Zambrano Throws Five Shutout Innings at HoHoKam
Carlos Zambrano threw five innings of three-hit shutout ball and Ryan Theriot drove in three runs with a bases-clearing double, leading a Cubs "split squad" to a 4-0 whitewashing of the Kansas City Royals in front of 11,842 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ this afternoon.
Zambrano labored through his first two innings, needing 45 pitches (25 in the 1st and 20 more in the 2nd) to get his first six outs. But then he started throwing strikes (26 of is last 37 pitches were strikes), retiring 11 of the last 13 men he faced. For the day, "Z" allowed two singles and a double, plus two walks, while striking out four (incuding David DeJesus twice), throwing a total of 82 pitches (51 strikes), with a 6/5 GO/FO.
RHP Casey Coleman was brought back from Minor League Camp for the day (he just got sent down yesterday), and pitched OK in his first inning (10 pitches - 8 strikes, with two strikeouts and a 6-3 grounder), before the Royals loaded the bases with one out in his second inning of work on a sharply-hit ground single to right, a line single to right-center, and a walk. But then Coleman was able to induce Cody Clark to hit into a 5-3 DP to end the threat and the inning.
RHP Esmailin Caridad pitched the 8th (14 pitches - 10 strikes), and while he threw strikes and got one punch-out, he also allowed two hard-hit singles before the side was retired on the defensive play of the game, a diving stop & throw by Cubs second-baseman D. J. Lemahieu (up from Minor League Camp) on a ball that was headed into RF. Lemahieu needed all of his 6'4 frame to reach the ball, and then he had the cool to make a solid throw to 1st base to cut down speedy Derrick Robinson by a half-step.
Closer Carlos Marmol pitched the 9th, and he needed 25 pitches (15 strikes) to strikeout the side, allowing just one harmless two-out single through the box into CF.
The Cubs scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning off Royals rookie LHP Edgar Osuna. Marlon Byrd led off with a double off the top of the LF fence (near HR) and advanced to 3rd on a one-out Alfonso Soriano ground single to left. Geovany Soto followed with an RBI infield single to deep short (outstanding acrobatic dive-stop & throw by KC SS Wilson Betenmit, BTW) that scored Byrd, and then Brad Snyder walked to load the bases. Carlos Zambrano struck out swinging (and he was clearly not happy with himself for his strike-three half-swing), but Ryan Theriot picked up "Z," lacing a line double into the LF corner to clear the bases.
Meanwhile, the other Cubs squad made the trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium and faced the Oakland A's, losing 7-4.
Battling for a spot in the Cubs starting rotation, LHP Tom Gorzelanny got the start in Phoenix and went 3.2 IP, allowing two unearned run on four hits (two singles, a double, and a triple) and five walks (he has had major control problems all Spring), while striking out five. Sean Marshall clearly has out-pitched Gorzelanny this Spring, so if it's indeed a battle between the two lefties for one spot in the rotation (with Carlos Silva and Jeff Samardzija competing for the other starting slot), Marshall would probably win the starter's gig and Gorzelanny (who is out of minor league options) would be the #2 lefty in the bullpen.
Still in the mix for a possible bullpen spot, LHP John Gaub worked one inning in relief and struck out the side, but he also allowed two walks and a HBP (ex-Cub Jake Fox).
Micah Hoffpauir had two hits (a single and a double) and scored two runs (but he also made an error), and Ryan Flaherty (brought up from Minor League Camp for the game) drove in two runs with a double. Tyler Colvin went 0-4 with a strikeout.