Alfonso Soriano for DH! (Vote Early & Often)
Alfonso Soriano homered twice and Brett Jackson whacked a three-run home run, leading the Cubs to an 11-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm, sunny, and windy (sometimes VERY windy) Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Matt Garza was the Cubs starting pitcher, and he worked two innings (31 pitches – 22 strikes), allowing two runs on three hits and an HBP, no walks, and one strrikeout (Ramon Hernandez - looking). Garza threw a scoreless 1st inning, and then the Rockies plated both of their runs off Garza in the top of the 2nd.
Casey Blake was hit by a pitch leading-off the inning, and then Brandon Wood doubled off the CF batter’s eye, sending Blake to 3rd. Ex-Cub Tyler Colvin picked up an RBI with a 4-3 GO that scored Blake and moved Wood up to 3rd, and then after Garza got Chris Nelson on a pop up and looked like he might get out of the inning with only one run scoring, Wilkin Castillo roped an RBI single to left to score Wood.
After going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 1st against Rockies RH starter Guillermo Moscoso, the Cubs put up a four-spot in the bottom of the 2nd.
DH and clean-up hitter Alfonso Soriano smacked a solo HR off the Wells Fargo sign at the top of the scoreboard beyond the LF fence to get things started, and then with two outs, Anthony Rizzo ripped a rocket line-drive single to right center and Welington Castillo doubled down the LF line, putting runners at 2nd & 3rd. Brett Jackson then blasted a moon-shot three-run HR over the RF fence and into the Rockies bullpen, giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
The Cubs scored another run in the bottom of the 3rd, as Alfonso Soriano smoked a lead-off double off the CF batter’s eye, and then with two outs, scored from 3rd on an Anthony Rizzo two-out RBI infield single. (Rizzo showed good speed going down the line).
RHP Casey Coleman worked the 3rd & 4th innings for the Cubs and had a decent two-inning stint, throwing shutout ball, while allowing consecutive two-out singles in the 4th.
LHP James Russell pitched the 6th, and allowed a lead-off HR to Dexter Fowler that hit the scoreboard in almost the exact same spot Soriano's 1st inning HR did earlier. Russell then gave-up two more hits (both singles), before inducing Ramon Hernandez to ground into a much-needed 6-4-3 DP and getting Casey Blake on a fly out to end the inning. Russell is expected to be the Cubs #1 lefty specialist this season, but he faced only RH hitters today (Fowler-Pacheco-Cuddyer-Hernandez-Blake).
Up 5-3 through 4-1/2 innings, the Cubs scored four runs in the bottom of the 5th against Rockies RHRP Zach Putnam.
Blake DeWitt continued his hot hitting, lining a lead-off single to center. Alfonso Soriano then hit his second HR of the day, a line-drive two-run shot just inside the LF foul pole. Ian Stewart walked, and Junior Lake ripped a double down the LF line, sending Stewart to 3rd. Anthony Rizzo grounded out 4-3 to score Stewart and move Lake up to 3rd, and then Welington Castillo grounded a sharply-hit single between 2nd & 3rd to knock-in Lake with the inning’s final run.
NRI LHP Chris Rusin threw the 6th & 7th innings for the Cubs, allowing one hit and one run (a Tyler Colvin triple followed by an RBI gound out in the 6th), and two walks and no runs in the 7th. Rusin works slow and really likes to nibble, and went 3-2 on several of the Colorado hitters.
The Cubs finished their scoring in the 7th, tallying twice. Jonathon Mota led-off the inning with a bloop single, and scored on a Joe Mather triple. Then after Michael Brenly grounded out (with the runner holding at 3rd), Mather scored on Jae-Hoon Ha grounder, beating the throw home by Rockies 3B (and ex-Cub) Brendan Harris. (Mather has good speed for a big guy)
The Cub Defensive Play of the Day was a spectacular catch by CF Jim Adduci, who made a long run and then caught a fly in deep right-center, crashing into the fence in the process. Adduci also showed-off his plus arm, making an outstanding throw to 2nd from the base of the CF batter’s eye after fielding a double the previous inning.
The 26-year old Adduci was acquired by the Cubs from the Marlins a few years ago in the Todd Wellemeyer deal, and has spent five seasons in the Cub organization. Like several other Cub minor leaguers presently in big league camp, Adduci was a Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agent (6YFA) after last season, but opted to re-sign with the Cubs, getting an NRI as part of the deal.
Adduci is an outstanding defensive outfielder with a plus-arm, and he can play all three OF spots. He also has above-average speed for a big guy, and is both a good base-runner and a good base-stealer. And he has a good eye at the plate, too. He will likely be the "4th OF" at Iowa in 2012.
What has held him back over the years is that while he is built like the Incredible Hulk, he has Tony Campana power (.356 career SLG %). He is essentially a “singles hitter,” and even at that, his hit tool is just so-so (career .279 hitter in the minors, but only .248 at AAA).
That said, I could see Adduci maybe making it as an MLB “5th OF” someday (late-inning defensive replacement & PR). One thing for sure, he certainly won’t hurt a team with his defense or his base-running.
The Cubs play their first Cactus League road game tomorrow, facing the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. With the Rockies and the Diamondbacks having moved up to the Valley of the Sun from Tucson last year, the Mesa-Surprise bus trip is now the longest one in the Cactus League… it takes about an hour).
JOHN B: Pierce Johnson and Rob Zastryzny were likely 2015 AFL candidates ( I mentioned them as likely candidates to get assigned to the AFL in an article about the AFL last month) because they are starting pitchers who missed part of the season due to injuries and they need to accrue more innings. Guys who have been pitching regularly as starters have thrown too many innings to be considered, so it probably came down to Johnson, Zastryzny, and Duane Underwood Jr, with Underwood odd man out because he hasn't pitched above Hi-A.
Schwarber stays back and hammers a 3-2 change-up that was down and away. Very impressive.
And a good job to drive the ball to RF to advance the runner in the 8th. Encouraging.
It looks like the Cubs "post-season clinch number" is 25 right now: http://lyle.smu.edu/~olinick/riot/national_league.html
Is the magic number 25 or 26?
Agreed, to my untrained eyes he does look better than last season. Not a finished product yet and hopefully he will continue to improve, but if he plays solid middle infield defense he will stick in the majors.
Phillips smiled at Strop and gave him a thumbs up.
That pitch Schwarber hit is the kind he's been missing a lot of lately. When Schwarber struggles it reminds me of how hard it is to hit baseballs at that level. It doesn't seem like they've found a weakness, just that he isn't seeing the ball that great and just missing. Same with Rizzo the last few days.
I missed it. What did he do?
extremely classy. i didn't see his reaction until the replay after the break. baseball needs more fun in some areas and less of some 'unwritten rules' violations leading to angst.
Nice bounce back game for Grimm, and "well done" Dan Haren. We'll take that (almost) every time.
I have never been a Brandon Phillips fan, but that was a very classy way to handle Strop yelling at him after the K.
go cubs go
You know you like it
AZ Phil: Any thoughts on the AFL Cubs? Some names on the list caught me by surprise.