Spencer Hits Early and Often at Extended Spring Training
Xavier Batista and Blair Springfield drove-in two runs a piece in a four-run Cubs 2nd, and Matt Spencer whacked a home run over the RF fence leading-off the bottom of the 3rd, as the EXST Cubs held-on to defeat the EXST A's 6-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
At Extended Spring Training while rehabbing from a broken toe suffered last month in Minor League Camp, Matt Spencer hit in each of the first five innings of today’s game (he batted in all nine innings yesterday), going 2-4 with the solo HR, a single, and a walk. He left the game after playing just five innings, possibly an indication that he has completed his rehab assignment and will be re-joining the AA Tennessee Smokies tomorrow or Monday. (Spencer was acquired from the Oakland A's last December along with pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Morla for IF-OF Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles).
Trailing 1-0, the Cubs erupted for four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Spencer led-off with a line single, Charles Thomas drew a walk, and Sergio Burruel was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then with one out, 18-year old Dominican slugger Xavier Batista ripped a double off the LF fence to drive-in two, and with two outs, Blair Springfield lined a single to right-center to plate the other two runs.
The Cubs scored their final runs of the day in the bottom of the third inning. Spencer hit a lead-off HR over the RF fence, and then Vismeldy Bieneme drew a walk, Pin-Chieh Chen singled to right (Chen’s second hit of the day) sending Bieneme to 3rd, and Charles Thomas bounced an RBI single with a lot of top-spin through the box and into CF to knock-in Bieneme.
The Cubs bullpen did a pretty good job in the middle innings, at one point retiring 13 A's batters in a row. 20-year old Dominican LHP Marcos Perez was especially impressive, throwing two perfect 1-2-3 innings, striking out three, and doing it while throwing only 14 pitches (13 for strikes!). In two apperarances so far for the EXST Cubs, Perez has thrown four perfect innings (29 pitches - 24 strikes), with four strikeouts. If the Peoria Chiefs are in need of another lefty reliever (and it would appear they are), I would think that M. Perez is definitely a strong candidate to get tabbed.
In EXST Cubs roster news, LHP James Leverton has been moved up to Peoria, replacing RHP Jon Nagel, who was placed on the Chiefs 7-day DL. Leverton struck out all four batters he faced in his only EXST appearance last Monday.
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
NOTE: 1B Matt Spencer batted in each of the first five innings, getting five plate appearances total in the game.
X. Matt Spencer, 1B: 2-4 (4-3, 1B, HR, BB, 4-3, 2 R, RBI)
1. Vismeldy Bieneme, 3B: 0-2 (4-3, BB, 6-3, R)
2. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-8, CS)
3a. SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES
3b. Melvin Camarena, 1B: 0-1 (F-8)
4. Charles Thomas, DH #1: 1-2 (BB, 1B, P-4, R, RBI)
5a. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-1 (HBP, 6-4-3 GIDP, R)
5b. Jose Guevara, C: 0-1 (K)
6. Arismendy Alcantara, SS 0-3 (P-7, 1-3, K)
7. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-3 (2B, 5-4-3 GIDP, 6-3, R, 2 RBI)
8. Manuel Pestana, LF: 0-3 (5-3, K, F-8)
9. Blair Springfield, DH #2: 1-3 (1B, P-4, P-4, 2 RBI)
10. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-2 (K, K)
1. Luis Liria – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 50 pitches (32 strikes)
2. John Mincone – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 3/1 GO/FO, 34 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Marcos Perez – 2.0 IP, 0H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (13 strikes)
4. Yohan Gonzalez – 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 33 pitches (21 strikes)
2B Pin-Chieh Chen E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base with one out in the top of the 3rd inning – did not score).
Sergio Burruel: 0-1 CS, 1 PB
LF Manuel Pestana threw out batter 7-4 trying to stretch a single down LF line into a double with no outs in the top of the 2nd inning.
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s
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.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.