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.
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!