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.
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?
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.