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).
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!