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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.