Marte the Master of Destruction at Fitch Park
Miguel Marte and Jensi Peralta clubbed back-to-back home runs to highlight a six-run 9th, as the Athletics rallied to sting the Cubs 7-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.
The 6'3 230 Marte belted two home runs in the game, a solo blast leading off the top of the 4th to give the A's a 1-0 lead, and then a grand slam in the 9th that turned a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead.
Rob Whitenack (June 2011 TJS rehab) got the start for the Cubs and retired the first nine men he faced (the first seven on strikeouts, including Manny Ramirez). He did allow a solo HR, but otherwise was perfect through his four innings of work (49 pitches). In his seven EXST games, Whitenack has allowed just two runs (both earned), 12 hits, and two walks, with 17 strikeouts, in 17.0 IP (1.06 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .200 Opp BA). A 6'5 23-year old right-hander, Whitenack was the Cubs 8th round draft pick out of SUNY - Old Westbury in 2009, and was probably the Cubs #2 starting pitcher prospect when he went down with the elbow injury last June. Hopefully he can eventually get back to where he was before the TJS.
RHP Arturo Maltos-Garcia (rehabbing from July 2011 TJS - was selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft out of Lamar CC) threw a hitless 5th inning, and then James Pugliese followed with three innings of one-hit shutout ball (retiring the first eight men he faced before allowing a single with two outs in the 8th), as the Cubs took a collective two-hitter (and 5-1 lead) into the 9th. (Pugliese now has a 0.95 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 6/16 BB/K in 18.2 IP at EXST).
But closer Roderik Pichardo, who had been "money" in his eight previous EXST appearances--0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .156 Opp BA, allowing no runs and just five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 11.1 IP--had an Outing from Hell in the top of the 9th, allowing six runs on four hits (including a double and two home runs) and three walks in just 1/3 of an inning (the inning was stopped--"ROLL IT!"--with only one out), as the A's took a 7-5 lead (the eventual final score).
After going 0-2 with two walks as a DH yesterday, Micah Gibbs continued his EXST rehab today, catching for five innings before moving to DH. He batted a total of six times in today's game, going 1-5 with a single and a walk. He also scored a run in the Cubs four-run 4th, and was the catcher for Whitenack's sterling four-inning performance.
The Defensive Play of the Game was a back-handed diving catch by SS Javier Baez in LF foul territory near the bullpen, one of the best catches I've ever eeen at Fitch Park. He had to run a mile just to get there, and then somehow was able to locate the ball and catch it.
In EXST Cubs roster news, C-IF-OF Anthony Giansanti has been moved up to Peoria. Giansanti was hitting 222/404/417 in 17 EXST games (47 PA), with one double and three triples. He also had displayed an eagle-eye at the plate (10/5 BB/K).
Giansanti has spent the 2012 season to date at Fitch Park (first at Minor League Camp, then at Extended Spring Training) learning to be a catcher. Signed by the Cubs as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent out of Siena College in 2010, Giansanti was already a versatile fellow (having played 3B-2B-1B-LF-CF-RF in the minors leagues 2010-11), but adding catcher to his resume should only increase his value as a "supersub."
The 23-year old Giansanti is a below-average hitter but with decent power (11 HR at Peoria in 2010) and one of the best outfield arms in the Cubs system (24 OF assists in 2011), and he has shown the arm off from behind the plate as well, nailing 36% of opposing base-stealers in EXST games. He played only catcher and DH in games until just recently, but got a start in RF on Thursday and at 3B on Friday, apparently in preparation for the move up to Peoria.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
X. Micah Gibbs, C-DH: 1-6 (F-8, 1B, F-8, 4-3, BB, 4-3, R)
NOTE: Gibbs batted six times, once in the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th
1a. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 1-2 (HBP, 1B, 6-3, R, RBI, PO)
1b. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-1 (1B)
2a. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (K, 2B, P-4, R, RBI)
2b. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: NO AB
2c. Wilfredo Petit, PH: 0-1 (F-8)
3. Xavier Batista, LF-RF: 0-3 (5-3, 4-3, 5-3, RBI)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B: 0-3 (K, 6-3, 4-U FC, R, RBI)
5a. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (K, P-5, 1B)
5b. Rock Shoulders, 1B: NO AB
6. Dan Vogelbach, 1B-DH: 0-3 (P-3, F-8, 3-6 FC)
7. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 0-3 (F-8, 3-1, F-8)
8a. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 1-2 (K, 1B)
8b. Wilson Contreras, C: 1-1 (1B)
9. Dong-Yub Kim, DH-LF: 1-3 (2B, K, K, R)
1. Rob Whitenack: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, (1 ER), 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 49 pitches (35 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
2. Arturo Maltos-Garcia: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 14 pitches (9 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
3. James Pugliese: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 29 pitches (17 strikes), 5/3 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R (6 ER), 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2 HR, 24 pitches (9 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
NOTE: 9th inning was stopped with one out when Pichardo reached his pre-planned max pitch limit
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's
I love winning! It's, like, better than losing?
You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Its too bad Warren didnt get to pitch. He would have saved us.
Whoa -- that Contreras play in the 8th looked too much like a "Schwarber" -- nearly crashed into the wall going full speed, with Heyward doing the same.
New rule: if you are a catcher playing LF, and find yourself sprinting after a fly ball in the gap -- stop, let the CF go after it and get ready to play it off the wall.
Cubs have no spark and no life. Pretty boring to watch these days.
I thought trips to Miami were supposed to be fun. This one sucked.
The bottom half of the bullpen now turns close games into blowout losses. Not good.
Once Fowler went to the DL, the team went into the tank. Wonder if he'll get any love this offseason? Probably not.
6IP, 2ER. The last one scored because of another botched Zobrist DP turn.
And now, a bad throw by KB. Sloppy.
What is it with Hammel always starting well and sucking after a couple months?
Ahhh...sad. Lke a few of you here, I saw him play during the '69-'71 seasons. He was the "hot Zobrist" for the club in August/September of '69 while everyone else was fizzling out...
I predict: "They will play hard and if they give the same effort every day, they'll win a lot of games."
OK, boys -- find a way to win today.
There's some BA is missing too, here's all signing bonus BA doesn't have some:
-6 Hockin $241,000 (slot price), 7 Cruz $75,000 (saved $110,00), 8 Ridlings $120,000 (saved $53,800), 9 Robinson $30,000 (saved $132,300), so far the Cubs have saved an extra $297,100
Zobrist (2B), Hayward (CF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo, Contreras (LF), Montero, Russell, Coghlan (RF), Hammel
Also -- despite losing 6 of their last 10, the Cubs picked up a game on both STL and PIT during that period. Weird, given that they swept PIT and were swept by STL.
Also, I'd like to know if there are numbers to back up my suspicion that there are a lot more fast starts than late June romps. This seems like a time where everybody not named Willson Contreras is looking a little tired and/or banged up a bit.
For once, the Cubs got off to a fast start. Seems like I've been waiting for that for 50 years.Everybody is really gunning for this team, too. It's their playoffs.