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.