Navarro Blast Propels Cubs to Victory over Giants

Dioner Navarro hammered a three-run home run to cap a four-run 1st inning, and Jeff Samardzija and six relievers combined to throw a six hitter, as the Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in the Cubs 2013 Cactus League home opener before a sparse crowd (7,784) this afternoon at cool & blustery Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

box score

The Cubs scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the 1st off Giants starter Matt Cain.

Starlin Castro ripped a single with one out, and was safe at second when SF 1B Brad Belt made an errant throw to 2nd base on what should have been the start of a 3-6-3 DP, with Anthony Rizzo reaching 1st base safely on the play. Alfonso Soriano then smoked a line-drive infield single off Matt Cain's left knee to load the bases (Cain remained in the game, although he was clearly limping), and the first run of the day scored on a Nate Schierholtz RBI ground out. Dioner Navarro followed with his three-run HR over the RF fence and into the Giants bullpen to finish the Cubs scoring for the day.

Jeff Samardzija got the start for the Cubs and had his sinker working very well today (4/0 GO/FO). He was sailing right along with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the 2nd when he surrendered a Francisco Peguero double and a Guillermo Quiroz RBI single. For the day, The Shark allowed just the one run on three hits, with two strikeouts and no walks over the 2.0 IP (33 pitches - 21 strikes).  

Carlos Marmol worked the top of the 3rd (22 pitches - 12 strikes) and gave up a run, walking the lead-off hitter and then allowing a one-out RBI rocket double into the RF corner by Pablo Sandoval, before striking out Roger Kieschnick (Brooks' cousin) swinging to end the frame.

Cory Wade was next, and went two innings (26 pitches - 16 strikes), allowing one unearned run on one hit, no walks or strikeouts, and 1/4 GO/FO. The unearned scored as the result of an error by Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo, who dropped a low (but catchable) throw from Starlin Castro that allowed Brandon Crawford to reach base safely to lead-off the inning, and Crawford would eventually score on a sacrifice fly.

Casey Coleman, Kyuji Fujikawa, James Russell, and Shawn Camp threw a combined four innings (one inning a piece) of one hit shutout ball with five punch-outs (and no walks) as the Cubs held on for the victory. Fujikawa was especially sharp, showing some life on his fastball and a great splitter.

Cubs pitchers walked only one Giants batter all day, while strikng out eight.  

The Cubs offense did not score after putting up the four spot in the 1st, but DH Brian Bogusevic (opposite-field line-drive double down the LF line) and Johermyn Chavez (line-drive double off the LF fence--or Cole Gillespie's face) collected extra base hits. Chavez's double was absolutely crushed, and probably never got higher than eight feet off the ground before reaching the fence.  

The weather was not ideal (cold northwest wind), but stiill the sparse crowd was a bit of surprise, given that it was both the Cubs Cactus League home opener and a Sunday.  



AZ Phil- What's your thoughts on the improved BJax? Real or mirage?

JACOS: Way too early to tell, but so far so good.

"Cubs manager Dale Sveum said earlier that Jackson was ticketed for Triple-A Iowa to start the year. After reworking his swing in the offseason Jackson got off to a hot start in spring training drills and intra-squad games. Then in his Cactus League debut on Saturday he hit two triples. If that continues will it change Sveum’s mind?

“I don’t think it changes anything,” Sveum said."

“I don’t think it changes anything,” Sveum said."
It's pretty clear that the best case scenario for BJax is to have a Rizzo-type rebound in AAA for 6-10 weeks and he'll get promoted. Particularly if a drop in the K rate becomes noticeable.

If Brett Jackson is optioned to Iowa out of Spring Training and then is not recalled before June 11th, he cannot be a free-agent until post-2019 (at the earliest). But if B-Jax is optioned to Iowa out of Spring Training and is recalled before June 11th, he could be a free-agent post-2018 (UNLESS he is optioned to the minors in some future season).

This is similar to what happened with Anthony Rizzo last year, where the Cubs optioned him to Iowa out of Spring Training and then waited to recall him until just after the point in the season where he would not go over one year of MLB Service Time through the 2012 season (he ended up at 0+168 MLB Service Time through the 2012 season, ensuring that he cannot be a free-agent until post-2018).

The Cubs screwed-up with both Travis Wood and Welington Castillo, however,

If the Cubs had waited five more days to recall T. Wood in May, or if they had optioned him to Iowa for ten days over the All-Star Break (when a 5th starter wasn't needed for ten days, and so that T. Wood could have stayed sharp by getting a start for Iowa at Omaha on the Thursday after the MLB All-Star Game instead of remaining on the Cubs 25-man roster and not pitching for ten days), he would have fallen just short of two years of MLB Service Time through the 2012 season (he ended up with 2+004 MLB ST), meaning he would not have been eliigible to be a free-agrent until post-2017, instead of post-2016 as is now the case.

Likewise, because Welington Castillo was recalled when he was (7/31, after Geovany Soto was traded), he ended up with nine days over one year of MLB Service Time (1+009) through the 2012 season, making him eligible to be a free-agent after the 2017 season, instead of post-2018 if he had (for example) been left at Iowa until after the conclusion of the PCL season on Labor day. (The Cubs could have brought up a veteran 4-A catcher like Juan Apodaca to platoon with Steve Clevenger and get them through the month of August, until Castillo was recalled in September).

Both T. Wood and W. Castillo are now out of minor league options, so it won't be possible to get their service times any lower without outrighting them to the minors (which isn't likely to happen unless the player turns out be a stiff, and then it wouldn't matter anyway).

