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
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
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).