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.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.