Castro Casts Seattle Boat People Adrift
Starlin Castro drilled a three-run double to cap a four-run 7th inning rally, as the Cubs defeated the Seattle Mariners 6-3 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon
Randy Wells got the start for the Cubs, and worked 5.2 IP (91 pitches - 56 strikes), allowing three runs (all earned) on five hits and three walks, while striking out eight. Overall he pitched very well, especially innings two and onward.
Wells did have a tough 26-pitch 1st inning, though, when the Mariners scored twice, as Wells walked Jack Wilson (after getting ahead 0-2) to lead-off the game, threw a Wild Pitch to move Wilson into scoring position, before surrendering an RBI single to Jack Cust to drive-in the first run of the game. Justin Smoak then doubled into the left-center power alley to score the slow-footed Cust from 1st base.
The Mariners scored their third run in the top of the 4th when Smoak ripped his second double of the game to lead off the inning, and, after Wells struck out Ryan Langerhans and retired Luis Rodriguez on a ground out, scored on an Adam Moore two-out line-drive RBI single to left.
Cub pitchers then threw one-hit shutout ball the rest of the way, retiring 16 of the last 19 Mariners. Sean Marshall threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 7th with two strikeouts and a GO. John Grabow pitched one inning (18 pitches - 11 strikes), allowing a lead-off walk before retiring the next three hitters (K, L-7, and 5-3), and finally Marcos Mateo put the Mariners away with some 9th inning gas (K, K, 5-3) for the Save. Mateo has had an impressive Spring Training, meaning he will probably be sent to Iowa.
With ex-CLE LHP Aaron Laffey working on a 3-0 shutout, the Cubs scored a run in the bottom of the 4th when Aramis Ramirez bounced a lead-off double off the head of Seattle second-baseman Jack Wilson (the ex-Pirate was diving for the ball and it doinked him in the head, before bounding into foul territory behind 1B), advanced to 3rd on a GO, and then scored on an RBI GO by Carlos Pena.
Blake DeWiit celebrated making the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster in style, absolutely crushing a solo HR off RHRP Tom Wilhelmsen with two outs in the bottom of the 5th far beyond the RF fence to get the Cubs within one run, and then the home team discharged their four-run rally in the bottom of the 7th to take the lead.
Facing LHRP Cesar Jimenez, Tyler Colvin drew a one-out walk, and advanced to 3rd base when PH Josh Vitters (up from Minor League Camp) roped a double down the LF line. Blake DeWitt reached on an infield hit to load the bases, and then Starlin Castro slammed his bases-clearing three-run double into the left-center power alley to give the Cubs the lead. The Cubs scored another run in the inning on a Reed Johnson two-out PH RBI double.
The Cubs should have had even more runs in the 7th, but they suffered a baserunning brain fart with Castro on 2nd and Marlon Byrd on 1st, one out, and Johnson at bat, where Castro was picked off 2nd base when the two runners left early on what was apparently going to be either a double-steal attempt or a hit & run. Byrd was able to move up to 2nd base on the play and scored on the Johnson RBI double.
The defensive highlight of the game for the Cubs (and for me) was probably the final play of the game, when 3B Josh Vitters aggressively charged a slow chopper, and made a strong, accurate, off-balance throw to 1st base to nip Chris Gimenez by a half-step. This was a play Vitters probably does not make in 2010.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.
Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.
I felt the same way, too, but...
I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.
Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.