Extended Spring Training Bullpen Collapse at Diablo
Sergio Burruel cracked a three-run double, Alvaro Ramirez drilled a two-run triple, and Xavier Batista and Arismendy Alcantara smashed solo home runs, but the Angels took advantage of nine walks to score 11 runs over the last three innings and overcome a four-run deficit in the bottom of the 8th and another four-run deficit in the bottom of the 9th, as the EXST Cubs and EXST Angels played to a 12-12 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this morning. The game was halted by mutual agreement between the two teams with one out in the bottom of the 9th after the Angels tied the game on a 420-ft+ three-run home run off the top of the Batter’s Eye in CF.
The Cubs got off to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning, as Pin-Chieh Chen laid down a bunt on the first pitch of the game and reached base on a throwing error by the Angels pitcher. Brandon May walked with one out, and then Charles Thomas executed the hit & run perfectly, driving a grounder between 1st and 2nd base as May was breaking for 2nd, knocking-in Chen and sending May to 3rd. Xavier Batista walked to load the bases, and then after Arismendy Alcantara struck out, Sergio Burruel–who entered the game hitting .077 (1-13) in EXST play—laced an opposite-field double into the LF corner to plate May, Thomas, and Batista.
20-year old Dominican RHP Luis Liria got the start for the Cubs today and threw three shutout innings, allowing just one hit and facing the minimum nine batters. (The one baserunner who reached was gunned-down at 3rd base trying to take two bases after an errant pick-off throw by Liria at 1st base). Liria struck out three today, giving him a team-leading 14 strikeouts in 12.0 IP.
18-year old Xavier Batista gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead in the top of the 4th, belting a lead-off solo home run over the LF fence. (Batista led all DSL Cubs in HR last season). This was just the second HR hit by the EXST Cubs this season, the only other one being by AA 1B-OF Matt Spencer, who was playing in an EXST game while rehabbing from a broken toe suffered in Minor League Camp.
LHP John Mincone (2009 11th round pick out of Suffolk County CC) threw the middle three innings (Liria and Mincone are on the same throwing schedule, and they take turns starting games) and was almost as good as Liria, also allowing just one hit. Unfortunately the Cubs defense was not very good behind Mincone, and so an unearned run did score on a 6-3 GO in the bottom of the 4th following a Charles Thomas error at 1B earlier in the inning.
Up 5-1, 19-year old 6’6 Taiwanese RHP Tzu-An Wang almost gave it all back in the bottom of the 7th, allowing three runs on a walk, a HBP, an RBI single, and a two-run double, before finally retiring the side.
But the Cubs got the three runs back in the top of the 8th, taking an 8-4 lead on a lead-off HR over the RF fence by Arismendy Alcantara, and a two run triple to right-center by Alvaro Ramirez following a Charles Thomas single and a walk to Xavier Batista.
Protecting a four-run lead, RHP Chris Huseby came into the game in the bottom of the 8th and really had the yips. Appearing in his first EXST game after getting sent down from Daytona ten days ago, Huseby threw 16 pitches—all 16 balls, most all head-high or above, some just narrowly missing Angels hitters—and two wild pitches before he was relieved by RHP Gian Guzman. And although he at least did throw a few strikes, Guzman wasn’t a whole lot better, allowing all three inherited runners to score thanks to a SF, a walk, and a two-run single.
But the Cubs retaliated, scoring four runs of their own in the top of the 9th to take what appeared to be a commanding 12-8 lead. Wes Darvill lined a lead-off single to CF, was advanced to 2nd base on a sacrifice bunt, moved up to third on a PB, and scored on a Pin-Chieh line-drive RBI single to RF. Arismendy Alcantara walked, and then Brandon May ripped a single between 3B and SS into LF that the Angels left-fielder overran for a two-base error, allowing both Chen and Alcantara to score, with May advancing all the way to 3rd. Jesus Morelli followed with an RBI double down the LF line to score May with the Cubs 12th run of the day.
But Guzman (a converted SS who just switched to the mound a year ago) could not hold the lead in the bottom of the 9th, walking two and allowing an RBI single, before surrendering the three-run game-tying homer that put an exclamation point at the end of the game for the Angels, and a question mark for the Cubs.
Chris Huseby is a real mystery. A 2006 10th round pick out or a Florida high school who got “1st round money” to give up his scholarship at Auburn and sign with the Cubs, the 6’7 Huseby showed promise with the AZL Cubs at Mesa in 2006 and at Boise in 2007, before coming down with a bad case of “Steve Blass Disease” (couldn’t throw strikes) two years ago, when he spent the entire 2008 season at Fitch Park trying to find the cure. It got so bad for him that year that at one point he couldn’t even play catch with his teammates because he kept throwing the ball over their heads. But somehow, someway he found a way out of the darkness, and put together a stellar year as the Peoria Chiefs closer last season. And not only did he throw strikes at Peoria, he threw almost nothing but strikes, walking just ten batters in 54 IP while striking out 73, with a 1.83 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP, and 18 Saves. But then the SBD hit him again this year at Daytona, where he walked six batters in just 2.2 IP before getting sent back to Fitch Park and Extended Spring Training.
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
1. Pin-Chieh Chen, DH #1: 1-5 (E-1, F-9, 4-3, 6-U FC, 1B, 2 R, RBI)
2. Arismendy Alcantara, SS: 1-4 (K, 1-3, L-8, HR, BB, 2 R, RBI)
3. Brandon May, 3B: 2-3 (BB, 6-3, 3B, 1B, 2 R)
4a. Charles Thomas, 1B: 2-4 (1B, 5-3, 4-3, 1B, 2 R, RBI, SB)
4b. Jesus Morelli, RF: 1-1 (2B, RBI)
5. Xavier Batista, DH #2: 1-3 (BB, HR, K, BB, F-7, 3 R, RBI)
6. Alvaro Ramirez, CF: 1-4 (K, 3-U, L-7, 3B, 2 RBI)
7. Sergio Burruel, C: 2-4 (2B, 1B, K, 6-2 FC, 3 RBI)
8. Blair Springfield, LF: 1-4 (1B, F-8, P-3, 6-4 FC, SB)
9. Wes Darvill, 2B: 1-4 (P-4, L-8, E-4, 1B, R)
10. Melvin Camarena, RF-1B: 0-2 (K, 4-3, BB, 1-3 SH)
1. Luis Liria – 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 32 pitches (22 strikes)
2. John Mincone – 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 3/5 GO/FO, 36 pitches (24 strikes)
3. Tzu-An Wang – 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (8 strikes)
4. Chris Huseby – 0.0 IP, 0 H, 4 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 0 K, 2 WP, 16 pitches (0 strikes)
5. Gian Guzman - 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 0/4 GO/FO, 39 pitches (18 strikes)
P Luis Liria E-1 (throwing error on attempted pick-off at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd base, but the runner was thrown out at 3rd base)
1B Charles Thomas E-3 (fumbled grounder allowing batter to reach base safely – eventually scored unearned run)
SS Arismendy Alcantara E-6 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely – did not score)
Sergio Burruel: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Partly cloudy and breezy, temperatures in the 80’s