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.
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 and Ted Abernathy 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?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.