fontenot followed with an almost identical single chopped over second base, and Geovany Soto worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Ryan Theriot. But The Riot rolled out weakly to 1st base (3-U) to terminate the inning with just one run scored and the Cubs down 8-1.

The Cubs scored another run in the bottom of the 5th, when Kosuke Fukudome hammered a two-out triple into the right-centerfield alley, and scored on another double by D-Lee, this one roped into the LF corner. (Lee smoked three hard-hit line drives in three ABs today, resulting in two doubles and a single).

The Cubs finished their scoring in the bottom of the 8th against Angels reliever Scott Shields, as PH Aaron Miles lined a double down the RF line, and scored on a Micah Hoffpauir towering HR that landed beyond the upper (visitor's) bullpen beyond the RF fence.

Aaron Heilman, Luis Vizcaino, Chad Fox, and Kevin Gregg followed Patton to the hill, each throwing one inning of shutout ball in innings 6-7-8-9.

Heilman gave up a harmless one-out single in his inning, throwing 18 pitches (11 strikes) with a 1/2 GO/FO, and Vizcaino labored through a lengthy top of the 7th, loading the bases on a double and two walks, but getting out the jam with two clutch strikeouts and a 6-3 GO. Vizcaino took a lot of time between pitches once he had a baserunner, and ultimately needed 33 pitches to get out of the inning (he threw 15 balls and 18 strikes in the inning).  

Chad Fox worked the 8th, and allowed a walk (he threw 22 pitches, including nine balls and 13 strikes), and he also gave up several "loud" outs and line drive fouls, but he did survive with no real damage.

And then Kevin Gregg worked an impressive 1-2-3 9th, striking out the side on 16 pitches.   

The Cubs generally looked listless today, not only at the plate and on the mound, but also on the bases. Kosuke Fukudome got picked off 1st base by Angels catcher Jeff Mathis after rapping a single to left-center with one out in the bottom of the 1st inning (Kosuke appeared to beat the throw, but it looked like he tripped over the bag and fell off the base), and Ryan Theuiot was picked off 1st base (and he was out by a mile, too) by pitcher Nick Adenhart when he tried to get an extended secondary lead with Sean Marshall at bat in a bunt situation with no outs in the bottom of the 3rd.

The Cubs play the Oakland A's tomorrow at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 

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Comments

AZ Phil didn't mention Samjargia, probably doesn't like him.

On a serious note, what did you make of the pickoffs? bad baserunning or nice defense?

Submitted by Bud on Tue, 03/31/2009 - 8:12pm.
On a serious note, what did you make of the pickoffs? bad baserunning or nice defense?

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BUD: Bad baserunning. Kosuke was slow ro react and then stepped on the bag awkwardly & off-balance while trying to avoid the tag, and Theriot was overly aggressive trying to get a secondary lead on a bunt play and got hung out to dry.

I was at the game, too. So I'd add, good defense, too -- that rookie pitcher seemed to have a nice pickoff move. Fuku's thing wasn't a baserunning gaffe it was just an athletic fart, like a wide receiver tripping on the field. I would put that one in the "shit happens" category. Theriot was hung up but it was still a good play, but he never stood a chance.

Phil, can you give us a scouting report on Gregg? I think most of us here were very unimpressed with the trade that brought him over, but it sounds like he may surprise us.

Submitted by Little Nate Lewis on Tue, 03/31/2009 - 8:44pm.
Phil, can you give us a scouting report on Gregg? I think most of us here were very unimpressed with the trade that brought him over, but it sounds like he may surprise us.

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LITTLE NATE: 92-94 MPH fastball, a slider, and a splitter. He seems to have the right stuff to get both RH and LH hitters out. He also has a chronic problem with tendinitis in his left knee, so he may not be able to pitch more than one inning per outing, and may not be able to work more than two days in a row. He possibly could go on the DL at some point during the seasion if it flares up.

Sorry for the hijack.

Cutler will be traded-

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=cr-bowlencut...

we got Kyle Orton, who needs a good QB?

I dont want a woman to be my team's QB. The guy really needs to grow a pair and stop worrying whether the team is fully comitted to him or not. I'd bet Cutler never leads a team to a conference championship game, yet alone a Super Bowl.

How can you not want a guy from a town named "Santa Claus"?

If you are serious, and have 10-12 years to wait around on a bet, I'll take that in a heart beat.

While I will watch the Bears like the turd I am on every Sunday in the fall (unless the Cubs are on), Cutler making the team would at least make me interested in watching over just being a couch potato.

A few observations from my 3 day spring training visit, if anybody cares:

We all know Hoffpauir can hit, but he had a nice fielding day at first yesterday, and although not much came his way in right today he looked okay when I saw him make one catch. He didn't have to move much and just had to fight the sun, but that wouldn't stop Adam Dunn from somehow moving to the wrong part of the field and then dropping the ball. Yes, for some reason I was sort of under the impression Hoffpower was Adam Dunn-like in the field. And although he's not, umm, graceful, he does field his position cleanly as far as I can tell. Today he was in right and there was one ball hit out there that a faster guy would have gotten to, but he'll never learn speed so there's no way he'd ever get to a ball like that.

I saw a bit of Gathright, and after watching him a bit I'm no longer in the "he's this year's Neifi Perez" camp. He's not completely idiotic at the plate and he seems to be an amazing fielder, based on a VERY small, beer-influenced sample size.

I never noticed before but Ryan Theriot likes to pretend he's batting while waiting on deck. He took ball four today before walking up to the plate. It's hysterical but it makes you realize how seriously he takes his job and how difficult this game is to play.

