Rangers Edge Cubs 8-7
Carlos Zambrano threw three shutout innings, Blake DeWitt doubled, singled, drove-in a run, and scored another, and Augie Ojeda smacked a bases-loaded two-run double, but a split squad of Texas Rangers rallied from a 5-1 deficit to edge the Cubs 8-7 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
Although he did not allow a run, Zambrano did allow five baserunners (two singles, two walks, and a HBP) and struggled with his control (41 pitches - only 20 strikes), consistently missing up. But he made pitches and threw strikes when he needed them most, and was able to survive unscathed.
Braden Looper followed "Z" to the mound and worked two innings (24 pitches - 14 strikes). He was hit hard in his first inning, but threw more effectively in his second inning when he retired the Rangers 1-2-3.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were assuming a 5-1 lead.
Blake DeWitt doubled into the LF corner to lead off the bottom of the 1st, and then with two outs, Aramis Ramirez single to left to score DeWitt from 3rd base with the first run of the day.
The Cubs then scored four more runs in the bottom of the 4th.
Carlos Pena walked and Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto singled to load the bases, before Augie Ojeda smacked a double past the 1st baseman and down the RF line and into the corner, scoring Pena and Soriano. Braden Looper then lined a sacrifice fly to score Soto from 3rd (as the ball almost sailed over the head of RF Doug Deeds), and DeWitt followed the Looper SF with an RBI single to score Ojeda, as the Cubs took a 5-1 lead.
But RHP Rafael Dolis had a bad day, as the 23-year old fireballer was only able to retire one batter in the top of the 6th before being relieved. It wasn't so much that he was hit hard, it's just that he threw a boatload of pitches to get just one out (32 pitches - 20 strikes). Dolis allowed two hits (including a Mitch Moreland monster three-run jack that landed just in front of the Party Pavillion located well beyond the RF fence) and two walks, but he was also hurt by an error (dropped catch) by 1st baseman Scott Moore on what should have been an easy 6-3 put-out to open the inning, and then the next batter (Omar Quintanilla) had a 13-pitch AB that featured two sprawling unsuccessful attempts at spectacular catches by LF Matt Camp in foul territory down the LF line. Esmailin Caridad eventually relieved Dolis and got the final two out of the inning easily, but not before the Rangers had tied it up at 5-5.
Texas took the lead off Thomas Diamond in the top of the 8th, as PH David Paisano tripled off the right-centerfield fence, driving in two runs before being thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park HR. Like Zambrano earlier in the game, Diamond struggled with his control, throwing 20 pitches (but only ten for strikes) in his one inning of work.
The Cubs did score two runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as Marquez Smith doubled down the LF line, and Scott Moore and Matt Camp followed with RBI line-drive singles. So the Cubs had the potential tying run on base and the potential winning run at the plate, but the batter was Koyie Hill, and he popped-out weakly against LHRP Ben Snyder (Brad's younger brother) to CF to end the game.
The Cubs defense was marginally better today. Besides the Scott Moore dropped throw that led to two unearned runs, the Cubs also were unable to turn double plays twice in the first three innings that might have helped Zambrano to get through his three innings with a bit less stress.
Michael Young got the start at 2B for the Rangers today (perhaps as a showcase for a possible trade with the Cubs?), and he had a line-drive single and a walk in his two Plate Appearances. Interestingly, Rafael Dolis was rumored to be on the Rangers radar during the off-season in a deal that would have sent Dolis and C Robinson Chirinos to Texas for RHRP Darren O'Day and 1B Chris Davis, as a precursor to the Rangers acquiring Matt Garza from Tampa Bay (with Chirinos one of the players who would have gone to TB).
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
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.