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.
Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.
I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.
Benji Molina is out of lineup
Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.
Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.
If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.
No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.
I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.
Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!
BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.
AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?
Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?
CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!
Oh what do you know, Cubster? Go back to your day job.
--- Ducks, puts on Cardinals cap, runs.
Russell had a severe hamstring last year while with the A's system, forcing him to miss the first half of 2014. I've even wondered if his injury last year was a component of Billy Beane putting him on the trade market. He was quoted saying that last year's injury was a 10 out of 10 when it happened. Last night he said his hamstring soreness was a 1/1.5 out of 10. Hamstring injuries are tricky though, so I'd expect the medical team to be overly cautious here.
...I want to reinforce the observation that there was no sea of red in the crowd. The usual Cardinal fans roaming the stadium were few and far between.
Also, almost every 2 strike pitch brought the fans to their feet. Good for those in knee rehab.
"1st team hit hit 6HR in a game in the postseason." rises above obvious...i checked it with the official fact-finding commission of Douche, Douche, and Douchestein. they agreed with you, but they're a bunch of f'n douches so who cares?
btw, the cubs are 2-1 in the post-season series.