A's Rough Up Cubs Cuban Connection at Papago Park
Rob Whitenack (rehabbing from June 2011 TJS) threw two innings (27 pitches) of shutout ball with three strikeouts, but Cuban southpaws Gerardo Concepcion and Frank del Valle allowed a combined seven runs on 10 hits, five walks, a HBP, and two wild pitches over the next six innings, as the Athletics defeated the Cubs 7-4 in Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA “Connie Mack Field”) at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix, AZ.
After throwing three innings of shutout ball and looking like a major league veteran in his EXST debut last Monday versus the Brewers (when he threw 75% strikes and kept the opposing hitters off-balance by effectively mixing-up his pitches), Concepcion showed today what happens when he pitches from behind in the count and has to throw a fastball over the plate.
He had an excellent first inning of work, striking out the side (including the first two hitters on six pitches), but then began to pitch from behind starting with his second inning, eventually allowing six hits (including three wall-banger doubles), and even walking the bases loaded at one point.
Concepcion's strength is throwing strikes (especially "strike one") and then working the hitter, so when he struggles with his command (as he did in his later innings today) he can get nailed, and it isn't pretty.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
1. Shawon Dunston, Jr, CF: 1-4 (1B, 4-6 FC, F-9, L-4, SB)
2. Anthony Giansanti, DH #1: 0-4 (K, K, F-8, P-3)
3. Dan Vogelbach, 1B: 1-3 (BB, K, 2B, 4-3)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B-DH: 1-3 (1-3, 2B, 5-3, R)
5. Xavier Batista RF-DH: 1-3 (F-8, 1B, L-3, RBI)
6. Wilson Contreras, DH-C: 1-3 (3-U, 5-4-3 DP, 2B, R)
7. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 2-3 (1B, K, 2B, R)
8. Wilfredo Petit, C-DH: 0-2 (F-7, 6-3, BB)
9. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-3 (K, 4-3, 5-4 FC, R)
10. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-3 (1B, K, 1B, RBI)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Delbis Arcila, RF: 1-2 (K, 1B, RBI)
12a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
12b. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-2 (6-3, 3-1)
1. Rob Whitenack: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 27 pitches (20 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
2. Gerardo Concepcion: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 69 pitches (41 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
3. Frank del Valle: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 77 pitches (36 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 17 pitches (10 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. SS Carlos Penalver - E-6 (overthrow to 1st base on infield single allowed batter-runner to advance to 2nd base)
2. C Wilson Contreras - E-2 (errant pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed base-runner to advance to 2nd base)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Wilfredo Petit: 0-1 CS
2. Wilson Contreras 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy and VERY breezy with temperatures in the 60’s
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.