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).
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.