Final Tune-Up for Garza Sucks Gas
A. J. Pollack reached base five times on four singles and a walk, Kelly Johnson had four hits including a double and a three-run HR, ex-Cub Xavier Nady had four hits (including a grand slam HR) and scored three runs, and David Winfree had three hits including a solo HR and a three-run HR, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 15-8 drubbing of the Cubs in what was the final Cactus League game for the Cubs (although they will be playing what's billed as an "intrasquad charity game" tomorrow morning at Dwight Patterson Field before flying to Chicago later in the day).
RHP Matt Garza got the start for the Cubs today, his final Spring Training tune-up. And he did not have a good day, allowing seven runs on 11 hits (including one double and one HR) and two walks in 3+ innings of work (92 pitches - 63 strikes). The one positive note was seven strikeouts in just 3.0 IP, and he did make some good pitches every now & then, but he was mostly pitching out of the stretch all day.
Four of the first five D'back hitters singled in the 1st, but Arizona could only plate one run thanks to a diving stop by 2B Jeff Baker behind 2nd base that kept the bases loaded ("Keep it in the infield!" as the coaches say), allowing Garza to pitch out of the jam by striking out the side, although he did throwc 24 pitches (17 strikes) in the process.
After throwing a scoreless 2nd inning (two two-out singles around an F-7, a K, and and an L-7), Garza had troubles again in the top of the 3rd, as Xavier Nady and Ryan Wheeler singled and David Winfree lined a three-run HR over the LF fence to give the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs came back in the bottom of the 3rd against AZ starter LHP Joe Saunders, putting up a five-spot and taking the lead. With one out, Reed Johnson was hit on the foot by a pitch, and moved up to third when Starlin Castro ripped a double down the LF line (it hit the 3rd base bag). Jeff Baker grounded a single to left to score Johnson, and then Aramis Ramirez roped a line-drive single to score Castro. Geovany Soto grounded a single to left to load the bases, before Carlos Pena came through with a bases-clearing three-run double into the left-center alley to give the Cubs the lead.
But the D'backs came right back in the top of the 4th, loading the bases against Garza on a Kelly Johnson double and two walks (Garza was obviously tiring once he hit 80 pitches). LHP Scott Maine (up from Minor League Camp) relieved Garza and had a REALLY bad inning, giving up a towering grand slam HR to Nady, another long ball (solo shot) to David Winfree, and finally, after Aramis Ramirez made a lazy throw to 1st base resulting in an E-5 that prolonged the inning, a three-run HR over the right-centerfield fence to Kelly Johnson (batting for the second time in the inning). In just 1.0 IP, Maine allowed five runs (although technically only two were earned) and four hits (including three HR). Maine also threw 31 pitches (20 strikes) to get through the one inning, an inning he will likely try very hard to forget.
Now down 12-5, the Cubs back again in the bottom of the 4th against Joe Saunders, as PH Nate Samson (up from Minor League Camp) reached base on an E-5, Starlin Castro drew a one-out walk, and Jeff Baker lined an RBI single to left. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases, Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly to CF to score Castro from 3rd, and after LHRP Joe Paterson hit Carlos Pena with a pitch to re-load the bases, all the runners moved up (and PR Darwin Barney scored) when Paterson committed a bases-loaded balk (something you don't see everyday).
So the Cubs were back in the game, down just 12-8, going into the 5th.
RHP Jeff Samardzija (who had been pitching better lately) relieved Maine to start the 5th inning, and immediately got into trouble, allowing back-to-back lead off ground ball singles to Miguel Montero and Xavier Nady. Ryan Wheeler walked to load the bases, but Samardzija struck out David Winfree, who had already hit two HR in the game. However, The Shark's control just wasn't there when he needed it, and he walked Cody Ransom with the bases loaded to force-in a run, before surrendering a SF to plate a second run. Samardzija then walked the bases loaded again, before retiring Kelly Johnson on a line drive to CF.
Samardzija threw a whopping 42 pitches (only 23 strikes) in just one inning of work, and Geovany Soto caught 177 pitches through just the first five innings! (Give that man a Dr. Pepper, please).
RHP Esmailin Caridad (up from Minor League Camp threw two decent innings (6th and 7th), allowing a run on two hits and an HBP with one strikeout (28 pitches - 21 strikes, 2/3 GO/FO), and both Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood threw 1-2-3 innings (both with one strikeout and a 1/1 GO/FO).
But the Cub offense went silent after scoring in the 4th, getting shut down on just one hit (a Matt Spencer line-drive single to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the 9th) over the final five innings. Even though they scored eight runs, the Cubs did so on only seven hits, although they did draw six walks along the way.
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.