Brewers Defeat Cubs, Salvage One Game
Apparently thoroughly embarrassed by the parent club’s piss-poor performance versus the Cubs at Miller Park in Milwaukee over the weekend, the EXST Brewers played inspired Cactus League Extended Spring Training baseball this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, defeating the EXST Cubs 5-1. With the loss, the Cubs fall to 4-6-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training play.
There wasn’t much in the way of positives for the Cubs to take away from today’s game, the one exception being the fine performance by starting pitcher Tarlandus Mitchell (the Cubs 2008 22nd round draft pick out of Alto HS – Alto, TX). A 20-year old RHP, Mitchell probably threw the best baseball I’ve ever seen him throw, retiring the last nine men he faced after giving up a lead-off double in the top of the 1st inning. The stocky 5’8 195 might-mite throws in the mid-90’s, but usually has lots of trouble finding the strike zone. But he did a decent job throwing strikes today (48 pitches – 31 strikes), issuing no walks while striking out four.
Mitchell gave up a chance to play college football (he was an all-state cornerback in high school) to sign a pro baseball contract with the Cubs, and up until today it looked like he might have made a mistake. But seeing him throw his fastball over the plate the way he did this morning gives one hope for his future as a pitcher, at least as long as he continues to throw strikes.
19-year old LHP Austin Kirk (Cubs 2009 3rd round pick out of Owasso HS – Owasso, OK) followed Mitchell to the mound and had a disappointing outing, allowing three runs on four hits (two singles, a double, and a two-run HR, plus a walk) in two innings of work (39 pitches), as the EXST Brew Crew broke open what had been a scoreless tie through the first three innings.
The EXST Cubs offense was mostly non-existent today, although Pin-Chieh Chen did continue his hot hitting, smoking an opposite-field double into the LF corner leading off the bottom of the 4th (although he was left stranded). The speedy 18-year old lefty-swinging Taiwanese middle-infielder is hitting .421 through the EXST Cubs first 12 games.
While the Cubs were playing the Brewers on Field #3, RHP Marcus Hatley (2009 TJS rehab) and RHP Hector Mayora (a recent arrival from the Cubs Dominican Academy in Boca Chica) threw a simulated game on Field #2.
Even under the best of circumstances it is difficult for position players at Extended Spring Training to stay sharp, because each player usually plays in only half the team's games (the EXST Cubs position players are divided into two squads, with each squad playing in every-other game, while the squad not playing in a game that day has BP, fielding practice, and baserunning drills at Fitch Park). But the EXST Cubs had more time away from game action than usual last week, as they had a full-squad "Camp Day" on both Thursday and Saturday, and then had the day off yesterday (Extended Spring Training is closed on Sundays).
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
1. Alvaro Ramirez, LF: 0-4 (4-3, 3-U, 4-3, 1-U, RBI)
2. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 1-3 (4-1, 2B, 5-3)
3. Xavier Batista, RF: 0-3 (K, 1-3, K)
4. Charles Thomas, 3B: 1-3 (1B, K, 3-U, SB)
5. Arismendy Alcantara, SS: 0-3 (K, K, F-7)
6. Sergio Burruel, C: 1-2 (BB, K, 1B)
7. Blair Springfield, DH #1: 1-3 (1B, 4-3, 5-4 FC)
8. Rafael Disla, DH #2: 0-3 (5-3, F-9, 4-3)
9. Melvin Camarena, 1B: 1-2 (BB, 2B, K, R)
10. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-3 (K, K, 5-3)
1. Tarlandus Mitchell – 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 48 pitches (31 strikes)
2. Austin Kirk – 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 3/2 GO/FO, 39 pitches (26 strikes)
3. Drew Rundle – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 12 pitches (9 strikes)
4. Alvido Jimenez – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 14 pitches (9 strikes)
5. Jadel Mendez – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
6. Yohan Gonzalez – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 9 pitches (7 strikes)
3B Charles Thomas E-5 (throwing error past 1st base on infield single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base – did not score)
C Sergio Burruel E-2 (throwing error on stolen base attempt at 3rd base allowed runner to score unearned run)
Sergio Burruel: 1-2 CS, 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny, cloudless, & very warm, temperatures in the upper 80’s
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.