White Sox Show No Mercy at HoHoKam Park
Paul Konerko drilled two solo home runs, and Adam Dunn slugged a two-run home run off the White Sox team bus parked next to the Budweiser Party Pavillion beyond the RF fence, as the White Sox defeated the Cubs 8-3 this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park, in what is the Cactus League version of the Crosstown Classic.
The Cubs got on the board first against White Sox LHP Jose Quintana, scoring a run in the bottom of the 1st inning. David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz both ripped line-drive extra-base hits over the head of Sox CF Dewayne Wise (DeJesus a lead-off double and Schierholtz a one-out RBI triple), somewhat surprising because both DeJesus and Schierholtz tend to struggle versus LHPs.
The White Sox came back to score single runs in the 3rd & 4th innings off Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva. Gordon Beckham slugged a one-out RBI double that bounced over the fence in right center to drive-in Jared Mitchell (who had reached base on a lead-off bunt single) for the Sox first run, and then Paul Konerko slugged a lead-off solo HR over the LF fence in the 4th.
Villanueva worked four innings (53 pitches - 37 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO, 0/3 BB/K) and generally worked fast and threw strikes, but he also surrendered six hits and had runners on base every inning. He fits the profile of a rubber-armed utility pitcher, someone who doesn't exactly shut-down the opposition, but who can keep his team in the game by throwing multiple innings, either as a starter or as a reliever.
RHP Barret Loux took the hill for the Cubs in the 5th and threw a shutout inning and even collected a line-drive single himself in the bottom of the frame, but then he was pulverized for five runs (all earned) in the top of the 6th inning.
Jeff Keppinger laced a line-drive double to CF to lead-off the 6th, and scored on Adam Dunn's two-run dinger. Paul Konerko then went back-to-back with Dunn, hammering his second long fly of the game over the LF fence. Dayan Viciedo struck out, but then Alexei Ramirez bounced a single to center and Tyler Flowers smoked an RBI double off the CF "Green Monster" Batter's Eye to finish Loux's day. Zach Putnam relieved Loux and allowed a single and a sacrifice fly before recording the third out of the inning.
Loux was named the 2012 Texas League Pitcher of the Year after going 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, 41/100 BB/K and 120 hits allowed in 127 IP for Frisco, and was acquired by the Cubs as the replacement for RHP Jacob Brigham, who had been acquired from Texas in the Geovany Soto trade last July. Brigham was found to have a pre-sxisting elbow problem that eventually required Tommy John Surgery, and so after the season Brigham was returned to the Rangers, and the Cubs got Loux instead. He will likely be in the AAA Iowa starting rotation on Opening Day.
Carlos Marmol entered the game in the top of the 7th, and had control issues. He was all over the place, and allowed an unearned run on one hit and two walks (plus a WP), and was pulled from the game after recording only two outs. If Tiger scouts were watching, they probably weren't impressed.
The Cubs offense finally woke up and scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th off Leyson Septimo (who left the game with some type of injury with two outs and two strikes on what could have been the game's last hitter) and Jhan Marinez, and actually threatened to score more.
Jorge Soler worked a lead-of walk, and Christian Villanueva followed one out later with a two-run HR over the LF fence (his second homer of the Spring). Then with two outs, Brad Nelson walked and Javier Baez crushed a double (near HR) off the left-center fence, but Steve Clevenger bounced out 3-U to end the game.