Brandon Allen Rolls a Seven at HoHoKam
Brandon Allen drove-in seven runs with a grand slam home run, a two-run double, and an RBI ground out, leading the Oakland A’s to a hard-fought 12-10 victory over the Cubs in Opening Day Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Veteran RHP Rodrigo Lopez got the start for the Cubs and threw two perfect innings (18 pitches – 14 strikes with two punch-outs), as the game was scoreless through the top half of the 2nd inning.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd off A’s starter Brandon McCarthy, as Darwin Barney ripped a two-out line-drive two-run double into the left-center gap, scoring Marlon Byrd (who had singled) and Jeff Baker (reached base on a FC after a David DeJesus walk).
Closer Carlos Marmol worked a perfect 1-2-3 eight-pitch 3rd, and then the Cubs scored again in the bottom of the 3rd.
Alfonso Soriano blooped a lead-off single to left-center and Ian Stewart followed with a ground single back through the box. Soriano then came around 3rd to score when A’s SS Cliff Pennington made a bad throw to 1st base thanks to a hard-slide by Stewart, who successfully derailed what should have been an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
But then the wheels started to come off next inning, as the A’s put up a six-spot. 2011 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year Jeff Beliveau entered the game in the top of the 4th, and could not throw strikes (18 pitches – only 6 strikes). The lefty loaded the bases on two walks and a single, before walking in a run with his third free pass of the inning. Manager Dale Sveum pulled Beliveau at this point, bringing in 22-year old RHP Dae-Eun Rhee with no outs and the bases loaded.
Brandon Allen immediately unloaded the bases with a grand slam HR, blasted high & far over the RF fence and beyond the bullpens. Rhee surrendered another long ball two batters later, as Eric Sogard cranked a solo HR to give the A’s a 6-3 lead.
Oakland plated three more runs off Rhee in the 5th to take a 9-3 lead, as Brandon Allen ripped a two-run double before scoring on a Welington Castillo passed ball, but then W. Castillo lined a lead-off laser-beam HR over the LF fence in the bottom of the 6th to cut the lead to 9-4.
At this point, the Cubs starters (as per usual) were replaced by the “B” team.
In most years past, the 6th inning of a Cubs Spring Training game (especially early in Cactus League play) is when things stars to drag a bit, as the starters have left the game, replaced by a mostly-motley collection of 4-A players and second-rate prospects who hope to get some ST PT.
But maybe not so much this year.
With the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt, Adrian Cardenas, Jae-Hoon Ha, and Junior Lake now in the lineup, the Cubs JV showed their mettle, mounting a stirring comeback and scoring five times in the bottom of the 6th off A’s reliever Edgar Gonzalez to tie the game at 9-9. And it was really a lot of fun to watch, too.
Anthony Rizzo opened the inning with an opposite-field single fisted over the shortstop’s head, Brett Jackson drew a walk, and Jim Adduci ripped an opposite-field line-drive single to left to load the bases. Dave Sappelt grounded an RBI single through the 5.5 hole to score Rizzo, and then Adrian Cardenas (claimed off waivers from Oakland last month) smoked a bases-clearing three-run triple into the RF corner to plate Jackson-Adduci-Sappelt and cut the A’s lead to one run. (BTW, after the game, about a dozen A’s players lined-up in front of the Cubs dugout to give their former teammate a fist-bump & a hug). After Micah Gibbs popped-out weakly to the third-baseman, Jae-Hoon Ha fought-off a tough pitch and slapped a broken-bat single to right-center to score Cardenas with the tying run.
Cubs rookie reliever Rafael Dolis threw an easy 1-2-3 7th (1-3, P-4, K) to keep the score tied at nine (Cardenas made an outstanding sliding catch in foul territory for the second out of the inning), but the A’s took back the lead in the top of the 8th off Cubs Rule 5 Draft pick Lendy Castillo.
Ex-Cub Josh Donaldson drew a lead-walk, and advanced to 3rd on a picture-perfect hit & run single by Jeff Fiorentino that was directed at the spot second-baseman Cardenas had just vacated. Donaldson then scored on a 3-U ground out, when Cubs rookie 1B Anthony Rizzo made a bad decision, trying to touch the 1st base bag and then making the throw to the plate instead of going home with the ball immediately.
The Cubs re-tied the game in the bottom of the 8th, as Dave Sappelt drew a lead-off walk, and came around to score on a ground out and a two-out Jae-Hoon Ha infield single + E-5 throwing error by 3B Donaldson.
But the A’s took the lead for good in the top of the 9th, scoring twice off RHRP Marcos Mateo. Jason Pridle drew a one-out walk and Chris Carter doubled, putting runners at 2nd & 3rd. Pridle then scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a Brandon Allen ground-out (no play available at home), and PR Cedric Hunter scored an “insurance run” on a Josh Donaldson RBI single.
Mateo is out of minor league options, so the Cubs have until the end of Spring Training to decide if he has what it takes to pitch in a big league bullpen.
Travis Schlichting set the Cubs down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the victory.
The Cubs will play the A's again tomorrow afternoon at HoHoKam Park.
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.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.