Gordon Triple Ignites Dodgers at HoHoKam
Dee Gordon smacked a two-run triple to spark a three-run 7th, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-3 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternnon in sunny Mesa, AZ.
Gordon is the son of former MLB RHP (and one-time Cub closer) "Flash" Gordon.
NOTE: UPDATED MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS IN COMMENTS SECTION
Ryan Dempster got the start for the Cubs, and although he allowed only one run, he labored throughout his 4.1 IP (80 pitches - only 44 strikes). He got behind in the count frequently and had trouble putting hitters away, and through the 3rd inning he had thrown only 50% of his pitches for strikes. He was a little bit better in his last two innings, but overall it was a mediocre performance, coming on the heels of a poor outing at Fitch Park last Sunday, when he got rocked by the Inland Empire 66ers (Los Angeles Angels Hi-A affiliate) in a Minor League Spring Training game.
Battling for a spot in a revamped Cub bullpen, veteran right-hander (and one-time Rockies closer) Manny Corpas worked the 6th and part of the 7th, cruising through his first inning of work before (apparently) running out of gas and getting tagged for three runs in the 7th. Corpas continues to vary his delivery, changing his arm angle from pitch-to-pitch. He has been fairly successful with the smoke-and-mirrors approach so far, at least up until the top of te 7th in today's game.
Rule 5 RHP Lendy Castillo relieved Corpas and immediately gave-up an inherited run on an RBI single, and then got into his own jam in the top of the 8th, allowing a run on a double, a walk, and a single (and a throwing error on a pick-off attempt at 2nd base). He is a very raw talent who really needs to pitch at AA, or maybe even at Hi-A.
The Cubs offense was mostly dormant today, although Alfonso Soriano did drill an RBI double into the LF corner, and Ian Stewart did whack a towering solo HR over the RF fence and beyond the two bullpens. Stewart has a lot of the same offensive attrributes as Carlos Pena (at least when his wrist isn't bothering him), so now the Cubs just have to find a replacement in the batting order for Aramis Ramirez.and his 26 HR, 35 doubles, and 96 RBI.
The Cubs should have had at least one more run, but David DeJesus continues his long day's journey through Spring Training with weak at bats and base-running gaffes. Yesterday DeJesus was sent to Fitch Park to get as many ABs as possible in two intrasquad games played at Camp Day (going back-and-forth between one field and the other), but he struggled to hit minor league pitchers there. Today he reached base in the bottom of the 1st on an infield hit that bounced off the 1st bag and into the air, barely beating the throw (with the pitcher covering), and then inexplicably taking a step toward 2nd base, subjecting himself to getting tagged out. Fortunately the Dodgers were just as brain-dead as DeJesus, and he was able to get back safely to 1st.
But it didn't end there.
Darwin Barney grounded out 6-3 on a hit & run play, allowing DeJesus to get to 2nd with one out, before Starlin Castro laced a double into the LF corner that certainly should have scored DeJesus easily from 2nd. But DeJesus stumbled around 3rd base before falling on his face, getting back to 3rd just ahead of the throw. Bryan LaHair then struck out and Soriano flied out, leaving DeJesus stranded at 3rd.
Darwin Barney made the defensive play of the day, ranging into short CF and diving for a ball, and then (from his knees) throwing out the LAD runner at 1st base.
The Cubs two main problems (and they are major problems) are a leaky bullpen and a lineup that often will struggle to score runs, and I doubt that the Cubs can do much to fix the problems at this time.
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.