Villanueva & Sappelt Go Deep at HoHoKam
Christian Villanueva and Dave Sappelt drilled solo home runs to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies this afternoon in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
Jhoulys Chacin and Edwin Jackson were the starting pitchers, and both threw two innings of shutout ball. Chacin retired all six men he faced, while Jackson (making his Cub debut) allowed back-to-back two-out singles in the top of the 1st inning. Jackson really had his sinker working today (5/1 GO/FO), and after struggling a bit with his control in the 1st (although he did not issue any walks), he got into a groove and fired 12 out of 14 pitches for strikes in the 2nd (30 total pitches over the two innings - 21 strikes).
After the first eight Cubs hitters were retired, Christian Villanueva took Jorge de la Rosa deep with a towering home run over the LF fence and onto to the berm just to the right of the scoreboard. The Cubs added another run off de la Rosa in the 4th as Starlin Castro ripped a lead-off double into the left-center alley, advanced to 3rd on an Anthony Rizzo 4-3 GO, before scoring on a Brett Jackson sacrifice fly (on a two strike pitch against a LHP). Including an intrasquad game last week, B-Jax has struck out only once in four games (8 PA).
The Rockies plated a run off Drew Carpenter in the 4th (Carlos Gonzalez singled, stole 2nd, and scored on a Ben Paulsen RBI single), but the Cubs responded in the 6th when Dave Sappelt slugged a HR over the fence and to the base of the scoreboard in left off Edgmer Escalona to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Chris Rusin followed Carpenter and threw two impressive & efficient shutout innings (30 pitches - 22 strikes), allowing a single in one inning and a double in the other, while inducing five ground outs. Rusin recorded another out when he showed a nifty pick-off move and caught Tyler Colvin leaning the wrong way off 1st base.
Ex-Rockie Zach Putnam threw a 1-2-3 7th (P-4, 1-3, F-9) at his former teammates, but Nick Struck gave up a lead-off triple to ex-Cub D. J. LeMahieu in the 8th, and LeMahieu scored on a sacrifice fly as the Rockies closed to the score to 3-2.
The Cubs added an insurance run in the 8th, as Brad Nelson, Welington Castillo, and Matt Szczur drew consecutive two-out walks off Adam Ottovino following a Dave Sappelt one-out single. Struck then recovered to throw a rocking-chair 1-2-3 9th (P-4, F-9, K-looking) to record the save.
Another sparse crowd at HoHoKam today (just over 4,000). The ticket scalpers working Center Street are on suicide watch.