Hail to Szczur!
Matt Szczur drove-in six runs with a two-run double and a grand slam home run, Brett Jackson slugged a solo home run, ripped an RBI double, walked twice, and scored three runs, and Tony Campana singled and scored in all three of his at bats, stole a base, and drove-in a run, leading one squad of Cubs to a 10-4 victory over another squad of Cubs in an intrasquad game played at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny, blustery, and cool Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
The game was a pre-planned six-inning affair.
Brett Jackson got things started for the Rick Sutcliffe Squad, leading off the game by blasting a towering HR on a 1-2 pitch over the 390-foot sign in right-center off LHP Travis Wood. Matt Szczur followed with an opposite-field line-drive single over the 1st baseman’s head into short RF, and after advancing a base on a ground out, scored all the way from 2nd on a Reed Johnson sacrifice fly caught against the RF fence by David DeJesus. (Szczur did not hesitate rounding 3rd base, and scored easily, without a play at the plate).
The Sutcliffe Squad added to their lead in the top of the 2nd, as Szczur roped an opposite-field grand slam HR over the RF fence, driving in Junior Lake (who had led-off the inning with a line-drive single to left), Tony Campana (reached base on a line-drive single over SS Starlin Castro’s head), and Brett Jackson (walked to load the bases). The inning was stopped with one out (“roll it!”) after T. Wood hit Jeff Baker with a pitch and Anthony Rizzo lined a single past first-baseman Bryan LaHair into RF.
After being set-down 1-2-3 by Randy Wells in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Dale Sveum Squad plated three runs and cut the lead in half in the 2nd. The squad loaded the bases with one out, as Marlon Byrd roped a sizzling double down the line and into the LF corner, David DeJesus drew a walk, and Blake Lalli reached on a single. Darwin Barwin then chopped an RBI bouncer to Josh Vitters at 3rd base, who was able to get a force-out at 2nd before Jeff Baker threw the relay past 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo and into the 1st base dugout, allowing a second runner to score. Blake DeWitt followed with a line-drive RBI single off a diving Jeff Baker's glove to score Barney from 2nd base. (DeWitt had three line-drive singles in three AB, one to RF, one to CF, and one to LF).
The Sutcliffe crew came back with a run in the 4th and three more in the 6th off Andy Sonnanstine.
Brett Jackson creamed a line-drive RBI double over CF Marlon Byrd’s head (Byrd got all turned around trying to track the ball), scoring Tony Campana from 2nd base in the 4th (Campana had gone back to tag-up at 2nd, so he had to really turn on the “after-burners” to beat Darwin Barney’s relay throw home), and Campana smacked an RBI single and Matt Szczur cracked a two-run double in the 6th (this inning was also stopped before two outs, when Sonnanstine reached his max pitch count for the day).
The Sveum Group scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the 6th, on a Darwin Barney 4-6-3 DP ball.
Four pitchers worked in the game (two for each squad), with each pitcher throwing three innings (although two of the innings were stopped before a third out was recorded). None of the pitchers were particularly effective, although Casey Coleman allowed only one run in his three-inning stint.
Alfonso Soriano hit lead-off for the Sveum Squad, the first time he’s done that in a while. It didn’t provide much in the way of a spark, however, as Sori went 0-4 with two strike outs.
Other than Marlon Byrd playing the B-Jax line-drive into an RBI double, the bad relay throw by Jeff Baker that allowed an unearned run to score, and a harmless E-6 (bobble) by SS Junior Lake, the defense looked OK.
This was the first intrasquad game played by the Cubs prior to the start of Cactus League play since 2006. The Cubs did play an intrasquad game as their last Spring Training game last year, but both Lou Piniella and Mike Quade favored simple work-outs (BP and fielding practice) at HoHoKam Park on the two days prior to the start of Cactus League play.
There is no "official scorer" for Spring Training intrasquad games, so here is the unofficial box score:
SUTCLIFFE SQUAD LINEUP:
1. Brett Jackson, CF: 2-2 (HR, BB, 2B, BB, 3 R, 2 RBI)
2. Matt Szczur, LF: 3-4 (1B, HR, L-7, 2B, 2 R, 6 RBI)
3. Jeff Baker, 2B: 0-2 (5-3, HBP, 4-3)
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B: 1-2 (BB, 1B, K)
5. Reed Johnson, RF: 0-2 (F-9 SF, P-4, F-8, RBI)
6. Josh Vitters: 3B: 0-3 (6-3, 5-3, 5-3)
7. Junior Lake, SS: 2-3 (1B, 6-3, 1B, 2 R, SB)
8. Michael Brenly, C: 0-3 (P-4, F-9, F-9)
9. Tony Campana, DH: 3-3 (1B, 1B, 1B, 3 R, RBI, SB)
SVEUM SQUAD LINEUP:
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF: 0-4 (6-3, P-6, K, K)
2. Ian Stewart, 3B: 0-3 (K, 4-3, 4-3)
3. Starlin Castro, SS: 0-3 (5-3, 5-3, E-6, CS)
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B: 1-3 (F-7, 1B, 4-3)
5. Marlon Byrd, CF: 1-2 (2B, BB, P-4, R)
6. David DeJesus: RF: 1-1 (BB, BB, 1B, 2 R)
7. Blake Lalli, C: 2-3 (1B, 6-U FC, 1B)
8. Darwin Barney, 2B: 0-3 (5-4 FC+E-4, F-8, 4-6-3 DP, R, RBI)
9. Blake DeWitt, DH: 3-3 (1B, 1B, 1B, RBI)
SUTCLIFFE SQUAD PITCHERS:
1. Randy Wells: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 60 pitches (30 strikes), 6/2 GO/FO
2. Casey Coleman: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 52 pitches (34 strikes), 4/2 GO/FO
SVEUM SQUAD PITCHERS:
1. Travis Wood: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R (6 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 2 HR, 60 pitches (36 strikers), 4/3 GO/FO
2. Andy Sonnanstine: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 57 pitches (31 strikes), 2/4 GO/FO
NOTE: Travis Wood’s second inning was stopped with runners at 1st & 2nd and only one out when he reached his max pitch limit for that inning, and Andy Sonnanstine’s last inning was stopped with a runner on 2nd base and only one out when he reached his max pitch limit for the day
SUTCLIFFE SQUAD ERRORS: (2)
1. 2B Jeff Baker E-4 – errant relay throw to 1st base while attempting to complete 5-4-3 DP allowed runner to score from 3rd base and batter-runner to advance to 2nd base
2. SS Junior Lake E-6 – bobbled ground ball allowing batter to reach base safely
SVEUM SQUAD ERRORS: NONE
Michael Brenly: 1-1 CS
Blake Lalli: 0-2 CS, 1 PB
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.