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.
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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.
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump