Shark Attacks the Tribe with Goose Eggs at HoHoKam Park

In what was one of the better performances by a Cubs starting pitcher at HoHoKam Park in quite some time, Jeff Samardzija showed Top-of-the-Rotation stuff while throwing six innings of shutout ball (67 pitches - 43 strikes), allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five. Three relievers followed with three more shutout innings, as the Cubs blanked the Cleveland Indians 2-0 in Cactus League action this afternoon in Mesa, AZ.  


Facing a mostly MLB-lineup, Samardzija absolutely breezed through his six innings of work, and after being relieved he went out to the bullpen and threw another 15 pitches, apparently so that he could reach his target of 80+ pitches.


If there was any doubt that Samardzija has the quality and variety of stuff and the stamina to be an MLB starting pitcher, today's outing should go a long way toward allaying those concerns. For example, he got three pop ups in a 1-2-3 4th, struck out the side with gas in a 1-2-3 5th, and got four grounders (one of which was a single) in the 6th (his last inning).


In addition to his pitching exploits, The Shark also ripped a lead-off triple into the LF alley in the bottom of the 5th, long-striding his way around the bases--like running a post-pattern at Notre Dame--before pulling into 3rd base standing up. Unfortunately the next three hitters went down on a feeble ground out and two weak pop ups to leave the Shark stranded at 3rd, but it was impressive none-the-less.


The Cub offense was equally weak against Tribe starter Josh Tomlin as the Cleveland hitters were against Samardzija, before breaking through against the obviously-tiring RHP in the bottom of the 6th.


Alfonso Soriano laced a top-spin liner to left to open the frame, and (with the Indians 1st baseman holding Soriano at 1st) Ian Stewart ripped a single through the wide-open 3.5 hole into RF with one out. Bryan LaHair and Joe Mather followed with RBI singles to plate two runs, giving the Cubs all the runs they needed.


Carlos Marmol worked the 7th, allowing a walk that was quickly erased on an inning-ending strike 'em out/throw 'em out (thanks to an on-the-dime throw to 2nd base by Steve Clevenger that nabbed Ryan Spliborghs).


James Russell allowed two hits in the 8th (a Felix Pie single and a two-out Asdrubal Cabera double), but struck out dangerous Shin-Soo Choo (swinging) on a nasty 3-2 breaking ball in the dirt to get out of the inning.


"On the bubble" for one of the last remaining slots in the Cub bullpen, Rafael Dolis worked a hitless 9th to get the save, but he did struggle with his command, walking two before getting a bat-breaking game-ending 6-3 ground out.


The defensive plays of the game were two nearly-identical over-the-shoulder catches by Starlin Castro in LF foul territory that brought back memories of Shawon Dunston. No shortstop was better than Dunston at catching pop-ups in the outfield, but Castro showed he can make those kinds of plays, too.


Castro also made another nice play on a grounder headed for CF, fielding the ball and getting off an off-balance throw to 1st baseman Bryan LaHair. The runner was called out (although it appeared that LaHair was not on the bag), but whether called safe or out, it was a very fine play indeed.


3rd baseman Ian Stewart also made a nice play on an infield chopper with a runner at 1st base and one out in the top of th 2nd, charging the ball and then rotating his body in the air to throw out the runner at 2nd base. I think Aramis Ramirez might have made the play and maybe gotten an out at 1st base, but no way A-Ram would have thrown out the lead runner at 2nd base. That took the kind of defensive skills and confidence that Stewart has that Ramirez lacks in the field.

Comments

Beating bad teams always feels good.

Wed, 03/28/2012 - 7:13pm — John Beasley

Beating bad teams always feels good.

========================

JOHN B: You mean like when Ryan Dempster got ripped by the Inland Empire 66ers at Fitch Park last Sunday?

That's more like a bunch of nobodies beating a has-been. Plus, he's OUR has-been.

You could have acknowledged a couple positives highlighted here to float above your Cubs misery - but I guess not...

It'd be nice to see the Cubs beat the bad teams. Beat the bad teams and hold your own against the good teams. That's the way of baseball.

from a Keith Law blog...

...I got to see only two swings out of Chicago Cubs outfielder Taiwan Easterling, but he's some kind of athlete, including explosive speed out of the box. There's a lot of ceiling here, assuming he finds some modicum of plate discipline -- he's a former football Florida State football player who has limited wood-bat experience, and drew just nine walks in more than 200 minor plate appearances after signing last summer.

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog/_/name/la...

I think one of the most pleasant things to watch about the 2012 Cubs is the likelihood that we'll see some decent defense out in the field. Few things are as satisfying to watch than a slick-fielding major league baseball team. The Cubs aren't there yet, obviously, but for the first time in quite awhile they are moving in that direction instead of away from it, and I for one am glad to see it. Moar good glove stuff, pleez.

g. love

AZ Phil any idea why the Cubs released Cam Greathouse? I know you had shown that he was missing from camp. Whats up with this deal?

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 9:10am — ced landrum

AZ Phil any idea why the Cubs released Cam Greathouse? I know you had shown that he was missing from camp. Whats up with this deal?

=========================

CED: The last I heard from somebody with the Cubs (a couple of weeks ago) was that Cam Greathouse had been given permission to report late, and that he would be at Extended Spring Training.

I wasn't aware that he had been released, although it is possible that he was.

Goldstein tweet says he was released, think he posted it late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Greathouse's twitter account said something about "going through these hard times"

https://twitter.com/camgreathouse

he recently had a daughter and is sick now as well.

4 days ago he was still a Cub according to a tweet.

his hard times = the cold he has fwiw.

Ohhhhhh. That's rough.

Recent comments

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  • Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.

    billybucks 27 min 26 sec ago view
  • ...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.

    I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.

    He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.

    billybucks 31 min 23 sec ago view
  • How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.

    videographer 2 hours 25 min ago view
  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 4 hours 13 min ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 4 hours 48 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 5 hours 1 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 6 hours 25 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 26 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 32 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 6 hours 36 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 39 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 6 hours 48 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 50 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 6 hours 56 min ago view
  • QuietMan 7 hours 4 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 7 hours 23 min ago view