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
Very bizarre game -- as you say, both Cubs pitchers were dominant until the one fatal pitch. It was like watching the Bears defense shut down a team, and then lose on 2 punt returns. Some better hitting with RISP would be a good idea, too.
Trouble Boys, the Replacements bio, is a great option. I'm sure Chad loved it.
Amen Brick. What's the point of following early-season games if you can't over-react to them? What, we should be reading books now?
"Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?"
No, I think you're thinking of Radiohead, The 1975, or Bowie's last album.
Although The National's Greatful Dead tribute is pretty cool.
I don't think they're any kind of lock, though I do expect they'll make the playoffs.
It's not like I'm glad they've gone 4-8. I just don't think it's time to be all that worried -- just like I didn't think they were going to keep playing .730 ball.
vegas isn't a fan of the game because of how erratic and unpredictable it is.
SF has recently won 3 world series many thought they weren't supposed to win...BOS won a world series recently that they weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs for...favored teams with huge wins have seen 1st round exists...fun times.
I think they'll be ok too. But having watched this team since the mid-60s, I never think it's time to conclude, well, thank god the drought is over. I've seen/heard way too many people who follow the Cubs say glad we're finally going to win the Series this year. Please. Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?
Best record in baseball and largest division lead.
I'm jumping right now!
Can we please stop pointing out how ridiculous it is to panic and start panicking in earnest?
,571 winning percentage in May.
I think they're gonna be OK.
RAISIN: All I know is that Oscar de la Cruz is still shut down, and I don't know what his prognosis is, or what the plan is going forward.
Remember just two weeks ago, when "all" they had to do was play .500 ball the rest of the season and coast into the playoffs?
Well I guess if pitchers can keep working the edges of the plate to perfection it will be a long season. But that doesn't seem likely. Rizzo finally, fully, snapping out of it would help.
If I didn't believe in coincidences (or science), I would apologize to Gordon Downie--one of my favorites. Sad news about a great talent.
Hi Arizona Phil,
Has there been any news on Oscar de la Cruz' health?