Carlos Silva: Identity Theft Victim?
Five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, Jeff Baker smashed a solo home run, and Xavier Nady doubled twice and knocked-in two runs, leading the Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Cactus League action before a capacity crowd of 13,157 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa this afternoon.
Carlos Silva got the start for the Cubs and looked very good, throwing four shutout innings (52 pitches - 37 strikes, 4/5 GO/FO), allowing two hits and one HBP, while striking out three (Julio Borbon once and Chris Davis twice, with all three punchouts featuring a called third strike).
Silva threw effortlessly and just plain cruised through his four innings of work, retiring the last seven men he faced. He looked like he probably could have gone another inning or two if Manager Lou Piniella had let him do it. This was probably the best outing by a Cubs starting pitcher this Spring.
1st inning: Kc, L-4 (outstanding diving catch by Fontenot), 1B, HBP, and Kc (20 pitches - 14 strikes)
2nd inning: P-3, 6-3, 1B, FC (10 pitches - seven strikes)
3rd inning: 3-U, 5-3, P-5 (11 pitches - eight strikes)
4th inning: F-8, Kc, L-5 (11 pitches - eight strikes)
Esmailin Caridad followed Silva and further solidified his spot in the 2010 Cubs bullpen, facing just six men in his two innings (31 pitches - 19 strikes), striking out three (Taylor Teagarden, Elvis Andrus, and David Murphy, all swinging). Caridad did walk Joaquin Arias with two outs in the 5th, but Arias was gunned down by Geovany Soto trying to steal 2nd base. Caridad appeared to be throwing VERY hard today, and overmatched all three of his strikeout victims.
RHP Marcos Mateo entered the game in the 6th, and although he did allow a solo HR to DH Justin Smoak leading off the 8th, he probably threw the ball as well this afternoon as he has all Spring. Mateo threw strikes (22 pitches - 16 strikes), and struck out three of the five men he faced. Like Caridad, Mateo was really rushin' it up there today.
Mateo was relieved by Jeff Stevens with one out and the bases empty in the 8th (it looked like it took Stevens longer than normal to get loose, which may be why Mateo started the 8th inning), and Stevens retired both men he faced, although he did go 3-2 on both hitters.
LHP James Russell continued his fine Spring, working a 1-2-3 9th (13 pitches - seven strikes), striking out the last two men he faced.
The Cubs didn't do much offensively, but they did manage to bunch their hits.
Ryan Theriot singled leading off the bottom of the 1st (chopper bobbled by 1st baseman Chris Davis, but Rangers starter Neftali Feliz forgot to cover 1st), but Kosuke Fukudome and Xavier Nady struck out swinging (and Theriot was caught stealing on a "strike 'em, out, throw 'em out" when Nady fanned). Alfonso Soriano singled with two outs in the 2nd, but was left stranded.
But then the Cubs rallied with two outs and nobody on base in the 3rd against Feliz, as The Riot lined a single to CF, and advanced to 3rd when Kosuke Fukudome grounded an opposite-field double down the LF line. Xavier Nady then ripped a double into the left-field corner, scoring Theriot and Fukudome, and Marlon Byrd lined a single to center, scoring Nady from 2nd with the third run of the inning.
Jeff Baker might be breaking out of his Spring Training slump, as he crushed a towering solo home run over the left-center fence of LHP C. J. Wilson (who had retired all eight men he faced--including FIVE strikeouts--prior to the Baker HR).
The Cubs threatened against Wilson (who worked four innings today) in the 8th, as Tyler Colvin hung in there against a tough lefty and roped a line-single to CF on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the inning. Nady then doubled (his second two-bagger of the day) to advance Colvin to 3rd, but Wilson made some good pitches and retired the next three hitters (James Adduci, Micah Hoffpauir, and Sam Fuld) on weak ground balls (the first two with the infield pulled-in). Hoffpauir and Fuld have really struggled at the plate so far.
The Cubs optioned hard-throwing (but very raw) 22-year old RHP Rafael Dolis to AA Tennessee today, so the Cubs MLB Spring Traning roster now stands at 50 (including 24 pitchers, five catchers, 13 infielders, and eight outfielders). The Cubs must get their MLB Active List roster down to 25 players by Sunday April 3rd.
The Cubs have their annual mid-Spring Training day off tomorrow.