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.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.