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.
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.