Volstad Act Prohibits Giants from Scoring
Anthony Rizzo crushed a tape-measure two run home run, Chris Volstad and Jay Jackson combined to throw six innings of five-hit one-run ball, and the Cubs withstood a late San Francisco rally, edging the Giants 5-4 in Cactus League action at warm & sunny Scottsdale Stadium this afternoon.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings, but the Cubs put two runs on the board against Giant LHSP Madison Bumgarner in the top of the 3rd. Starting pitcher Chris Volstad lined a lead-off single to RF, advanced to 3rd base on a David DeJesus double to the 430-foot sign in dead center (normally would have been a stand-up triple for DeJesus, except Volstad was “clogging the bases” in front of him), and then scored on a Darwin Barney ground out, with DeJesus moving up to 3rd. Starlin Castro then knocked-in DeJesus with an RBI single grounded through the 5.5 hole and into LF.
The Cubs scored another run off Bumgarner in the top of the 4th, as Steve Clevenger lined a single to right, and Josh Vitters ripped a pinch-hit opposite-field two-out RBI triple into the right-centerfield gap to score Clevenger from 1st.
Meanwhile Chris Volstad, Scott Maine, and Jay Jackson were shutting-down a mostly “A” team Giant lineup (Pagan-M. Cabrera-Sandoval-Posey-Huff-Belt-Theriot-Crawford), allowing just one run on six hits (and no walks) over the first seven innings.
Volstad and J. Jackson were particularly effective, each breezing through a three-inning stint.
Volstad threw three shutout innings (39 pitches – 25 strikes), allowing just one hit. The 6’8 right-hander had the Giant hitters beating his sinker into the ground throughout his three innings of work (7/1 GO/FO).
J. Jackson also threw three innings (37 pitches – 23 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO), surrendering a run in the 5th on an Angel Pagan two-out RBI triple (bad break on the ball and a poor route taken by CF Dave Sappelt), but he finished strong, retiring seven of the last eight men he faced. J-Jax's likely destination will be the Iowa Cubs starting rotation, but he has been very impressive so far this spring.
The Cubs added two more runs in the top of the 7th, as Adrian Cardenas ripped a two-out double into the RF corner, and scored when Anthony Rizzo clubbed a towering two-run 450+ foot HR over the Charro Party Pavilion well beyond the RF fence. (It was so obviously a homer run that none of the SF outfielders moved an inch, and the ball itself was last seen headed for Don & Charlie's for an early-bird special).
Battling for a job in the Cub bullpen, RHP Andy Sonnanstine fared poorly in the bottom of the 8th. The ex-Ray allowed three runs on five hits (including back-to-back ringing doubles leading off the inning), but one of the other hits was a nifty squeeze bunt single, and another should have been scored a FC because 3B Blake DeWitt tried to tag a runner going from 2nd to 3rd (he missed him), and then threw late to 1st base (there were two outs at the time… just throw the friggin’ ball to 1st base, Blake!).
23-year old RHP Alberto Cabrera (like Jay Jackson, also likely destined for Iowa) had a shaky 9th, but did manage to retire the side and pick-up the save (leaving the tying run stranded at 3rd).
Cubs 2012 Spring Training sensation Joe Mather got the start at 3B today, a position he has played before, although not much in recent years. Mather was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of HS as a shortstop, and was moved to 3B after his rookie season in the minors. He played 3rd base for the next three seasons in the minors after that, before being moved to corner OF and 1B.
The 29-year old Mather would obviously have a much better chance of making the 25-man roster if he shows the Cubs that he can play 3B and CF in addition to 1B-LF-RF, but wouldn’t you know it? Despite the ten Giant ground outs in the first five innings, Mather had only one ball hit to him at 3B (which he handled flawlessly, BTW) while he was in the game. (Mather was replaced by Blake DeWitt at 3B in the bottom of the 6th).
The Cubs return home to Mesa tomorrow, where they will be playing the Milwaukee Brewers at HoHoKam Park.
BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.