Cubs Defense & Bullpen Falter in 9th
Down to their last strike, the Cubs rallied for three runs in the top of the 9th to take a 5-3 lead, only to see the Giants take advantage of a two-base throwing error in the bottom of the 9th and score two runs to tie the game, as the EXST Cubs and EXST Giants played to a 5-5 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this morning.
The Giants got off to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st when Giants clean-up hitter Michael Sandoval roped a line-drive two-run homer down the LF line off Cubs starter Eduardo Figueroa.
Shut out and shut down with only two hits and three baserunners to show for their efforts through the first five innings, the Cubs came back in the top of the 6th, as Vismeldy Bieneme grounded a single to CF and Kyung-Min Na bounced a single past the shortstop with one out. Bieneme used his speed (he had 42 SB in the DSL last season) to take an extra base on Na’s single, sliding safely into 3rd on a bang-bang play as the speedy Na (rated the fastest HS baseball player in South Korea last year) alertly motored into second base. Arismendy Alcantara then hit a sacrifice fly to CF to score Bieneme with the Cubs first run of the day.
Trailing 3-1 going into the 8th, the Cubs narrowed the gap to 3-2 as Manuel Pestana reached base on an infield single, and advanced to 3rd when Melvin Camarena fisted a bloop single down the RF line. Pestana then scored on a Vismeldy Bieneme sacrifice fly to CF.
Down 3-2 going into the top of the 9th, Jose Guevara lined a single to left and Charles Thomas looped a single to CF with no outs. Xavier Batista dropped a beautiful sacrifice bunt down the third base line (that he nearly beat-out) to advance the runners up one base each, but Blair Springfield struck out with one out and the tying run at 3rd (Springfield’s third whiff of the day). Pin-Chieh Chen then swung and missed on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt for what should have been the game-ending out, but the ball bounced past the catcher for a wild pitch, allowing Chen to reach base and Guevara to score. Then with Chen running on a 3-2 pitch, Manuel Pestana blooped a single into CF, as Thomas scored from 3rd and Chen (running all the way) scored from 1st to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead.
RHP Carlos Rojas came into the game in the bottom of the 9th with a two run lead and a chance at a save, but he got into trouble right away when shortstop Pin-Chieh Chen threw a ball over the head of Charles Thomas (and with Thomas being 6’4 225+, that’s not easy to do) and into the Cubs dugout for a two-base error (Chen’s second errant throw of the game). A triple, a walk, and an RBI single later, and the game was tied. Rojas did retire the last two batters (F-7 and a K-swinging) with the potential winning run at 2nd base, but the damage was done.
One day after OF Albert Hernandez made his U. S. debut for the EXST Cubs, three more right-handed hitting outfielders who recently arrived at Fitch Park from the Cubs Dominican Academy saw their first Extended Spring Training game action. 18-year old 6’3 190 Dominican Xavier Batista (241/333/409 with a team-leading 8 HR for DSL Cubs #1 in 2009) got the start in RF and hit 5th, 20-year old 5’11 155 Venezuelan Manuel Pestana (239/340/315 for DSL Cubs #1 in 2009) played LF and hit 8th, and 20-year old 6’4 225 Dominican Melvin Camarena (271/319/376 for DSL Cubs #2 in 2009) was DH #2 and batted 9th, and each contributed in some way to run-scoring innings.
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (F-7, P-5, 1B, K)
2. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B: 1-3 (1B, 6-3, F-8 SF, 4-3, RBI)
3a. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-3 (4-3, K, K)
3b. Jose Guevara, C: 1-1 (1B, R)
4. Charles Thomas, 1B: 1-2 (BB, 4-3, BB, 1B, R, SB)
5. Xavier Batista, RF: 0-3 (K, 5-3, K, 5-4 SH)
6. Blair Springfield, DH #1: 0-4 (K, 5-3, K, K)
7. Pin-Chieh Chen, SS: 1-4 (F-9, 1B, 4-3, K, R)
8. Manuel Pestana, LF: 2-4 (L-5, 6-4 FC, 1B, 1B, R, 2 RBI)
9. Melvin Camarena, DH #2: 1-4 (K, K, 1B, 5-3, SB)
10. Vismeldy Bieneme, 3B: 1-2 (K, 1B, F-8 SF, R, RBI)
1. Eduardo Figueroa – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 1 PO, 2/5 GO/FO, 39 pitches (26 strikes)
2. Frank Batista – 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1/5 GO/FO, 31 pitches (20 strikes)
3. Danny Keefe – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 26 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Carlos Rojas – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (14 strikes)
1. SS Pin-Chieh Chen E-6 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base with one out in the bottom of the 5th)
2. SS Pin-Chieh Chen E-6 (two-base throwing error leading off bottom of the 9th, eventually leading to unearned run scoring)
CF Kyung-Min Na threw out baserunner 8-5 trying to advance from 2nd to 3rd base on a fly out to CF
WEATHER: Mostly sunny with temperatures in the 70’s
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on
#Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.