Someone Left the Cash Out in the Rain
Carlos Pena crushed a three-run HR, Starlin Castro tripled, singled, scored a run, and knocked-in another, and Geovany Soto drove-in two runs with a wind-blown double, as the Cubs took a 7-4 lead after the top of the 4th inning in Cactus League action at damp and windy Tempe Diablo Stadium, in a game that was called due to rain after 3-1/2 innings before it was an official game.
Hoping to nail-down the 5th starter's job, Andrew Cashner got the start for the Cubs and pitched all three innings prior to the game being called. He allowed four runs (earned) on seven hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a GIDP. He threw 67 pitches (only 38 strikes). needing 22 pitches to get through the 1st inning when the Angels scored twice, 20 pitches in a scoreless 2nd inning, and 25 pitches in another two-run Angel uprising in the 3rd. The damage could have been even worse (and the pitch count even higher), but the Angels ran themselves out of both the 1st and 2nd innings (runner thrown out trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a two-out single in the 1st, and a strike-out & CS DP to end the 2nd).The Angels original lineup featured most of their starters (Aybar, Kendrick, Hunter, Wells, et al), but most of them left after only one AB, so Cashner actually struggled in the 2nd and 3rd innings against a minor leaguer lineup.
Cashner had all kinds of problems throwing strikes today, and while the gusty winds and light drizzle that fell for much of the game was probably a contributing factor, it really is not all that unusual for Cash to throw a high number of pitches-per-inning. The thing about Cashner is that he throws harder when he knows he is going to pitch just one inning, and can rely more on his high-velocity four-seamer to rack up strikeouts instead of throwing a two-seamer/slider/change-up combo that might or might not result in him throwing fewer pitches, but certainly will make him more hittable. Personally, I'll take the one-inning "let-it-all-hang-out" Cashner with the 98-100 MPH unhittable gas who goes aggressively after hitters, rather than the starter Cashner who tries to mix-up his pitches and induce ground balls like a hundred other run-of-the-mill MLB pitchers.
Given Cashner's performance today, I would say the jury is still out regarding the Cubs 5th starter. I guess it could be Cashner (although his high pitch counts will burn out a bullpen if it's not rested), or Carlos Silva or Braden Looper (despite neither pitcher looking like someone you would want on the hill starting a game every 5th day), or maybe Casey Coleman (who threw in a game at Minor League Camp last Saturday) will get the job by default.
The Cubs got on the scoreboard in the top of the 1st inning against Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez (who made the start today, probably because of the wet conditions), as Kosuke Fukudome walked and Starlin Castro lined a single to left to start the game. After Marlon Byrd flied out to CF, Carlos Pena whacked a towering three-run HR high & far over the RF fence, with the ball last seen hopping merrily in the direction of eastbound I-10.
The Cubs scored twice more in the 2nd against RHP Kevin Jepsen when Darwin Barney reached on an E-4, and after Fukudome forced Barney at 2nd, Castro roped a triple into the left-center alley to score Fukudome, before Byrd singled to score Castro.
The Cubs finished their scoring in the 4th against RHP Rich Thompson. Fukudome blooped a single to short CF to lead-off the inning, and Pena walked with two outs, before Geovany Soto hit a sky-high wind-aided fly ball over the centefielder's head for a two-run double (although Soto was thrown-out inexplicably trying to stretch it into a triple).
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump