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).
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.
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
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.