Wells and Welington Just What Doc Ordered
Welington Castillo continued his torrid Cactus League hitting, lining a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Bobby Scales from 2nd base with the winning run, as the Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in front of an all-time record crowd of 13,465 under overcast skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Randy Wells got the start for the Cubs today, and he was masterful, allowing singles to the first two men he faced in the game before retiring 18 in a row (including seven on strikeouts). Wells was efficient, needing just 69 pitches (49 strikes) to get through his six-inning stint, including four consecutive nine-pitch innings. He looked like he easily could have pitched another inning or two.
The only blemish on the Wells performance was in the 1st inning, when Emmanuel Burriss singled sharply to left on the first pitch of the game, stole 2nd, and then scored on ex-Cub Mike Fontenot's line-drive RBI single to CF.
After that, Wells was untouchable.
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 4th against Giants starter Shane Loux and reliever Casey Daigle (who was no relief), as Marlon Byrd grounded a one-out single to center (his second hit of the game), and, after Loux was relieved by Daigle, scored on a two-out RBI double into the RF corner by Scott Moore. Bobby Scales followed, ripping a two-out RBI single to RF to score Moore from 2nd base and give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
John Grabow made his second appearance in four days, relieving Wells and working a scoreless top of the 7th (16 pitches -11 strikes), allowing just a lead-off single before retiring the last three men easily.
But Sean Marshall ran into trouble in the top of the 8th.
Travis Ishikawa singled to lead-off the inning, and Eli Whiteside roped a double into the LF corner, sending Ishikawa to 3rd. Marshall then threw a WP (a high outside fastball that ticked off catcher Welington Castillo's glove on what just as easily could have been scored a Passed Ball), allowing Ishikawa to score the tying run, and moving Whiteside up to 3rd base with no outs. But Marshall went to work, getting two outs on pop ups and the final out on a strikeout, leaving Whiteside stranded at 3rd.
Carlos Marmol threw a nine-pitch 1-2-3 top of the 9th and Marcos Mateo threw a shutout 10th (18 pitches - 12 strikes), allowing a walk while striking out two. Mateo actually got four outs in the inning and had to work out of more trouble than should have been necessary, thanks to a lead-off E-6 bobble by SS Starlin Castro. Mateo walked the second batter he faced, putting runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs, but then Welington Castillo made an outstanding play on a sacrifice attempt, fielding the bunt on one hop and firing a laser to cut-down the runner trying to advance from 2nd base to 3rd. Mateo then loaded up the tank and gassed the last two hitters on six pitches. Mateo has a "live" arm and has been very impressive (so far), and he probably has a reasonably decent shot at making the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster if Andrew Cashner begins the season as the Cubs #5 starter (Mateo would take Cashner's slot in the bullpen).
Meanwhile, the Cub offense was mostly quiet throughout the late innings. Scott Moore did work a two-out walk in the bottom of the 9th, but PR Jae-Hoon Ha (up from Minor League Camp) got a bit adventurous with his lead and was immediately picked-off.
Facing Giants RHP Josh Banks, Bobby Scales led-off the bottom of the 10th by singling on a 3-2 pitch, his second hit of the day. Josh Vitters faked a bunt and swung away, lining out sharply to LF, but then Scales (representing the potential winning run) showed he still has some speed left in his 33-year old legs and stole 2nd base (easily). Max Ramirez drew a walk, and then Castillo came through with his game-winning hit, an absolute rocket liner to right-center that bounded past the Giants CF.
With his 1-2 day today, W. Castillo's Cactus League AVG, OBP, and SLG slash-line dropped to 706/789/941.
And Bobby Scales has played as well as anyone in camp, hitting everything in sight and making all the routine plays at 2B. He also has the ability to hit cold off the bench from both sides of the plate, something that could be useful for a National League team.
Today's Loss puts new meaning into their national anthem: O Canada
LaTroy does what he's always done best, blow games on the line. Still breaking management hearts at age 42.
I'm sure Fox is thrilled with the ratings potential of a Rangers + Astros ALCS. Ha.
LaTroy is going to LaTroy
I am remarkably calm about today's game. Not that I am expecting to win, but that I have no expectations at all either way.
If the Cubs game goes to 14 innings, I will no longer be calm.
TEX/TOR in the 14th inning, btw...fun stuff.
Yay! KB at 3B!
Molina in the Cards lineup.
Fowler (CF), Schwarber (RF!), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Coughlan (LF), Russell (SS), Ross (C), Lester (P)
If the baseball gods would guarantee that result, I'd take it :-).
I wonder if it is about numbers specifically against the Mets. But, it could also be because Kershaw can go 9 innings everytime, while Grienke very rarely makes it through the game. They don't want to expose their weak bullpen.
I have trouble getting past the extraordinary 1.66 ERA, but I don't know what the heck will happen with the Cy Young vote this year.
So Kershaw is opening the series for the Dodgers. How, then, does Greinke get the Cy Young? Not even the best pitcher on his team!
You have angered the baseball gods. Now Lester will lose and Hendricks will win.
Cubs go home 1-1, with Arrieta starting game 3, I like our chances in this series. Tomorrow's pitching matchup is lousy on paper, so today is obviously crucial.
Will be fun to watch. My two keys are scoring early, and keeping Lester's pitch count below 15 per inning.
Hopefully Der Kaiser won't be doing this until December