Royals Flush Cubs into 13-Run Pool
Melky Cabrera drove-in three runs with a bases loaded triple to key a five-run 1st inning and the Royals never looked back, as the Cubs were thumped 13-4 by Kansas City in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
The Royals did much of their damage against Cubs starter Matt Garza, who had an abysmal outing (especially his first inning), allowing a total of six runs on four hits and four walks in 2.2 IP (69 pitches - 40 strikes, 3/1 GO/FO).
The Royals scored five times in the top of the 1st, an inning in which Garza threw a whopping 39 pitches (23 strikes). Lorenzo Cain and Mike Aviles both drew walks to start the KC uprising, as Garza appeared to be over-throwing. Billy Butler ripped an RBI single for the 1st Royal run, and then Jeff Francouer drew a one-out walk (Garza's third free-pass of the inning). Melky Cabera then made Garza pay for his wild indiscretions, drilling a triple into deep left-centerfield to plate Aviles, Butler, and Francouer, and give the Royals a 4-0 lead. Alex Gordon followed with an RBI single to drive-in Cabrera.
The Cubs scored a single run in the bottom of the 1st against KC starter LHP Bruce Chen. Jeff Baker walked on a 3-2 pitch, and advanced to 3rd on a one-out single into the LF corner by hot-hittin' Marlon Byrd (with Byrd taking 2nd on the throw to 3rd). Aramis Ramirez then knocked-in Baker with an RBI ground out.
Although he issued another walk and had trouble locating the strike zone, Garza did retire 8 of 9 hitters after Gordon's 1st inning RBI single, before allowing another Gordon single with two outs in the 3rd, the last batter he would face. RHP Jay Jackson relieved Garza, and Gordon promptly stole a base to get into scoring position (a weak one-hop throw to 2nd by Geovany Soto). Manuel Pina then drove Gordon home with an RBI single, as Jackson allowed his inherited runner to score.
Marlon Byrd cut the KC lead to 6-2 with a solo HR over the LF fence with two outs in the 3rd. Over his last four Cactus League games, Byrd has nine hits (including four doubles and a HR) plus a walk in ten AB (11 PA).
But J. Jackson gave the run right back in the top of the 4th, as Aviles and Butler hammered consecutive one-out singles to put runners on 1st & 3rd, giving Wilson Betemit the opportunity to plate Aviles with a SF (which he did). J. Jackson surrendered another run in the 5th on back-to-back doubles by Cabrera and Gordon. For the day J. Jackson allowed two runs (not including the inherited Garza runner who scored) on five hits (including two doubles), with no walks or strikeouts. Getting stretched-out for when he joins the Iowa Cubs starting rotation at Minor League Camp (probably next week), Jackson was permitted to go 2.1 IP, throwing 48 pitches (31 strikes), with a 1/5 GO/FO (almost all of his pitches were up in the strike zone).
Carlos Marmol threw a 1-2-3 6th with two strikeouts (Jeff Bianchi and Kila Ka'aihue) and a ground out. Marmol had really nasty stuff today.
Down 8-2, the Cubs looked like they might mount another 6th inning rally like the one they pulled off against the Angels on Monday. Facing LHRP Everett Teaford, Josh Vitters (who has looked very good both at the plate and in the field this Spring) laced a one-out double, and Max Ramirez walked. Reed Johnson doubled to score Vitters and send M. Ramirez to 3rd (although in true Cubbery, all three runners were between 2nd and 3rd at one point), and Carlos Pena walked to load the bases, with the eventual potential tying run now moving to the On-Deck Circle. But Jim Adduci rolled into a room-service 4-6-3 DP to end the inning and kill the rally in its infancy.
RHP Justin Berg was next to take the hill for the Cubs, and he had another poor outing (a walk, a HBP, and an RBI single in 1.0 IP), throwing 18 pitches but only nine for strikes.
Jeff Stevens had an impressive (for him) 12-pitch 1-2-3 8th, but Esmailin Caridad struggled with his command and was tagged for three runs in a 23-pitch (14 strikes) 9th, surrendering a single, a triple, and a Mitch Maier HR (plus an HBP) before getting the third out.
The Cubs scored once in the bottom of the 9th, as pinch-hitter Chris Robinson rammed a double off the fence in left-centerfield, and scored a moment later on a Jeff Baker line-drive RBI single to right.
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.