Snyder Doubles Cubs Pleasure
Brad Snyder crushed a game-winning two-run double off the CF Batter's Eye in the bottom of the 9th, scoring Bobby Scales from second base with the tying run and Sam Fuld from first with the winning run, as the Cubs edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7 in Cactus League action in front of 11,775 fans under sunny skies (65 degrees) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
The Cubs fielded a starting lineup today that featured three of their recent #1 draft picks (LF Tyler Colvin, 3B Josh Vitters, and CF Brett Jackson) and their #1 position player prospect (SS Starlin Castro), but only one front-line big league position player (2B Jeff Baker, presuming one considers Baker a starter). But the Diamondbacks brought Justin Upton, Adam LaRoche, and Mark Reynolds up from Tucson to hit 3-4-5 in their lineup.
Carlos Zambrano was the Cubs starting pitcher, and (like Randy Wells yesterday) he threw two perfect innings (28 pitches - 18 strikes), mowing down the D'backs 4-3, 3-U, 6-3 (Upton), Ks (LaRoche), F-8 (Reynolds), and 5-3.
Dan Haren got the start for Arizona, and he also threw two shutout/hitless innings and faced only six batters. (Kevin Millar walked leading off the bottom of the 2nd inning, but was erased on a "strike 'em out/throw 'em out" when Josh Vitters fanned swinging).
And the game remained scoreless going into the bottom of the 5th, as NRI RHP Casey Coleman (the Cubs 2009 Minor League Player of the Year) threw two impressive shutout innings (27 pitches - 17 strikes, 3/2 GO/FO), striking out one and walking none while allowing just a two-out Chris Young PH double in the 3rd, and Jeff Stevens struck out the side (Mark Reynolds-Chris Snyder-Ryan Roberts) in a 1-2-3 top of the 5th.
Ex-Cub Aaron Heilman, who was traded to Arizona during the off season for two minor leaguers, entered the game for the D'backs in the bottom of the 5th and really got lit-up. Josh Vitters led-off with a line single to right-center, and scored the game's first run when Brett Jackson tripled off the CF "Green Monster." The ball did a ricochet off the Batter's Eye into LF, and Jackson almost ran up Vitters' ass coming around second base headed for third. It looked like Jackson probably could have had an easy inside-the-park-HR, but 3rd base coach Mike Quade held him up at 3rd (much to the chagrin of the fans). Koyie Hill followed with a vicious line-drive single that caromed off Heilman's foot and landed in short LF, scoring Jackson. After Jeff Stevens struck out failing to lay down a bunt, Starlin Castro singled to right-center, sending K. Hill to 3rd. Jeff Baker walked to load the bases, and then Tyler Colvin (who had roped a double over the right-fielder's head in the bottom of the 4th) pulled a sharply-hit single between first & second, scoring Hill and Castro with the third and fourth runs of the inning, while sending Baker to 3rd. The inning ended when Baker was thrown out at home 8-2 trying to score on a Kevin Millar fly out to CF. (Baker quite obviously left early from third, but he got thrown out anyway).
The Snakes came right back in the top of the 6th, as their first two batters reached on fielding miscues. (CF Brett Jackson lost a routine fly ball in the sun on what was scored a double, and then 2B Matt Camp booted an easy grounder for an E-4). Stevens (working a second inning after throwing 16 pitches in his first inning) did not handle the adversity very well, as he then gave up a Tony Abreu RBI single to left, a walk to Gerardo Parra to load the bases, and a gargantuan Justin Upton grand slam that hit off the top of the scoreboard, thereby unloading the bases. Stevens was allowed to pitch to two more batters (a screaming line-drive to LF and fly ball to the warning track in CF), before John Gaub entered the game to get the final out of the inning on a ball that bounced off his body and then back to the catcher, resulting in a somewhat unusual 1-2-3 GO. Stevens finished with a line of 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, and 1 HR, 42 pitches - 24 strikes, 0/2 GO/FO.
Gaub also pitched the 7th inning and allowed a long lead-off HR over the LF fence to D'Backs utility infielder Ryan Roberts, but struck out the final two hitters he faced. Gaub is the protypical LOOGY (lefty specialist), but he faced only one LH hitter today (Brandon Allen, who he retired on a routine 4-3 GO). Gaub labored through his 1.1 IP, going to full counts on several hitters (31 pitches - 20 strikes, 2/0 GO/FO).
The Cubs threatened but did not score in the bottom of the 7th, as Starlin Castro hammered a one-out ground-rule double to deep right-center (it was hit to exactly the same spot his triple was hit yesterday, and this one would have been a triple, too, if the ball hadn't bounced off the rock-hard warning track and then up & over the fence), but was left stranded after Matt Camp flied out to CF (Castro advanced to 3rd) and James Adduci grounded out 4-3.
RHP Marcos Mateo worked the top of the 8th for the Cubs, allowing a ground ball single and a HBP, but no runs (14 pitches - 9 strikes, 3/0 GO/FO).
Down 6-4 going into the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs rallied to tie the score off Diamonbacks LHRP Clay Zavada. With one out, Brad Snyder fisted a single to right, and advanced to second on a Vitters rope-single to left (his second hit of the day). Brett Jackson reached base for the 4th time (two walks, a triple, and a HBP for B. Jackson today) when he was hit by a pitch on the upper right shoulder by Zavada, loading the bases, and then Chris Robinson lined an RBI single to CF to score Snyder, leaving the bases loaded with out. James Adduci was up next, and he ripped a low line-drive to RF that Collin Cowgill snagged with a spectacular diving catch, but Vitters had a brain fart and forgot to tag up (he ran for home as soon as the ball was hit), so he did not score. But Darwin Barney got Vitters off the goat horns, drawing a bases-loaded walk on a 3-1 pitch to force-in a run and tie the score at six. Matt Camp then struck out (swinging) with the bases-loaded to end the inning.
RHP Justin Berg entered the game for the Cubs in the top of the 9th, and promptly allowed a Cole Gillespie HR over the LF fence that gave the Diamondbacks the lead. Berg then retired then next three batters in order, but the damage was done. (19 pitches - 12 strikes for Berg today)
So the Cubs entered the bottom of the 9th needing one run to tie, and two to win. With D'backs RHRP Esmerling Vasquez on the mound, PH Bobby Scales (batting LH) led-off the inning and was immediately drilled with a pitch. Micah Hoffpauir followed with a hard-hit ground-single to RF that just missed hitting Scales, such that Scales had to hold-up at 2nd base. Sam Fuld was sent-in to PR for Hoffpauir, and then hitting with a 3-2 count, Snyder apparently got the pitch he was looking for, hammering it off the CF Batter's Eye to give the Cubs the victory.
The Cubs face the White Sox tomorrow at HoHoKam Park, in a game that is supposed to be televised on WGN-TV. Newly-acquired RHP Carlos Silva (obtained by the Cubs from Seattle in the Milton Bradley deal) is scheduled to get the start for the Cubs, presuming the game does not interfere with lunch.