High Ho Silva
Battling for the 5th starter's job and perhaps his big league career, Carlos Silva threw six innings of three-hit ball, retiring 17 of the last 18 men he faced, and Reed Johnson--also battling for a spot on the 25-man roster--singled twice and scored two runs, leading the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Oakland A's in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon
I think most of us know that the Cubs were hoping to find a reason to not release Carlos Silva and pay him $8M ($6M in 2011 salary and a $2M buy-out in 2012) to not pitch for them, and perhaps today's outing did in fact secure the #5 starter job for the veteran Venezuelan.
Silva allowed a lead-off line drive single to Coco Crisp to open the game, and after Ryan Sweney fanned, Josh Willingham doubled into the left-center alley to score Crisp and give the A's a quick 1-0 lead. But Silva then retired 16 of the next 17 men he faced, and although many of the balls hit off him would best be described as "loud outs," he did get the job done, working quickly and (in the main) throwing strikes. And his defense made all the plays required to keep him from getting into jams.
For the day Silva allowed just the one first-inning run on three hits (two singles and a double), striking out three while issuing no walks, in 6.0 IP (78 pitches - 49 strikes, 6/5 GO/FO).
Casey Coleman threw a super-efficient 1-2-3 7th (8 pitches - 6 strikes, 0/3 GO/FO), Marcos Mateo pitched a shutout 8th (16 pitches - 9 strikes, 0/2 GO/FO), allowing just one harmless single while striking out Conor Jackson (although before striking out, Jackson just missed a moonshot game-tying home run down the LF line when the ball curved foul at the last minute), and Kerry Wood tossed an easy 1-2-3 11-pitch 9th (three ground balls) for the Save.
Meanwhile, the Cubs mustered just enough offense to outscore the A's, scoring twice in the bottom of the 1st, and then adding an insurance run in the 8th.
Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the 1st against A's LHSP Gio Gonzalez with a line-drive single tio left, and advanced to second when Starlin Castro walked. Jeff Baker struck out and Aramis Ramirez flied out, but Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with two-out RBI singles to score Johnson and Castro and give the Cubs an early 2-1 lead.
The Cubs used "small ball" to score their final tally in the 8th against submariner RHRP Brad Ziegler. Reed Johnson laid down a perfect bunt single into the "Bermuda Triangle" between the pitcher, the first-baseman, and the second-baseman to lead-off the inning, Matt Camp executed a textbook sac bunt to advance Johnson to 2nd, and after PH Blake DeWitt bounced out to the shortstop (with Johnson advancing to 3rd), the A's opted to intentionally walk Scott Moore to get to right-handed hitting Welington Castillo. But the plan backfired, as W. Castillo took a walk on a very close 3-2 pitch to load the bases, before Alfonso Soriano was hit by a pitch on the left leg to force-in a run and give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
If Silva does in fact get the #5 starter's job, that moves Andrew Cashner to the bullpen, leaving one open spot in the pen to be filled by either Casey Coleman, James Russell, Marcos Mateo, Jeff Stevens, or NRI RHP Braden Looper. Since Manager Mike Quade is probably going to want one guy who can throw long relief/multiple innings, Coleman, Russell, and Looper probably have the edge over Mateo and Stevens at this time.
With two hits, two runs scored, and a couple of nice catches in RF, Reed Johnson did nothing today to keep him from being the heavy favorite to capture the 5th OF job, especially since Fernando Perez has had several defensive lapses in games and is hitting just .147. F. Perez does have one minor league option left, so it would be no big deal to send him to Iowa to start the season.
And while Darwin Barney has almost certainly won the middle-infielder job (and may still be in the mix for at least a part-time gig at 2B), there would appear to be a battle between Blake DeWitt, Bobby Scales, and Scott Moore for the other infielder spot, since Jeff Baker has played well enough this Spring (hitting RHP with no difficulty, something he could not do last year) to perhaps be the everyday 2B. Like F. Perez, DeWiit has one minor league option left, and sending DeWitt to the minors for at least 100 days would keep him from being arbitration-eligible post-2011, not that that would be the only reason to option him out, but it is a factor to consider when making the final decision.
The Cubs play the White Sox tomorrow afternoon in Mesa.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
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.