Brewers Edge Cubs Split Squad in Mesa
Taylor Green singled, doubled, drove-in a run, and scored another, Carlos Gomez crushed a tape-measure home run, and Marco Estrada tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with five relievers to throw a two-hitter, as the Milwaukee Brewers edged a Cubs split squad 4-3 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ
Javier Baez drove-in all three Cubs runs with a two-run HR and a bases-loaded walk.
Edwin Jackson got the start for the Cubs and labored through two innings of work (50 pitches - 27 strikes), allowing two runs on two hits (both singles), two walks, and a HBP, in a 38-pitch 1st inning. E-Jax walked another batter and threw a potential DP ball into CF for an E-1 in a 12-pitch 2nd, but was able to retire the side without any further damage.
NRI RHP Drew Carpenter entered the game an inning earlier than expected and threw three innings in relief (42 pitches - 27 strikes), allowing two runs on the Gomez HR and two doubles in the 3rd inning (his first inning of work) before settling down and retiring the last seven men he faced in a row (with four strikeouts). Carpenter is an extreme long-shot to make the Cubs MLB bullpen and it would be an even longer shot for him to make the Cubs MLB starting rotation, but he is in contention for a starting rotation slot or relief job at AAA Iowa.
Japanese imports LHP Hisanori Takahashi (battling for a bullpen job) and RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (who will likely be the Cubs primary 8th inning set-up man) each worked an easy 1-2-3 inning in relief.
The Cubs did virtually nothing against Brew Crew SP Marco Estrada.
Luis Valbuena walked to lead-off the bottom of the 1st and stole second before eventually being left-stranded at 3rd, and Nate Schierholtz doubled leading off the 2nd but was immediately picked-off by Estrada, who then retired eight of the last ten men he faced.
The Cubs broke through in the bottom of the 5th against Milwaukee RHRP Brandon Kintzler when Brett Jackson drew his second walk of the day and then scored on a Javier Baez two-run HR over the LF fence.
The Cubs scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston walked and Brett Jackson was hit by a pitch, and Javier Baez drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch to force-in the run. But Dan Vogelbach (up from Minor League Camp) struck out swinging to leave three runners stranded.
While the Brewers were defeating the Cubs in Mesa, the other squad of Cubs was playing the Angels in Tempe.
I wasn't at that game, but Brian Bogusevic singled, doubled, and homered, Brad Nelson singled and homered, and SP Nick Struck threw three innings of shutout ball to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 victory.
Barring an injury or a trade, there doesn't appear to be room for Bogusevic on the Cubs 2013 Opening Day 25-man roster, but he's had a great start anyway (615/688/1231). It doesn't happen very often, but every now & then you will see an NRI player (a veteran signed to a minor league contract) get traded before Opening Day, and if Bogusevic keeps hitting, he might be one of them. He could be a nice LH PH and/or platoon corner OF for a team in need of such an animal.
Rule 5 Draft pick (and one-time Indians Top 10 Prospect) Hector Rondon threw another 1-2-3 inning, as he tries to cement a spot in the Cubs bullpen.
As I've mentioned here before, Rondon is not your typical Rule 5 Draft pick. He has been outrighted previously in his career so he can elect to be a free-agent if he is outrighted, and he is out of minor league options, so even if waivers are secured and Cleveland declines to re-claim him, the Cubs cannot option him to the minors, and if they outright him, he can be a free-agent. But for that same reason, the Indians are unlikely to re-claim him if given the chance because they probably wouldn't want to spend $25,000 (half the Rule 5 Draft price) to reacquire Rondon if he can elect free-agency (a Rule 5 pick who is re-claimed by the organization from which he was drafted MUST be outrighted to the minor league affiliate from which he was drafted).
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump