Soriano Blast Is All Cubs Need
Alfonso Soriano had three hits including a two-run HR and Carlos Silva threw five innings of shutout ball, as the Cubs blanked the Colorado Rockies 2-0 before 10,005 fans in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in breezy & (mostly) sunny Mesa, Arizona, this afternoon.
This was the last Cactus League game for the Cubs, although they will be staying in town for a couple of more days while playing pre-season exhibition games with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
2010 Opening Day for the Cubs will be Monday in Atlanta.
Carlos Silva got the start for the Cubs today, and Jeff Francis was the starter for the Rockies. Both threw five innings of shutout ball.
Although Silva did not allow a run, he did give up six hits in his 5.0 IP (plus one batter faced in the 6th). He benefitted from some big defensive stops (one of which was Silva himself catching a hot-shot liner on the mound), but he also absolutely shattered a bat into slivers with one of his heavy sinkers. He also retired seven men in a row at one point between the 2nd and the 4th (6-3, P-6, 1-3, Ks, 1-3, F-9, L-7), his best stretch today.
Silva was relieved by Carlos Marmol in the top of the 6th, after allowing a lead-off single to Ryan Spilborghs on his 75th pitch of the game (48 strikes, 5/8 GO/FO). Koyie Hill then threw out Splilborghs trying to steal 2nd base, and Marmol struck out Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki (both swinging) to end the inning.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 6th, when Derrek Lee roped a lead-off double off Rockies RHRP Matt Daley that sailed over CF Dexter Fowler's head. Then after Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd struck out swinging, Alfonso Soriano clubbed a two-run HR over the LF fence. And that's all the runs the Cubs needed.
Jeff Samardzija faced only two batters in the 7th (L-7 and a single) as Manager Lou Piniella apparently just wanted The Shark to throw two days in a row at least once during Spring Training (Samardzija was moved back to the bullpen last weekend). LHP John Grabow relieved Samardzija with one out and promptly walked lefty-hitting Ian Stewart to put runners on 1st & 2nd, before striking out Jonathan Herrera (looking) and getting PH Jason Giambi on a 3-1 inning-ending ground out.
RHP Jeff Gray was brought up from minor league camp and worked the 8th (21 pitches - 14 strikes), getting into immediate difficulty when he walked Dexter Fowler and allowed a single to Ryan Spilborghs to lead-off the inning. But then Gray retired the next three batters on an F-7, a 9-6 FC (a bloop that fell between Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukudome in short RF, but Fukudome was able to quickly pick-up the ball and force the runner at 2nd base), and an inning-ending 4-3 ground out.
Acquired from Oakland in the deal that sent Jake Fox and Aaron Miles to the A's, Gray was a contender for a Cubs bullpen slot coming into Spring Training, but he missed about a month after suffering a strained groin the first day he threw off the mound in February, and he just never got caught up. But he will likely be one the first Iowa relievers considered for recall in case of Cubs bullpen failure.
Esmailin Caridad pitched the 9th (12 pitches - 9 strikes), and induced PH Melvin Mora to bounce into a game-ending 5-4-3 DP after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Eric Young, Jr and Jonathan Herrera that put the potential tying run on base.
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
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.