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.
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.