Five Cub Home Runs Doom A's
Tyler Colvin went 3-3 with two doubles and a solo HR, Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd singled and homered, Sam Fuld blasted a two-run home run, Brad Snyder ripped a 450+ foot solo HR, Kosuke Fukudome doubled and singled, Starlin Castro tripled, and five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs drubbed the Oakland A's 9-3 in front of 7,496 fans at the 2010 Cubs Cactus League Opener at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & breezy Mesa this afternoon.
RHP Randy Wells got the Cactus League Opening Day start for the Cubs, and worked two perfect innings (26 pitches - 17 strikes, 4/0 GO/FO), retiring four of the six hitters he faced on easy grounders while striking out the other two (Daric Barton and Gabe Gross).
Meanwhile, Derrek Lee followed yesterday's BP Home Run Derby show with a towering solo home run to left-centerfield off A's starter Trevor Cahill with two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning to put the Cubs on the board.
The Cubs added another run in the bottom of the second, as Marlon Byrd led-off with a line single to CF and Tyler Colvin laced a line-drive double (off a LHP) into the left-centerfield power alley. Mike Fontenot than hit a sac-fly to deep LF to score Byrd from third, although A's LF Rajai Davis threw Colvin out in a bang-bang play as Colvin tried to advance from 2nd to 3rd on the play. (A very questionable call by the 3rd base umpire)
LHP Sean Marshall followed Randy Wells to the mound, and was nearly as good as Wells. Marshall threw two hitless/shutout innings (24 pitches - 16 strikes, 3/2 GO/FO), allowing just a walk and a WP, while striking out one. Although he did not start the game, Marshall throwing two innings keeps him in-line for getting stretched-out enough during Spring Training to get a legitimate shot at the 5th starter's job or as Ted Lilly's temporary replacement, should the Cubs wish to go that route.
The Cubs added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th, as Byrd led-off the inning with a HR off A's reliever Clayton Mortensen just to the left of the center field Green Monster batter's eye, and Colvin followed with a rope-double over the right-fielder's head. Fontenot walked, and then Geovany Soto lined a single down the LF line, scoring Colvin. However, Fontenot was thrown out 7-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on the play.
RHP Mike Parisi (selected from the St Louis Cardinals in last December's Rule 5 Draft) worked the 5th and 6th innings, and did not pitch badly (24 pitches - 13 strikes, 4/0 GO/FO). He did allow a one-out Adam Rosales HR to LF in his first inning (the 5th), but struck out the last two men he faced in his second inning of work (top of the 6th). Like Marshall, throwing two innings in his first outing puts Parisi on track to compete for a job in the 2010 Cubs starting rotation, or he could claim a job in the bullpen if there is no room for him in the rotation.
While both were Rule 5 guys, Parisi is in a different situation than David Patton was this time last year. Patton was more of a long-term investment and was clearly not ready for MLB last season, while Parisi had two full years of AAA under his belt before blowing out his elbow and undergoing Tommy John Surgery post-2008. Parisi then missed most of the 2009 season while rehabbing from the TJS, before the Cards assigned him to the Surprise Rafters in the AFL in October, where he was one of the better starting pitchers in the AFL. So I doubt that the Cubs will try to finesse Parisi through the 2010 season as they did with Patton last year (like when Patton was placed on the DL and then sent to the minors on a 30-day rehab assignment to get work). Parisi might get a longer look in Spring Training than other pitchers who have options available, but he will have to make the Cubs Opening Day 12-man pitching staff by pitching well in Spring Training. If he gets clearly outpitched by others during the course of Spring Training, the Cubs will cut him with no second thoughts.
The Cubs added single runs in the 5th and 6th. Kosuke Fukudome grounded a single to deep short with one out in the 5th (Fukudome had doubled over the center-fielder's head in the the bottom of the 3rd), advanced to 3rd base on a Derrek Lee single to CF, and then scored when A's 3B Jake Fox air-mailed a throw over first-baseman Daric Barton's head after D-Lee fell down while rounding 1st base. Then in the bottom of the 6th, Colvin got his third extra-base hit of the day with a lead-off towering HR just to the right of the CF Batter's Eye off ex-Cub prospect LHP Jerry Blevins. So two of Colvin's three extra-base hits today were off LHPs (Cahill and Blevins).
NRI LHP J. R. Mathes labored through the 7th and 8th (40 pitches - 22 strikes, 2/2 GO/FO), allowing one run in the 7th on a HBP, single, BB and SF, and then another in the 8th when Chris Carter crushed a one-out solo HR off the roof of the Dos Gringos taco stand in deep left-center. Mathes is eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (so called "six-year minor league free-agent") post-2010, so despite having some decent years in AAA over the past couple of years, his days as a member of the Cubs organization are probably numbered.
The Cubs completed their scoring in the bottom of the 7th, as Brad Snyder absolutely pulverized a gargantuan 450+ foot HR beyond the two bullpens in RF leading off the inning, Chad Tracy lined a one-out single to LF, and Sam Fuld yanked a two-run HR over the RF fence into the A's bullpen. All three 7th inning hits (including both HR) were by LH hitters off a LHP (Brad Kilby).
RHP Esmailin Caridad had a rocking-chair easy 1-2-3 9th (14 pitches - 9 strikes, 1/2 GO/FO).
The Cubs defensive play of the day was an over-the-shoulder catch by second-baseman Andres Blanco in short RF while running with his back to the infield. (It was very windy today).
19-year old Starlin Castro entered the game at shortstop for the Cubs in the 5th, and made two routine plays in the field. He flied out F-9 and popped-out P-4 in his first two PAs, before crushing a two-out triple off the right-centerfield fence in the 8th, although he was left stranded at 3rd base when Brad Snyder struck out (swinging) on three pitches to end the inning.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to get his first Cactus League start tomorrow afternoon, when the Cubs host the Arizona Diamondbacks at HoHoKam Park.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.