Giant Gaffe and Cub Smoke Combine to Produce Opening Night Victory
Four AZL Cubs pitchers combined to throw a six-hitter with 16 strikeouts, and the Cubs took advantage of a gaffe by the AZL Giants manager to push across two runs in the bottom of the seventh, en route to a 3-1 Arizona League Opening Night victory at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
There is a 35-man roster limit in the AZL, but only 30 of the players (of which at least ten must be pitchers) can be designated as "active" for each game. However, AZL Giants manager Derin McMains apparently failed to list one of his pitchers as "active" before tonight's game, and then he called that pitcher into the game.
RHP Jake Shadle entered the contest in the bottom of the 7th entrusted to protect a 1-0 Giant lead, but after he completed his warm-up pitches, home plate umpire Reid Gibbs called McMains out onto the field and told him that Shadle was not listed on the official Giants game roster submitted by McMains prior to the game, and so Shadle could not pitch in the game. As a result, LHP Randall Zeigler (who had been sitting quietly in the bullpen) was brought into the game "cold" (albeit only figuratively, since it was 109 degrees on the field), but because Shadle did not leave with an injury, Zeigler was permitted only eight warm-up tosses. And it showed
Zeigler labored through his 2/3 of an inning of work, allowing two runs (both unearned) on two hits and a walk, but he really gave up the ship (and was immediately pulled from the game) because he failed to cover 1st base on a two-out bases-loaded grounder down the 1st base line by Trevor Gretzky, where 1st baseman Leonardo Fuentes bobbled the ball and then did not have enough time to beat Gretzky to the bag after he recovered (although Gretzky would have been out if Zeigler had covered the bag and had been available to receive the throw from Fuentes).
The four Cub pitchers who worked in the game were really sharp tonight, although three of them (Zach Cates, Zac Rosscup, and Shane Lindsey) were rehab guys from higher classifications. Rosscup (biceps tendinitis) was especially impressive, striking out four in 1.2 IP (19 pitches - 16 strikes) with 94 MPH gas. I've never seen Rosscup throw that hard before (he usually sits 89-91), but he was unhittable tonight. (Rosscup was one of the "other" players acquired by the Cubs from Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal). Rosscup was at Extended Spring Training, but had only thrown in "sim" games prior to tonight.
6'5 RHP David Henrie (2011 NDFA - Trinidad State JC) made his "official" pro debut tonight and threw three shutout innings (7-8-9) for the victory, although to say it was the big right-hander's pro debut is only technically true, because he saw action in 12 games (21.2 IP) combined between AZ Instructs last fall and Extended Spring Training earlier this season.
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible