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.
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.
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?