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.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.