Dustin X-Ackley What Mariners Need to Throttle Cubs
Dustin Ackley smashed a three-run home run to cap a four-run 5th inning, and Guillermo Quiroz cracked a two-run HR to finish the scoring in the 9th, as the Seattle Mariners drubbed the Cubs 10-3 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in cool & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Chris Volstad (acquired from the Marlins in exchange for Carlos Zambrano during the off-season) got the start for the Cubs and looked very good, retiring the first seven men he faced and throwing three innings of one-hit shutout ball (32 pitches – 18 strikes, 2/4 GO/FO). As was the case with Jeff Samardzija yesterday, Volstad had his scheduled two-inning stint extended by an inning after throwing only 17 pitches (combined) through his first two innings.
Kerry Wood followed Volstad to the mound, making his 2012 Cactus League debut. Woody threw a shutout inning, allowing a two-out Justin Smoak double that was rifled down the RF line. KW is always a fan favorite at HoHoKam.
Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd, slugging a lead-off solo HR just to the left of the “Green Monster” Batter’s Eye and off the roof of the CF refreshment stand. Sori has been on fire this week, as he appears be in the midst of one of his patented home run binges. The 36-year old Soriano may be just a one-dimensional player at this stage of his career, but that one dimension is an ability to hit gargantuan home runs.
Cub closer Carlos Marmol took the hill in the 5th, and he had a bad outing. He did rack-up a couple of strikeouts (both swinging), but otherwise he couldn’t even retire the side before having to be relieved. For the day, Marmol allowed four runs on four hits plus an HBP in 2/3 of an inning. Among the hits allowed was a Dustin Ackley three-run HR that landed above & beyond the RF bullpens.
RHP Blake Parker (competing for a RH middle-relief job) relieved Marmol and extinguished the fire in the 5th by striking out Justin Smoak, but the Mariners scored a run off Parker in the 6th on consecutive one-out hits before a “strike-‘em-out/throw-‘em-out” (in concert with catcher Welington Castillo) ended the inning.
Down 5-1 going into the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs scored two runs off Seattle RHRP Tom Wilhelmsen to make the score 5-3. Both of the runs were unearned, thanks to a couple of throwing errors, one by Wilhelmsen himself when he overthrew the first-baseman after fielding a strike three pitch that bounced off the catcher’s shin-guard and halfway out to the mound.
LHP Scott Maine did nothing to win the 2nd LH relief job, coming into the game in the top of 7th after the Cubs had scored two in the previous half-inning and promptly giving both runs back. Josh Vitters contributed to the problem with an E-5 throwing error, but the fact is Maine just could not throw strikes. He was all over the place, and ended-up walking the bases loaded and then surrendering a two-run double before getting yanked out of the game with the Cubs down 7-3.
RHP Alberto Cabrera relieved Maine, and although he got the last out in the 7th (leaving two runners stranded), he then gave up three consecutive hits leading off the 8th. 38-year old veteran LHRP Trever Miller came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, and did as well as probably could be expected under the circumstances, allowing one of the runners to score on a single, but also inducing a couple of comeback bouncers to the mound (one leading to a 1-2 FC, and the other beginning an inning-ending 1-2-3 DP).
RHRP Casey Weathers (competing with Blake Parker and several others for the RH middle-relief job) pitched the 9th, and he stunk, walking three, throwing two wild pitches, and allowing a two-run HR. (Weathers was the pitcher the Cubs got from the Rockies in the trade involving Ian Stewart, Tyler Colvin, and D. J. LeMahieu).
Cubs dead-head brain-fart Play of the Day was by Twins castoff infielder Matt Tolbert, who, with runners at 1st & 2nd and no outs, dived to stop a ball behind 2nd base, and then instead of tossing the ball six feet to a waiting Junior Lake (who was STANDING ON 2ND BASE) for an easy 4-6 force-out (the runner would have been out at 2nd by three or four steps), inexplicably decided to get to his feet and try to throw out the runner at 1st base (who had crossed the bag by the time the throw arrived). Not exactly Chris Webber calling timeout when his team had no timeouts left in an NCAA National Championship basketball game, but it was still a stupid decision.
The Cubs travel to the west-side tomorrow, where they will play the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
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.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.