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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.