Cubs Pitchers Loosen Up Rockies with 19 Strikeouts
Doug Davis threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, Todd Wellemeyer threw a 1-2-3 13-pitch inning, and Matt Loosen struck out eight in just 2.2 IP, as five EXST Cubs pitchers struck out 19 EXST Rockies batters en route to a 3-2 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Although the Cubs were ahead 3-0 after the end of the Rockies 9th, the game was extended to 11 innings so that additional Cubs and Rockies pitchers could get their pre-scheduled work.
Making his second start since signing a minor league contract with the Cubs last week, Davis (post-2010 elbow surgery rehab) made quick work of the Rockies, needing just 24 pitches (20 strikes) to retire nine of the ten men he faced. The only blemish was a two-out triple in the right-center gap in the top of the 1st inning, and that runner was left-stranded. Davis struck out two (both swinging), and had a 6/1 GO/FO rate, as his sinker was working very well. The veteran soft-tossing lefty kept the young Rockies hitters off-balance throughout his three-inning stint, mixing an 84 MPH sinker with a curve and a change-up.
Todd Wellemeyer (sore hip rehab) followed Davis to the mound, and had an easy 1-2-3 4th inning (F-8, 4-3, K), retiring the side on 13 pitches (nine strikes).
Because they threw so few pitches in the EXST game on Field #3, both Davis and Wellemeyer moved over to Field #2 to pitch in a “sim game” that was already in progress (Dustin Fitzgerald and Ramon Garcia had just completed their two innings), and threw an additional inning (15 pitches) each on top of their EXST game work.
RHP Matt Loosen (Cubs 2010 23rd round pick out of the U. of Jacksonville) took the mound to start the top of the 5th, and had an outstanding outing, striking out eight (seven swinging) in just 2.2 IP. Loosen did allow a double and he hit a batter, but he was mostly just plain unhittable. In two EXST outings so far, Loosen has thrown 6.1 IP of shutout ball, allowing three hits, one HBP, and no walks, with 10 strikeouts. He would likely be at the top of the list should the Cubs look to promote a pitcher from Extended Spring Training to Peoria.
RHP Yao-Lin Wang also threw 2.2 IP of shutout ball today, allowing a single and a walk, with three strikeouts (two swinging).
LHP Casey Harman was the one Cub pitcher who did allow runs today, giving up two (both earned) on three hits (two triples and an inside-the-park HR), although he did strike out five (four swinging).
The Cubs scored single runs in the 1st, 5th, and 8th innings. Kyung-Min Na led off the bottom of the 1st by scalding a single through the box, and scored on a one-out Wilson Contreras RBI double. Jesus Morelli reached base on an error to start the 5th, advanced to 3rd base on a two-base throwing error (errant pick-off attempt), and scored on a line drive SF to left by Johan DeJesus. Morelli then finished the Cubs scoring with a solo HR over the LF fence and onto 8th Street to open the bottom of the 8th.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (1B, P-6, L-9, 4-3, R)
2. Dustin Harrington, SS: 1-4 (6-3, 6-3, F-9, 1B)
3. Wilson Contreras, 1B: 2-4 (2B, 5-3, 5-3, 1B, RBI, CS)
4. Dong-Yub Kim, DH #1: 1-4 (1B, F-7, K, K)
5. Dustin Geiger, 3B: 1-4 (P-2, K, 1-3, 1B)
6. Jesus Morelli, RF: 1-4 (5-3, E-6, HR, 4-3, 2 R, RBI)
7a. Johan DeJesus, C-DH: 0-2 (5-3, L-7 SF, K, RBI)
7b. Max Kwan, PH: 0-1 (5-3)
8. Eduardo Gonzalez, LF: 0-3 (K, 3-1, 6-3)
9. Hector Suarez, DH-C: 0-3 (3-1, K, 4-3)
10. Gregori Gonzalez, 2B: 0-3 (K, 3-1, P-4)
1. Doug Davis: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 24 pitches (20 strikes), 6/1 GO/FO
2. Todd Wellemeyer: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 13 pitches (9 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
3. Matt Loosen: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 47 pitches (35 strikes)
4. Yao-Lin Wang: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 46 pitches (29 strikes), 2/3 GO/FO
5. Casey Harman: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 33 pitches (26 strikes)
3B Dustin Geiger E5 – fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely
WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 80’s
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.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?