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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.