Even if Milton Bradley is criminally insane, if he stays healthy, I'm happy. My internet connection at the hotel is bad so I haven't checked the box score but I think he got a hit every time at the plate yesterday. The dude can rake.

Some minor leaguer came up to the plate late in the game yesterday and looked just terrible. I was thinking, "what a weak assed swing this guy's got." He then proceeded to tie the game with a rope down the right field line. I *think* it tied the game. If not, it was a key hit at the time.

Fukodome's first hit today was the kind of thing he corkscrewed into late last year, but today he just met the ball with his bat like he did the first month or so last year. It was (I think) an off speed pitch a little outside and last year he would have tried to pull it down the line while drilling himself half way to China. He looked real good today. Another solid hit he got, same story. Late last year that pitch would have been a disaster.

For yesterday's game in Surprise, AZ I sat right behind home plate and I counted 15 scouts in front of me. They took up the first 4 or 5 rows. They seemed most interested in Hoffpauir. I hope that doesn't mean anything. They also seemed very interested in Harden, which is weird cuz I can't imagine he's trade bait. Maybe they were all trying to figure out why he suddenly can't get past 91 on the gun. His fastball was dead yesterday, too. Usually it sort of snaps in at the end but yesterday it seemed flat. Marmol, on the other hand, was a joy to behold. Watching his stuff yesterday was almost like watching a knuckleballer on steroids. The slider comes smoking in and then has insane movement just before it hits the catcher's mitt. I know you all know that but seeing it five or six rows back of the home plate just left me speechless.

That's about it. I'm not much of an expert, just a hard core suffering fan who reads this site for the expertise and the occasional laugh.

Thanks for the observations, O&B...while AZ Phil is clearly the Godfather of Spring Training, I think it's always good to get reports from as many sets of eyes as possible.

Also FWIW being able to sit right behind home plate, no other perspective comes close. I got to see a Cubs-Pads game at the Murph from the 4th row, first seat left of center, back in 82 or 83. Best seat I'll ever have. First off, Terry Kennedy (Pads catcher at the time) was huge...looked like a 16-year old playing with 12-year olds. And seeing the movement of the pitches really was awesome. Even hearing the difference in sound as a pitch hit the mitt.

I also remember the National Anthem. With all the current and former military in the area, it was the most heartfelt version I've ever heard. Rosanne Barr picked the wrong f'in crowd to do her clown version whenever that was.

I was reluctant to even post something because AZ Phil is da man, but hey, had to say SOMETHING. Ya, the sound of ball hitting the catcher's mitt is quite a bit different when Harden is pitching than it is when Marshall is pitching. That's not a knock on Marshall of course, just a different style of pitching. I never understood the Roseanne thing. It seemed to me to be on purpose. And then laughing after fucking up? I'm a pretty hard core lefty but I just can't imagine doing something like that, especially in a place like San Diego where you KNOW there are a bunch of people who have put their lives on the line for us. Laughing? Ugh, it showed no respect for those vets.

An encouraging passage in this post:
"Fukudome...after rapping a single to left center..."

Piniella pointed out yesterday that K-Fuk has to start hitting the ball to the opposite field, i.e., not pulling off every pitch, or he is going to be K-Fuk'd. (My paraphrasing.)

Thanks as always, Phil.

I always thought that was supposed to be one of Fukodome's strengths -- hitting to the opposite field. Today he just went with the pitch and didn't try to pull the ball. I don't really understand why someone who clearly CAN do that, suddenly doesn't.

Well Cubnut, all I can say is you and Lou need to look at Fukudome's hitting charts from last year. He is the quintessential "hits to all fields" type guy.

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/stats/individual_playe...

That just makes it more maddening. It was obvious on a lot of his second half swings he was trying to pull shit he shouldn't have been trying to pull. Still, that's a nice stat for us all to see because it shows maybe we're all freaked out about nothing. Today he looked like Pete Rose.

While your data is correct, all those nasty swings and misses due to swinging from his ass while he's stepping the bucket do not show up on your chart.

When he makes contact he does spreads the ball. He'd make more contact if he'd stay back on his left foot and wait on the baseball.

Word. A pretty good batting instructor told my HS player - 'Eyes, hands, hips. And the feet have to be planted before the ball gets to the plate'.

Look at his flyout chart though.

Navigator,

I can't speak for Lou, but I did look at the charts before making the comment, and while he's not a dead pull hitter, his base-hits were overwhelmingly to the right-field side of second base. I don't see that as a true "hits to all fields" guy. The way he pulled off the ball last season is reflected in that hit pattern.

I caught a few minutes of the Baseball Tonight Dempster a few minutes ago. He didn't appear to be high, which was the first thing I listened for.

What I did find entertaining, however, was his analysis of the Cardinal closer, Jason Motte. He essentially commented on how Motte was tough to hit, citing movement as the culprit.

Maybe I should have reconsidered taking Beltran in the second round...

That entire show was nothing but Ravich going ape shit over the Cardinals. It was pathetic.

Except for the 'sanctity of the clubhouse' argument - which I understand, it's been 5 years so why not own up to who ever did it (unless the person insists on not being identified).

Besides, anybody who saw Sosa's 'act' up close like I did for 7 years of ST - who cares. Sammy said and says a lot of things but it was pretty obvious that Baker and Baylor had rules for 24 guys and rules for Sammy.

It had to be Wood.

The only part Bako might have played was he was too slow to get out of the way of a flying Salsa CD that shot out of the box when it was hit.

No TCR shenanigans? I'm disappointed.

I'm still sponsored by Apple

"he seems to be an amazing fielder, based on a VERY small, beer-influenced sample size."

This is GREAT!

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