Maholm Shoots Blanks at Friars
Paul Maholm and three relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout, as a split squad oif Cubs blanked the San Diego Padres 2-0 this afternoon in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, AZ
Maholm threw five innings of shutout ball (70 pitches - 40 strikes, 6/2 GO/FO), allowing no runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.
Carlos Marmol followed Maholm to the mound, and labored through his one inning of work, throwing 22 pitches while allowing a walk and a single, but no runs. Something still does not look right with Marmol.
Casey Coleman continued to pitch well in Cactus League games, tossing two shutout innings of one hit ball. It looks like Coleman could make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster as a RH middle-reliever or as the "12th man" (long reliever/spot starter).
RHP Rafael Dolis notched the save with a scoreles 9th, although two runners did reach base with two outs, one on a strike three wild pitch, and another on a walk, before Dolis induced a game-ending 4-3 ground out. Although there has been talk about Dolis beginning the season in the big leagues as one of the Cubs set-up men, it might be best to let him close at AAA Iowa for a while and work on improving his command.
There wasn't much offense on display at HoHoKam Park today, but the Cubs did push across a run in the 1st and then another run in the 2nd against Padres starter Tim Stauffer.
Starlin Castro singled with two outs in the 1st, and after stealing 2nd, scored on a Bryan LaHair two-out RBI double off the fence in right-centerfield, and Reed Johnson knocked-in the second Cub run on a two-out RBI ground single ripped through through the box into CF, scoring Jeff Baker, who led-off the inning with a screaming double into left-center.
What really stood out today, however, was the Cub outfield defense.
Tony Campana hustled to field a bloop hit down the LF line in the top of the 5th, and after a 360-spin, uncorked a perfect throw to 2nd base to nail Will Venable trying stretch the hit into a double, Reed Johnson followed Campana's play with a fine running catch on a line drive to end the 5th, and Daytina CF Matt Szczur (up from Minor League Camp for the day) made tte defensive play of the afternoon, a diving catch of a line-drive in right-center for the first-out in the top of the 9th.
While one squad of Cubs was blanking the Padres in Mesa, the other squad traveled up to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to play the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing 3-2.
I wasn't at that game, but D'backs starter Ian Kennedy threw seven innings of one-run ball, the only Cub run scoring on back-to-back doubles by Blake DeWitt and Ian Stewart in the top of the 7th.
Iowa Cubs RHP Jay Jackson got the start at Salt River Fields, and allowed all three of the Arizona runs on seven hits (including three doubles and a Paul Goldschmidt HR) and one walk over his four innings of work.
This was the last Cubs split squad day of the 2012 Cactus League season, so it would seem likely that the final roster cuts will be forthcoming soon.
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.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.