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.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?