A club has to be careful with guys who are down to their last option year (as Travis Wood and Welington Castillo were last year, and as Rafael Dolis and Alberto Cabrera are this year), because you aren't going to get another chance to manage the player's MLB Service Time (which determines when a player can become a free-agent). So the Cubs need to try and make sure that Dolis does not accrue more than 50 days of MLB Service Time in 2012, and make sure that Cabrera does not accrue more than 107 days (both will be out of options in 2014). 

BTW, falling just short of a full season of Service Time (as happened with Rizzo last season) will NOT affect when the player will become eligible for salary arbitration, because if he falls short of three years of MLB Service Time by even as much as 30-40 days, the player would still be eligible for arbitration as a "Super Two." It only affects when a player can be a free-agent.

Heyman banging the drum for a Soriano deal to Yankees...

"But it's something else, really. Has to be, because this is one terrific player and person.

"It's the contract," one GM said, flat out.

OK, so he's overpaid. But it isn't his fault he was given a $136-million, eight-year deal. He simply signed. Who wouldn't have?"


Whether or not it is Soriano's fault that he's paid a gazillion dollars is not the issue.

Also, what kind of writing style is this? It has a "I'm having a beer with my buddies and speaking poorly" feel to it. Blech.


“I really don’t look too far down the line, but the way things stack up [Castro] will probably be my two-hitter this year,” Sveum said before the Cubs’ first home Cactus League game on Sunday.

sweet. sure he didn't do well there last year, but whatever...the way he swings i doubt it was lineup slot that was making the difference.

d.barney hitting 7th/8th works a hell of a lot better for me.

AZ PHIL: Pitching?

Hey PHIL - have you seen Kyle Hendricks or Michael Jenkins much?

If so, how do they project in your opinion?

E-MAN: I have never seen Kyle Hendricks pitch, but supposedly he has pinpoint control and the stamina needed to be a starter.

I presume you mean Michael Jensen, and if so, I have seen him pitch, though not since Minor League Camp last year. He has an above-average fastball (he was topping out at 94) and a plus-slider, and last time I saw him his change-up was still a work in progress. He reminds me a bit of Nick Struck at a similar stage. I think he has the upside to make it to MLB, though I can't say if it will be as a starter or reliever. A lot depends on the change-up. I remember writing that I thought he projects as a reliever, but he certainly had a fine year as a starter at Peoria last season.  

PHIL: Indeed I meant Michael Jensen. Thank you for the insight.

via rotowurld, via paul sulivan's twitter...

"Cubs manager Dale Sveum expects Matt Garza (lat strain) to be ready for Opening Day if he's able to resume throwing in the next few days."

nate sureholds 2r HR off billingsly...

dodgers tie in bottom 1st off a shaky-control c.villanueva...only throws .2ip (threw a bunch of pitches, probably not injury). he only gave up a 2r single, but he walked 2.

d.mcdonald 3r HR off capuano, top 3...blasted. w.castillo goes back-to-back...cubs up 6-2.

Things that make me say, hmmmmm.
the quick hook (regarding Villaneuva)

he threw a lot of pitches...probably not injury related.

Whitenack: Not ready for 1:20 p.m.

Am I on drugs, or did Vin Scully just say Soriano got traded to the Nats?

Vin Scully just announced the Cubs are "going a different direction, that's why they traded Soriano (alfonzo) to the Nationals." I swear he said it...

Yeah, I heard that, too. Apparently he knows something nobody else does. Or, his age is finally getting to him.

He was probably thinking of Rafael Soriano?

Maybe, but that wasn't a trade, just a signing, right?

Yes, he was clearly confused.

Or is it possible he was talking about when Texas traded Sori to Washington? I couldn't say, I wasn't listening.

Vin's older than dirt and doesn't cover the Cubs on the reg. What's George Offman's excuse?

...and d.willis has an arm injury...probably not a good one given his reaction and quick hook.

"Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat

D-Train has tightness in shoulder"

"Dontrelle Willis says injury is "frustrating." Has fatigue in shoulder. Felt something after 2nd pitch. He'll be evaluated"

God Bless, DVR.

Cubs Dodgers game replayed at 3:00 am CST on MLB network.

AWESOME! I get up for work at 5:30. I will just set the clock a couple hours earlier to watch Carlos "Lightening" Villanueva!

almost every MLB Network spring cubs game (all except for 1, really) is a mega-late-night or early morning replay. boo-hiss-etc.

game is being replayed now, fwiw.

Happy 21st birthday (I hope) to Jorge Soler!

happy 73rd to ron santo from the land of the living.

That was beautiful. A bit of Ring Lardner, a bit of Hunter Thompson. (Wouldn't you love to have Ralph Steadman do the illustrations for that story?) Of course, it also documents the unraveling of the prospect-driven 1989 Cubs--which of course we cynical long-time fans remember even as we plan for the 2017 World Champions, driven by Soler, Baez, Vogelbach, and Almora...

Should have done what the Cubs did?

i still think "wade davis becoming a starter under a long/cheap contract" is the elephant in the room that no one seems to want to acknowledge.

i wonder if some people writing about this trade even saw him throw a cutter last year...or how sharp his curve has tightened up...

his newly established cutter is "woah"'s not just good, it's really good.

but this is funny...

If the two teams were building houses, the Cubs had a little lumber and some permits, whereas the Royals had an avocado, an ice pick, and a snorkel.

true that.

the royals are going "all in" on 2 pitchers...and i still can't believe they had to throw in odorz...

they're heavily counting on their young bats to start hitting...and they gave up a promising young bat in the process of making that bet plus backing it up with pitching.

Recent comments

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  • BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).

  • TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.

    TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.

  • Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.

  • Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.

    Think Baby Maddux.

    Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.

    Kyle is on the far left.

  • I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.

  • Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.

  • That was good!

  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.